It Won’t Be 100%

Rarely are two separate documents 100% consistent. While it does happen, the more likely situation is that documents are fairly consistent, with minor differences.

It is up to the thorough researcher to determine if the inconsistencies are inconsequential and to find reasonable, plausible explanations for them.

Usually violations of the laws of biology and physics are not necessary to explain things

Google them all

Never hurts and never hurts to do it every so often.

I “googled” the name (including maiden name) of a first cousin of my great-grandfather. The first cousin had to have died at least forty years ago. However, the searched turned up an obituary for a daughter who died in 2007!

Why One Dollar?

Why would an ancestor give a child $1 (or another token amount) in a will? Basically to show that they had not been left out.

The child could have had a falling out with their parent, or perhaps the parent had already given them their inheritance, perhaps when they got married, started some type of business, bought their first farm ground, etc.

Go Back and Ask Again

So you interviewed your relative twenty years ago when you first started genealogy. Have you thought about interviewing them again?

Maybe they remember something now they didn’t remember before or are willing to discuss something they didn’t want to discuss twenty years ago.

It is worth a shot.

Leave a calling card at the cemetery

It is an oft-repeated suggestion, but we’ve not used it before here.

When visiting that cemetery, consider putting a waterproof calling card on the stone or near to it. A business card in a plastic bag, or a laminated one will work just fine. Use a stone, rock, or some other object to secure it in place, without harming the stone.

You never know when another relative, who doesn’t use the internet at all, might stop by that same cemetery and find your card with contact information.

One Census Can Easily Be Wrong

It can be difficult when you only have one census enumeration to tell you anything about an ancestor.

I was working on a Benjamin Butler who was enumerated in Iowa in 1870. The problem was that his place of birth in 1870 (Canada) was shown as New York in the 1880 census where I eventually found him. And his 1880 enumeration had him listed as William.

Fortunately the wife and all the other details matched. When using just one enumeration to search for others, considering that any one piece of information could easily be incorrect.

My search for Benjamin will be mentioned in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues. Subscribe now and get in on the fun.

Write down your thought process

Do not always assume you will remember why you reached a certain conclusion. In analyzing an 1870 census entry for an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues, I made some preliminary conclusions about the oldest female in the household. In reviewing the material later, it took me another ten minutes to “re-reach” those conclusions. It would have been easier if I had taken the time to write down my thought the first time.