That packet of pension, estate, or other documents may be repetitive. Some series of records are, with essentially the same or similar material being restated several times. And yet sometimes, buried in one of those repetitive pages will be a word, phrase, or even a sentence or two that reveals significant information. Take the time to read everything. Buried in five pages of “stuff you already know,” may be a thing or two you don’t. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
If there is a court case that “can’t be found” or a record that is “closed,” remember that there might be some account of it in a local newspaper. I’ve got one 1870 era case where the packet of court papers is “gone.” One option for me is to search the newspapers of when the case was heard and when judgement/sentence was issued in hopes that the newspaper mentioned something. Always keep in mind that there might be a newspaper account of an event as well. And while court records can sometimes be sealed, newspapers are a little more difficult to control in that fashion. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
To celebrate the end of summer school for me, we’re offering a discounted rate on year 1 issues of my newsletter Casefile Clues. Year 1 of Casefile Clues for $10! (only valid as long as this blog post still loads–if you can see it, the offer is still good). Grow your genealogy, see how problems are solved, sources analyzed, and information organized. We focus on showing the method, not just the one way that worked to solve the problem. Our concentration is on clear writing that explains process. Topics from Year 1 can be viewed here–click back to view this offer page. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
For those ancestors who died in the last fifty years or so, consider these locations when looking for an obituary: place of death place of birth place of marriage any places of “significant residence” Obituaries or death notices may appear in newspapers in any of those areas. This is not true for most 19th century deaths, but you never know. Sometimes it happens then as well.  ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
A relative of mine gives testimony in a pension case. Most everything she has to say is confirmed from other records and actually her memory for being nearly 70 years old in 1918 and having moved dozens of times is really good. One problem. She forgot her remarriage to her husband–despite the fact that she remembered her five other marriages. Reading through all the information made it clear she had NOT forgot about her marriage. There was no apparent divorce from this husband and mentioning the marriage would have created more problems for her application. There’s always the chance that your ancestor had a reason for being less than entirely candid. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
I’ve been working on an early Tennessee family lately and using marriage records as a part of my research. There are many ways I can access those marriages, but I need to think about what source I am using. Am I using: Original paper copies Microfilm of the original paper copies Digitized images made from the microfilm Published transcriptions Handwritten copies made from the originals One of the many questions is, if I am using those published transcriptions–were they made from the original paper copies, the microfilm, or the handwritten copies made from the originals. Transcriptions can always have the occasional error, being made by humans. Transcriptions made from transcriptions have an even higher liklihood of an error. And there is always a chance something is transcribed incorrectly […]
Is writing that 6 generation genealogy too much of a task? Think you’ll never get that much completed in your lifetime? Consider starting small: write the biography of one ancestor. Document as much of her (or his) life as you can, citing your sources as you go. This smaller task is one that you are more likely to complete. When you’ve finished, consider submitting it to the local genealogical or historical society where the ancestor lived for inclusion in their files or possible publication in their newsletter. Then at the very least, you’ve preserved some of your information. And maybe you’ve got yourself started to the point where you are confident to continue writing. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Consider ways to preserve your genealogy information before you die. Don’t include it in your will and think that you’re “done.” Libraries don’t always have time to organize unorganized material and some don’t have the funds to preserve it, catalog it, or store it. And your will may tell your executor what to do, but are a few boxes of papers going to be high on their priority list? Will the probate judge care what’s done that box of papers? Will the estate’s heirs and beneficiaries really care? Remember that unless you’re a well-known author, your manuscripts aren’t financially valuable documents. Consider publishing bits and pieces of what you’ve located now, even if it is not finished. Local or state society publications may be interested. Self-publishing may be an option. […]
If you’ve contemplated hiring a professional, do the following first: 1) transcribe relevant documents; 2) list what you have searched and what you have not; 3) compile the information you already have; 4) summarize your problem so someone unfamiliar with the person/family can make sense of it.  This will save time if you do need to hire a professional because the information you send to them will be more organized. You might even realize when organizing your information that you do not need a professional–at least not yet. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
When recording information about long-deceased relatives, don’t forget to record information about your own life as well. Write those stories your remember, not just about parents and grandparents, but yourself as well. Someone may want to read those stories someday. Think about other ways to preserve your stories besides a blog. Your goal is for the stories to be around in 50 years, not just 50 days. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Creating a chronology of an ancestor’s life can serve many purposes. One is to see time periods when there is no information on the ancestor? Do you have a five year gap in records on an ancestor? Some gaps cause more concern than others–eight years between the 1860 census enumeration and a 1868 death is not probably a huge concern. Selling property in location A in 1851 and then first appearing in another location in 1859 should make you wonder where he was between 1851 and 1859. Unexplained gaps of time when one event indicates an ancestor might have been thinking about moving or might have just moved should get the research wheels turning in your head. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
With some probate and estate records, researchers may locate the actual will in the packet of papers. Signed by the testator, the actual will is always an interesting find. Sometimes researchers neglect to locate the “record copy” when they have the original. In many locations, a (usually handwritten) copy of the will is made in a ledger or journal. Determine if the locality of interest has a record copy, even if you have the “original.” The record copy is especially important if the original has words or phrases that are difficult to read. The clerk might have been familiar with the names and knew “what was meant.” And the record copy may also have a comment not on the original record. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip […]
Was there a nearby county or state where the requirements were easier than the location where your ancestor was living? It is possible that your ancestor crossed the county or state line in order to get married. Eloping a few counties away meant that the groom and bride were less likely to be recognized and that the marriage license might not be published in a local paper. Both of these considerations would lengthen the time before family and friends found out about the wedding. Getting married a distance from their residence might also make it easier to lie about their age.  ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Technically in a will a “devise” refers to real property and to “bequeath” means to give personal property to someone. For the genealogist the difference is usually not consequential, but it never hurts to be aware of the distinctions sometimes made in legal terms. Thomas would “devise” his farm to his son Thomas and bequeath the household goods and farm equipment to his son Benjamin. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
There is a reason why doctors suggest a person get a second opinion. Genealogists should consider this as well. If I join a new message board for an area or topic with which I am unfamiliar, I generally wait to post a question until I have an idea of who knows their stuff and who does not.It still can be difficult to know, but often a person gets an idea of who is knowledgeable and who is not. I’m generally not inclined to take advice from mailing list or message board posters who post anonymously and I also usually wait to “act on suggestions” until I’ve gotten more than one response. Of course, if there is someone on the list or board that I already know to be […]
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