Can’t Find That Estate Fight?

If there was a court case after a relative died, make certain you have looked up every name of every heir in the court indexes. The estate being settled might be the estate of John Smith, but it could easily be that son-in-law Gideon Johnson is the lead plaintiff in the court case and grandson  Barton Hanson is the lead defendant. Because of this Smith’s estate fight will probably be in the plaintiffs’ index under Gideon Johnson and in the defendants’ index under Barton Hanson.

Don’t Assume That It Is Wrong

Do not assume something that looks incorrect is. It may be right. The image that is a part of this post comes from a marriage record in Union County, Iowa, that indicates the bride Emma Pollard was getting married for the fifth time. The temptation might be that somehow this is incorrect–it does seem high.

Turns out it was correct and this marriage from 1883 was her fifth. Don’t assume what looks wrong is. Sometimes it is correct.

Don’t Write Off Those Short-Lived Marriages

Did your ancestor have a spouse to whom they were married for only a short time (perhaps because the spouse died young) and had no children? Have you completely researched the family of this spouse? Often the temptation is to perform little research on this “short-term” spouses, particularly when there was no issue of the marriage.

There could still be clues in the choice of this marriage partner. They could have known each other overseas, “back East,” or had mutual acquaintances–all of which could be clues to tracing your actual ancestor. Just because no one descends from the “short-lived” spouse does not mean they should not be researched just as thoroughly as the spouse from which you descend.

Deeds in Metes and Bounds Can Give Neighbors

Deeds in states that used metes and bounds description of property (generally the US colonies and those states that bordered them) often include the names of neighbors in the property lines. These descriptions describe the property lines using angles and measurements and frequently indicate whose property shares that line. While researchers may not necessarily want to plat out the properties, those names of neighbors can be helpful.

Was There Reliance on Memory?

While preparing for an upcoming conference, I fired off a response to an email–answering the question the way it “usually” was answered for most conferences. The problem was that this conference was difference and my mistake was in reliance upon my memory.

Is there a piece of information an ancestor provided on a document that might have been solely from his memory, given “off the cuff?” And perhaps his or her error was a very honest one, not given to deceive or confuse, but merely done so quickly “off the top of his head.”

And 100 years later, his descendant analyzes it do death when it was originally a very simple error.

Fold3 Search Techniques Webinar

We’ve added one new webinar to our March 2012 series–and we’re really excited about it.

Our new session is “Searching on” This website (fee-based) offers a variety of military records from the United States. Fold3 has a large amount of material from the Revolutionary War and also includes digital images of National Archives microfilmed material from later United States conflicts as well. You can check out the information on Fold3 by browsing their website.

Our Fold3 webinar is on 6 March 2012 at 1:30 PM central time. Visit our webinar registration page for more details and registration links.

Is Mom Really Grandma?

Always consider the possibility that that child born when a female ancestor was 55 years of age might not have been the ancestor’s child. While some women did have children “late in life,” it may be that the last child was actually the first grandchild–the child of one of the “mother’s” older children.