Your ancestors did not have to “prove” anything when the census taker came to the door. They could get by just answering the questions and if the answers were totally wrong or just a “little off,” the census taker might not even know. This does not mean that every census enumeration is wrong or that everyone lied on the census. But it does mean that an age that is slightly off or a birth place that isn’t quite right is not usually enough to throw an entire theory out the window. But then again, there’s always that chance that great-great-grandma fudged the number of years married to make a few things fit–for those census records that asked that question. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the […]
When was the last time you reviewed material or information you obtained in the early days of your research? Did you neglect to indicate where something was originally located? Did you simply copy something from a website or book without considering that it could be wrong? Most of us did those things early in our research–but are there still items of that type lurking in your files or database causing those “brick walls” we all complain about? Now that you’re a little more seasoned, review what you did in the early days and see if you still agree with yourself. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Was your ancestor institutionalized for a short time or for the last few years of their life? If so, they might have died a distance from where they actually lived. Records of the actual institution may be closed, but there might be local court records of the institutionalization. People who were sent to institutions weren’t always “crazy,” but might have simply needed more care than the family could give. And they might have been buried on the grounds of the institution–leaving no tombstone behind either. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Genealogists usually never look for original deed records–instead we utilize record copies at the local county courthouse. If you can’t find marriage and other records of your ancestor, is it possible that “copies” of these records had to be filed elsewhere? Official copies of marriage records often appear widow’s pension applications. Official copies of naturalizations appear in homestead records. Ask yourself, “would my ancestor have had to prove” a marriage, naturalization, etc.? If so, where might those records be? ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
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Are there any relatives you have not talked to since you’ve made “discoveries?” Sometimes new information gives you ideas for new questions to ask family members you have already interviewed. And sometimes a new last or first name helps jog someone’s memory and gets them remembering things that they could not recall before. And sometimes it irritates them and they “clam up.” But then again, that’s always a clue too! ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Might does not make right. The obituary appears in three newspapers. Just because his mother’s name is the same in all three doesn’t mean it’s “right” because it appears the same in more than one place. But you still need to look in multiple newspapers for obituaries (and other items) because what one paper published may be different from what another one published. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
they promise to solve a problem–no matter what they guarantee an answer within a set number of hours they refuse to give any physical address or references You can still have problems, but these things are red flags for me. Professional researchers promise to diligently search specific records and interpret their findings. They don’t guarantee to find anything.  ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Do not always assume that someone died near where they are buried. It is very possible that they died while travelling or living a distance away with a relative and were returned “home” for burial. That death certificate or death record may be several states away. I recently located a man who lived the last few years of his life in California, but had spent the previous thirty years in Nebraska. Nebraska is where he was buried, but California is where he died and where his death certificate was filed. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
The more money a person had, the more records they tend to leave. An ancestor of mine appeared in several lawsuits, land records, and other dealings in Kentucky and Virginia between roughly 1790 and 1825. Then nothing. Nothing at all. A closer reading of one of the later court cases in which he was involved indicated that he was “nearly insolvent.” That might explain why there was no probate for him upon his death. Sometimes a close reading of what documents you are able to obtain explains why more aren’t available. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Your family might have emigrated to the United States over a series of generations. My ancestor’s brother Tonjes Jurgens Ehmen immgirated to the US in the 1860s, leaving behind one brother who stayed in Germany, married and raised a family. That brother had 11 children of his own, all born in Germany. All but two of those children immigrated to the United States between roughly 1870 and 1890. One of the children who stayed in Germany and had several children of his own–including one who came to the United States in 1910. For three generations, some members of the Ehmen family immigrated to America while others stayed behind in Germany. The immigrants originally settled where they had relatives, later moving on to other areas of the United States. […]
Do not assume that an ancestor who has a surname as a middle name got it because that was his (or her) mother’s maiden name. Henry Johnson Smith might have gotten his middle name from a non-relative whose name was Johnson. And George Washington Jones’ mother probably was not a Washington. Surnames as middle names may be clues as to connections or they may be something else altogether. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
When identifying people on pictures, writing about them in your research notes, or asking someone about them, try and avoid only using a relationship to describe the person. Writing “John’s Grandma” on the back of a picture is helpful, but still pretty vague. Who was John and which Grandma is it? When asking your own Grandma questions, asking her to tell you something about “Grandma” may result in her not talking about who you think she is talking about. Ask her about a specific person–referring to them by name. When I asked my Grandma questions, I was less confused if I said something like “tell me about your Grandpa–John Trautvetter” instead of asking about “Grandpa Trautvetter.” When I asked about “Grandpa Trautvetter” it took me awhile to realize […]
Even if you are certain about a transcription or an interpretation of something, it never hurts to let it “sit” and check it over again one more time. Especially when it’s had a chance to “sit” and is cold. This is a great way to catch omissions and mistakes. And reviewing “old material” is a great way to use time when you can’t think of anything else to do, but want to do something. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Deeds to seemingly small pieces of property may hold more genealogical clues than one realizes. A deed for a comparatively minuscule portion of the property may have been drawn up to clear up a property line or  a title. Deeds for fraction portions of property may also have been drawn up to settle an estate. If great-grandpa owned several hundred acres, don’t ignore those deeds for a couple of acres. They may contain more clues than you think. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
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