We have scheduled another series of webinars on the probate materials at Ancestry.com and have rescheduled the “Preserving Past You” webinar for 3 October. More details can be seen on our blog post.
In this census enumeration John DeMoss is listed as “John Daymoss.” Chances are this spelling variant is making a comment about how the name was said. Are you looking for pronunciation clues in spelling “errors?”
Even if you use an online tree for a “clue” and never intend on publishing that fact unless you can find separate documentation, you should still cite that clue–at least so that you personally know from where the clue was obtained. It’s hard to know how much time should be devoted to following up on a clue if one does not know from where the clue was obtained. Clues from thin air are difficult to use.
Your genealogical goals should be to discover as much as you can about your ancestor using all records at your disposal (not just those that agree with you) and trying to represent those records and what they say as accurately as possible. And sometimes that might not be what we actually want to find out.  
Never assume that those “boarders” in a census entry are merely strangers taken in for extra income. Those boarders could be relatives as well. Sometimes the census focuses on the “financial” relationship and not the biological one. Always do a little snooping on those boarders living with your ancestor.
Your ancestor may have not known exactly when he was born. I recently read through a Civil War pension application where the veteran was not certain of his year of birth. He made that same statement repeatedly throughout his pension paperwork. He knew that he was born in the very late 1830s, but that was ever as specific as he could get. It is possible that your relative really did not know his precise date of birth, especially if he was born on the frontier and family effects were somehow lost or destroyed at some point in time.
Genealogists spend a great deal of time documenting the long-since deceased that we sometimes forget those who are living. Are you collecting “modern” information that will help to provide future generations with a picture of those who lived in the past. This brief conversation was from September of 2013 and ended with a comment that is so typical of my mother that I could almost hear her say it when I read it. Make certain you aren’t just documenting the “ancient past.” The recent past can be just as interesting even if your conversations are not animals that cannot behave.
Ancestry.com recently released an update of their US yearbook collection. To have a smaller image that I could more easily use, I cropped the portion of the page that included my mother–removing the other pictures and “sliding” Mom’s picture closer to the names. No wording was changed and nothing about Mom’s picture was changed.  My “source citation” for the image includes the fact that the image has been cropped from the original. Do you indicate that you have made alterations to an image? 
Don’t assume that dead people can’t be listed in city directories. Widowed women are often listed in directories along with their deceased husband’s name. And don’t forget that widows were not always widows either–sometimes they were actually divorced. That’s not the case with Julia VanHoorebeke–she was an actual widow. 
While it’s always advised to research extended family, the reality is that there simply is only so much time one can devote to certain problems. That said, why would one look at the US passport of an ancestral sister-in-law in the 1920s? Because during that time period some women still derived their citizenship through their husband and knowing something about the passports issued during that time as well, I know that there’s a good chance the ancestral sister-in-law’s passport mentioned her husband. And he’s the brother of the ancestor. And that may help me on my actual problem. Sometimes records on the in-laws are more likely to be of immediate assistance than others. And while an exhaustive search is always good…we all have limitations.
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I had a relative who was married several times in the middle part of the 20th century. The way I tracked her was through city directories. Her last name changed, but she lived in the same home despite having several husbands. If your ancestor is changing some things about themselves, think about what remains the same. That may be how you’ll find them.
I have a relative who was married three times, having survived all three husbands. She was married to her third husband some twenty years before she died and she survived him by several years. For reasons unknown to me when she died in 2012 she is listed in the statewide death index under her second husband’s name. She was married to him for five years and they had no children. She continued to use her third husband’s last name after his death. Took me forever to find her.
Many US states took their own census in non-federal census years. If you’ve not determined when state censuses exist for your research areas, it might be worth your while.
The reason you can’t find your ancestor in the census index may be because the original is difficult to read or the “entry of interest” is hiding in a faded corner. A manual search may be helpful, but only if your interpretation and reading skills are better that those of the person making the image.
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