Do You Know More Now?

I first read and transcribed the 1812 will of James Rampley in Harford County, Maryland, when I was sixteen years old. I don’t think I have looked at the entire will in over twenty-five years. Today I read the entire document.

And there were at least five good clues that I missed in that early reading of the document because there were many things I didn’t know about research, the law, inheritance, and the family at that point in time.

Do you have something that you’ve not read in ages?

Could there be unused clues in that document?

Bequeath to the Children of My Daughter

The 1812 will of James Rampley in Harford County, Maryland, gives real estate to “surviving children of my daughter, Nancy Beaty.” A superficial read of the will may lead one to conclude that Nancy is dead. She’s not. Her husband is not dead either. There’s a little more to it than that.

James Rampley also indicated in his will that his son James Rampley was to have the use and occupation of the said land during the natural life of Nancy Beaty for her maintenance and that of her children. “My son in law John Beaty to have no claim right or title to the said land or the profits thereof.”

After her death, title was to be passed to her children.

Never jump to conclusions and always read the entire document.

There’s probably something going on there not mentioned in the will.

Cancelled Marriage Licenses

Always make certain you look at the entire marriage record. Sometimes a couple does not go through with the marriage–as this 1901 example from Oklahoma shows.

My Weekly Blog Update

weeklyblogupdate-20febMy blog update is sent every week and summarizes content posted to all my blogs since the last update was sent.

This includes article links from the following blogs:

  • Rootdig
  • Genealogy Search Tip
  • Genealogy Tip of the Day
  • Genealogy Transcriber

Additional content:

  • citation of the week
  • tombstone of the week
  • letter of the week
  • photograph of the week

Some use the weekly update in place of the daily updates that go out. There’s a nominal $5 fee per year to pay for the email service that is used to send the update out. Email addresses are not sold or shared. You can view the most recent issue where there is also a subscription link at the bottom of the page.2weeklyblogupdate-20feb


Married by a Minister Does Not Guarantee In the Church

If a marriage record indicates that your relatives were married by a minister, it means they were married by that minister. They may or may not have been married in the church. While it may seem like a minor detail, unless the marriage record specifically states the location, the researcher can be certain of the precise place where the marriage took place. The license or record may only explicitly state the county or town. Don’t assume more than it says.

And that is true for any record.near-church


Check out the books on Michael’s genealogy shelf–only listing books I have actually purchased myself and actually use.

Date of Marriage License Is Not the Date of Marriage

The date that a couple obtained a marriage license is not necessarily the date of the marriage. Getting a license does not mean the couple was actually married. Things can happen after the license and before the ceremony. If the license was returned with the name of officiant and date of the ceremony, then the couple got married.

If you only have the marriage license date, record it as the marriage license date.

Are You Listening to that Preacher?


The name of the officiant at your ancestor’s wedding could be a clue to further records. The minister on this 1882 marriage from Ft. Madison, Iowa, should be researched so that the congregational records from his church can be locate for potential information. Googling him would be a good start.


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Are You Looking at Every Official Copy?

It never hurts to look at every official copy of a record. This doesn’t mean every photocopy or digital image ever made of the document.  One should look at official copies that may have been made of the record for other levels of government–particularly if the copy you’ve located is incomplete. The state copy of a marriage record from 1882 in Iowa provided the name of the father of this bride when, at the age of 47, she married for the third time. It’s the only record for her in the United States that gives her parents’ names. There’s a discussion of the discovery on my blog.lookeverywhere


Genealogy Tip of the Day is  proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank. In February, they are offering an annual subscription for a monthly rate equivalent to less than $5 a month!

Before You Estimate that Date

factlandBefore I put an estimated date in my genealogical database, I ask myself:

how sure am I of this estimate?

Am I using the birth of the first child to estimate the year of birth of the parents? If so, then:

  • How do I know which child was their first child
  • Did they have children with other people before this relationship?
  • Is is possible that there is a significant difference in the age of father and mother?

I always ask myself a second time:

how sure am I of this approximate date?

Estimating dates should be done with care and with a solid reason (it “feels” right applies to clothes, not to genealogical conclusions). That reason should be in your notes for the event, clearly stated along with your source.

Estimate with care because sometimes what began as an estimate crosses into the land of Almighty Fact.

And sometimes when an estimate or assumption crosses into the land of Almighty Fact, there is no going back.