While reading Staking Her Claim: Women Homesteading the West, by Marcia Meredith Hensley, I came across a reference to a woman referring to a single neighbor man as a “grass widow” in a letter written by Julia Erickson in Winnett, Montana, in 1911 (page 111). Doing a little research, I discovered that men could be referred to as “grass widowers” just in the same way as women could be referred to as “grass widows.” The reason was the same: the spouse was “gone.” Of course, gone can mean quite a few things from temporarily away, to separated, to divorced. But use of the adjective “grass” was not limited to women. It could apply to men as well.    
No matter how hard you try, sometimes it is difficult to get good picture of a tombstone. Do not rely only on your photograph if the stone appears difficult to read at the cemetery. Make a transcription there at the cemetery while you are on site. Draw a sketch of the stone if necessary and write the transcription on your sketch of the stone. Take a picture of that hand made drawing and transcription to have with your actual stone photograph. You may be happy you did when you get home. Or you may find out how many swear words one picture causes you to make when you can’t see the transcription in the photograph.
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Be careful drawing conclusions from an ancestor “making their mark.” It means that they made their mark. Sometimes the person signing a document: was told to make his mark even if he could write chose to make his mark even though he could write was physically unable to sign his name and making his mark was all he could do even though in years past he could write his name made a mark because that was all he knew how to do even though he was in fine health Be wary of drawing conclusions on your ancestor literacy based upon the presence or absence of one signature.
If a record gives a person’s age, remember: The age could easily be off by one year or more. if accurate, don’t just subtract the age given in the record from the year of the record. Someone aged 35 in 1870 could have been born in 1835. Or, if they turned 36 the next day and the year was still 1870, they were actually born in 1834. Concluding the age is accurate is always something to be done with good reason. I always use a year of birth calculated from an age in a record as an approximation of that year.
The first clue I had that one of my ancestors might have been married more than once was when two of her heirs were not listed as heirs of her husband. The husband died a year later and if they shared all the same children, their heirs should have been the same. The two heirs of hers that were not his were still living when he died. It turned out those two were her children by a previous husband.
There is still room in our February US land class and US probate records class. Join us!
Spellings of last names can vary significantly, even within one document. Avoid getting hung up on minor differences or spelling variations. The important thing to keep in mind is do the spellings sound the same. Even if your ancestor was literate, he might not have been too concerned about whether or not his name was spelled right. Always be open to spelling variations-like the 1860 census taker apparently was. He spelled Behrens as Barams, Burse, and Barrus (?) on the same census page.
Just a reminder: the death benefit field in the renditions of what’s commonly called the Social Security Death Index, is where the death benefit check was sent, not where the person was necessarily living when they died. My Aunt Luella Barnett died in Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, but the death benefit was sent to Orland Park, Cook County, Illinois, where her oldest daughter was living at the time.  The image in this post comes from Ancestry.com. The Social Security Death Index can be searched at FamilySearch or GenealogyBank  as well. 
[This was posted to my other blogs several years ago, but thought it appropriate to post it here again since we’ve moved to the new domain.] All content on Rootdig.com, Genealogy Tip of the Day and my other blogs is self-written. It is not copied and pasted from the work of others and originates from my own keyboard. Like many writers, I do get writing ideas from other blogs and bloggers, but that’s about as far as the “getting” content from others goes. I try very hard to respect the creative rights and copyright of other writers and bloggers. Copyright matters. Respecting the intellectual property of others matters.  It’s not just a legal matter, it’s an ethical matter. That’s our “fresh-content” pledge. Tips may be similar over time—but I never recycle […]
In trying to find a picture of my mother, I realized that I had digital images of many pictures that were incompletely identified. Don’t neglect to identify people in those photographs. And include that information on the image, along with some provenance. I should have included the date of the wedding, but the names of the couple and location are better than nothing. In older photographs I also include a sentence on how identification was made.   ——————— Don’t forget! We are offering sessions of our popular US land and probate classes this February. Additional details are on our announcement pages.
Never assume that a person with what you think is an usual name might not have a “name twin” somewhere. There were two men named Lubbe Albers living in Illinois at the same point in time, in different parts of the state. They may or may not have been cousins, but the marriage index and census records indicate that they were different men living in different places at the same time–and not the same person. Don’t just grab the first census hit and assume you have the right person. 
Do not assume that your relative’s nickname was derived from their actual birth, legal, or Christian name. The reasons for that nickname may now be lost to history and could be for reasons ranging from the serious to the sublime. NIcknames are usually alternate names based upon a characteristic, life event, behavior, etc. and do not stem from the actual name itself. Shortened names are usually referred to as diminutives.   —————— Our sponsor, GenealogyBank, is offering an annual subscription for a monthly rate equivalent to less than $5 a month.
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