Is the “alternate” spelling of your ancestor’s name a clue to how it was pronounced? Sometimes wrong spellings are simply wrong. Other times an incorrect spelling can be a clue to how the name was pronounced by your ancestor. The flip side of this is that if you know how your ancestor likely said his name, you can think of additional alternate spellings. There may be a reason DeMoss was spelled Demoise. Or was it Demorse? Either are clues.
Sometimes it is necessary to enter in an approximate year of an event for an ancestor. Always include in your notes your reason for that approximate year. If there is a source which you used to make the approximation, that should be indicated. Frequently a source will suggest an approximate year for some other event. Don’t just enter in an approximate year or a guess without indicating how you got it. And if you don’t have any reason at all for the approximate year of the event, reconsider entering it in your database in the first place. —————- Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank. Check out their March offer for our readers.
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If you are fortunate enough to find a biography of an ancestor in an old county history or other published reference, consider making a chronology of just the information contained in the biography. This can a good way to notice gaps, inconsistencies, and other potential errors that can hinder your research. It is often a good way to organize the information in the biography as many do not list events in strict chronological order.
Citations are always important in genealogical research, but they can be problematic with ledgers and bound courthouse materials. Courthouse record books are usually not considered “published” and titles can sometimes be difficult to obtain after one has left. One good way to get that “title” is to take a picture of the spine or the cover of the book as that’s often where the title is written. If I’m making copies from several books, I always take a picture of the spine and cover first, then make copies of specific pages. That way the time stamp on the images helps me know what came from what. But ask before taking pictures from record books as some courthouses do not allow it.
Legal descriptions of property in state land states frequently mention the names of neighboring landowners in the metes and bounds descriptions of the property. This confirms the adjoining property owner relationship, something that can always be determined from census and other records. This 1796 deed to James Rampley in Harford County, Maryland, mentioned neighboring landowner John DeMoss. A few years later, one of Rampley’s sons would marry one of DeMoss’ daughters. Even you don’t pay attention to the angles and measurements in these property descriptions, at least look for the names of neighboring land owners. Unfortunately in federal land states descriptions do not usually contain this information.
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United States passport applications between 1795 and 1925 are available on several different sites for those whose ancestors may have temporarily left the United States. Keep in mind that many people who traveled before World War I did not obtain passports.  However these applications can contain significant genealogical clues, particularly for those whose applications are from the 1890s and after. They can be found (with indexes) at: free on FamilySearch –in progress fee-based at fee-based at Fold3 They are on microfilm, but the microfilmed copies are arranged chronologically making it difficult to find the person of interest if you do not know when they applied.
Record copies of deeds and wills at the local courthouse infrequently contain a “replica” of your signer’s signature. What you see is simply the clerk’s transcription of the document and of the signature. If your ancestor made a mark that was different from an “X,” the clerk may have tried to replicate that, but a signature that appears to match the script of the document most likely means that you are looking at a record copy of the document and not your ancestor’s actual signature. It is rare to have an ancestor actually write out his own documents. 
Don’t rush right to the name you want in a local records index. Take a quick look in the very front (and the back) of the index. Sometimes there can be guides to the index or other interesting and helpful bits of information–like this list of alternate names.
I just completed my “Genealogical Problem-Solving” webinar today. It is geared toward advanced beginners and intermediate level genealogists. In it, we discuss a problem-solving techniques and approaches that may be helpful when a person is “stuck.”  Also discussed is a generalized problem-solving process. Our presentation is relaxed and informal–but there’s no 15 minutes of advertising at the beginning and the end of the presentation. That’s not how our presentations are made. It’s entirely content. Genealogical Problem-Solving can be purchased for immediate download–handout and media file included.
Microfilm and digital images of some records usually appear in sequence, front of first document, back of first document, front of second document, back of second document, and so on. There are always exceptions. This marriage bond was split over three images on FamilySearch: Just the middle of the front The entire back Then the entire front If I had assumed every piece of paper was two images, I would have missed the best part of all–the third image. I always move forwards and backwards on any set of digital images to make certain nothing is overlooked.
There are several ways a chronology of all the events in your ancestor’s life can be useful in genealogical research. Here are a few quick things searchers can do with a chronology: look for gaps in the time line–where was the person during the gap? see census years where you’ve not found the person use it as a scaffold to start writing your ancestor’s biogrphy simply organize what you have on the ancestor  
It is easy to go in circles searching for information from genealogical databases. That’s why the most effective searches are ones that are organized and structured. This allows the researcher to not overlook possible search options and see how to troubleshoot when the desired individuals are not located. In this hour-long presentation, see practical and down-to-earth approaches to making better use of your online search time.  After discussing general strategies, we will look at two detailed examples which can then be modeled for your own problem ancestors. Order Michael’s presentation on “Online Search Strategies” (and handouts) for immediate download. The presentation can be viewed as many times as you want.
A minor could have had several guardians during their minority if one or both of their parents were deceased. Guardians generally fall into two categories: Guardian of the person–watched over the child and the child typically lived with them. Parents were often “guardians of the person,” and were sometimes referred to as “natural guardians.” Guardian of the estate–watched over the child’s inheritance. These guardians may have been the same person, may have been relatives, and may have changed during the child’s minority. Or not–it depends upon the situation. There is also the possibility that a guardian ad litem was appointed for a minor.  A guardian ad litem was usually appointed for a child when that child was somehow involved in legal action and did not have a guardian of their […]
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