Did A Single (or Married) Man Arrive First?

Sometimes before the entire family arrived in a new country, one or two family members (usually men and usually single, but not always) would immigrate first, get established, and then send back for the rest of the family.

If you’ve found the “family’s passenger list entry,” consider searching for a brother or other male relative who might have immigrated first. Peter Freund and Peter Hornung immigrated in 1853, followed by Freund’s siblings and extended family along with Hornung’s wife or sister a few years later. single-man


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Multiple Maiden Names Does Not Mean Multiple Husbands

Depending upon what record was believed, a certain relative for in the 1870s in Illinois had one of three maiden names. The relative herself had not been married multiple times and her parents had not either. Her parents had never been married and she was adopted (informally) about the age of seven. The “maiden names” given for her ended up being:

  • her birth father’s surname
  • her birth mother’s surname
  • her adoptive parents’ surname

Never assume all those different names are wrong. They may just be clues.


Check out our current webinars, land records class, or 25 Brick Walls webinar.

Names Translated?

If your ancestor moved to a country or region where a different language was spoken, was his name translated before it was entered in various records?

It could explain your difficulty in finding him.

25 Brick Wall Strategies

New webinar!

25 Brick Wall Strategies

Date/Time: 20 April 2016 at 7:00 pm central time

If you’ve enjoyed our “Brick Wall” series, this one will revisit some of our more popular approaches along with new examples and a few new tricks thrown in the mix. Sometimes it never hurts to hear something again, if only for the reminder. This presentation will include a handout with the concepts discussed and brief examples demonstrating the approach.

If you can’t attend live, registrants receive complimentary download of presentation and handouts afterwards.

Register for this presentation.

Keeping House or a Housekeeper in 1880

According to the “Instructions to the Enumerators” for the 1880 census posted on the website for the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota, there is a difference between someone who is shown to be a housekeeper and someone who is said to be keeping house in the 1880 census.

A housekeeper receives wages or salary for their service. A woman who is keeping house for themselves or their families (without other gainful occupation) is said to be “keeping house.”

This could easily apply to other enumerations as well.

Adoptions Were Often Informal

Adoptions were not necessarily the result of some type of legal proceeding. Many adoptions were informal and the child was taken in by relatives or neighbors. The child in this illustration was living in the county poor farm with her mother when she was adopted in the 1870s. There was no court action and no record of her adoption.
Researchers should see if there was some local court record of the adoption, but before the 20th century, most adoptions were informal. Later adoptions that were the result of court proceedings may have records that are closed or sealed.



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Still Time to Join Me In Salt Lake City

I’m excited about my 2016 trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah10341967_10203261358329067_7378172252590435968_n

There’s still time to join me for a week of research at a time when the library is not crammed with other people or there is a conference going on.

Some of us plan quite a bit what we are going to do and others do not. I have a short list of things of my own I need to look up. It is important to remember that there are things at the library that are not online.

There are more details on our site. Our trip is informal and laid back. The only “scheduled” activities are a short meeting the first evening and (optional) morning sessions. Attendees are encouraged to plan ahead and meet with me during the trip to work on research strategies. That can be done before we leave as well online.

Otherwise it’s about the research.


Following Up the Obituary

Don’t just search a newspaper for an obituary of your ancestor. Local, weekly newspapers mention relatives of your ancestor coming from a distance for the funeral–including the town where they currently lived. There may be mention of your ancestor’s final illness as well as relatives who came to visit.



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