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Pension Applications May Spin Things a Little

The purpose of a pension application is to get the applicant the pension. For that reason, certain details of the applicant’s condition, may occasionally be exaggerated. Relationship facts and dates are usually supported by other documentation, but the physical condition of the claimant may be written in a way to make the condition seem worse than it actually is.

The veteran in this case didn’t have long to live, but did not actually die for nine years. He may have made a recovery or the letter writer may have made his claim sound more dire than it actually was.


Can Contemporary Maps Help Transcribe?

Some place names can be difficult to read in old documents. Sometimes so difficult that using online databases to search for the place name is virtually impossible. If possible, find contemporary (or reasonably contemporary) maps of the area where the person might have lived at the time of the event. It may be easier to find the location on an actual map that trying to search an online atlas. And modern atlases and finding aids may be of little help in determining the name of a location from 1860. mapsCan

Initials Only Please

initialsLast names are not the only thing that can get written in a way on a record that makes the person difficult to find. First names can be abbreviated or shortened to just initials. If those initials are hard to read, the “first name” may be really off from what you think it is. Sometimes it pays to search only based on last name if practical.


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Deeds Can Be Recorded Later

deed-recordedLand records are not recorded in the order in which they were executed. They are recorded in the order in which they were brought to the courthouse for recording. Your ancestor may have waited a few years to record his deed. He may have forgotten and when the heirs went to settle up they discovered that Pa had never recorded his deed. They’d have to record it before they could record any deeds of sale or transfer after his death.

If your landowning ancestor lived in a county from 1830-1852, don’t stop looking for land deeds in 1852. There could be records recorded much later. It was the purchaser who recorded the deed. If your relative sold his property to an unorganized purchaser, that deed may not have been immediately recorded.


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Granville is in the Neighborhood

Unexpected first names that seem to appear out of nonamed4where usually don’t. There’s a reason, it’s just a matter of finding what that reason is. The family of John and Charlotte Lake of Chariton County, Missouri, contained a son Granville, born in the 1860s.

The first name did not appear in earlier or even later branches of the family.

Browsing 1860 census for the family gave the probable origin of the name:

the neighbor was named Granville Dowell

There are several reasons to browse the neighbors in a census.