Documents can surprise you and that’s one reason why locating as many things as possible is good for your research. I thought this would be a typical mortgage when I saw it in the land records index for Hancock County, Illinois. Instead of a fixed series of payments, the 1869 document stated that the son was to pay the parents a fixed annual amount until they died and to take care of them until their death as well. Not quite your typical mortgage.
A colleague told me that if I needed some quick research pointers on a certain geographic area that I should feel free to ask him.  I thought I had a question for him. When typing it in a message, I realized there were two approaches I had not yet tried and that I should do that before asking for his input. Putting your research question together so that someone can make sense of it may make you realize that you know what to do next. And, even if it doesn’t, organizing your thoughts before asking will make it easier for someone to help you.  
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