Post-Move Deeds May Document Move

Some genealogists avoid deeds unless they know an inheritance is being settled. This 1875 deed was drawn up after the sellers had moved to their new residence. The acknowledgement indicated the county in which they were living at the time, thus documenting the move and the new residence. If I had not located the deed, I might have never known they spent  few years in Mendota, Illinois.

By 1880, they had moved to another location.  deeds-document-moving

Location, Location, Location

Think about all the locations where a record could be created or recorded. Death certificates are recorded where the individual died, but in more recent times a certified copy may be recorded in the jurisdiction overseeing the probate of the estate. Land records are usually recorded in the jurisdiction where the real property is located. Birth records are usually recorded in the jurisdiction where the person was born, although delayed records may be filed where the person was living at the time the delayed record was created.


Don’t Just Take Closeups

One of the most legible photographs of a tombstone was one that I took approximately twenty-five feet from the stone. The other shots, taken from a variety of stances closer to the stone, were not as legible.

Digital film is cheap. Take pictures.

Context Matters

It helps to be familiar with the families involved when transcribing paper records, tombstones, etc.  The probable grave of Herman Sartorius in Adams County, Illinois’ South Prairie Cemetery was easier to identify given that it was next to Sartorius’ in-laws Ulfert and Fredericka (Lichtsinn) Behrens.

Had I been merely been transcribing stones out of context, I probably would not have realized the stone was probably that of Sartorius.behrens-south-prairie

More than One Obituary?

Your person of interest could easily have had more than one obituary or death notice. Don’t stop when you find the first obituary. Different local newspapers may have printed slightly different versions of the death notice or obituary. If your ancestor was an immigrant, a local “ethnic” newspaper may have printed an obituary or death notice–perhaps with more details than the English language newspapers. Religious, occupational, or trade publications may also have published an obituary with information not included the regular newspaper’s notice.

Sometimes An Error Is Just An Error

It is easy to make an error that simply is an unintentional error. The typographical error in the example is easy to spot “Indinan,” but errors of this type can impact dates of birth, places of birth, etc. Always consider the possibility that when one record is different from all the others that the explanation could be as easy as a simply mistake.two-tips

Where In the Chain?

If your ancestor moved from point A to point B, consider asking yourself the following questions about your ancestor and the move:

  • What brought him to that new location?
  • What evidence do you have for thinking that was the motivation for moving?
  • Did other relatives, friends, etc. migrate before him?
  • Did other relatives, friends, etc. migrate after him?

Answering those questions (or at least trying to) may give your research a little jump.

Maybe You Don’t Need to Know Every Detail

Some relatives are reluctant to talk to the family genealogist for fear that every detail of a family skeleton or scandal will be broadcast for the world to hear.

Ask yourself if you really need to know every detail of every family squabble. It may be sufficient to know that two uncles fought over money when their father died and never spoke again. It may be sufficient to know that a mother and daughter didn’t speak for the last twenty years of the mother’s life without going into excruciating detail of exactly what precipitated the falling out.

Sometimes, if the person to whom you are talking actually “lived through the family drama,” it may be difficult to get answers to questions because the entire situation is painful. Tread lightly. “Drama” and scandal look different when one was not in the throes of it.

Sometimes if you press too hard you end up with no information from a relative. And something is usually better than nothing.

Did They Go West and Return?

Is it possible that your temporarily “missing” relative headed west for a short time only to return home? I had a relative live in Nebraska in the 1880s just long enough to complete a homestead claim before he returned to Illinois. Another ancestor only spent a year in Nebraska in the 1870s before returning home.

And several crossed the pond from Europe to the United States only to permanently return some time later.


Write it Down Before You Tree It

Before entering information into a genealogical database, consider writing the information down and charting the relationships on paper to make certain you understand them and can visualize them. In families where individuals were married more than once or had children with more than one person, it can be easy to enter relationships incorrectly.