Pick One Way to Spell It

All of us sometimes need to be reminded of things.

For me–it’s spelling a last name consistently when writing about one specific person or couple. In writing a narrative about two members of my Behrens family, I alternated between Behrends and Behrens. I need to choose one spelling.

Documents and records should be transcribed as they are written. But when writing expository paragraphs about an individual, I should use a consistent spelling.

Letting Go of that First Conclusion

Never be so stuck on an initial conclusion that you avoid other reasonable scenarios or avoid looking for records because the person you need to find “simply cannot be in that location.”

A relative concluded a family member returned to Germany for a visit and returned to the United States simply because the ancestor could not be located in the 1870 census. The story of the trip was repeated enough that it became an accepted fact.

It’s easy to jump to conclusions when we are first starting out. We can sometimes “break brick walls” by going back and reviewing those initial conclusions.

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Farm Wife Covers a Lot of Ground

Today’s tip comes after a discussion we had on Facebook regarding a chart I made a few months back.

The term “farm wife” covers a lot of ground–figuratively as well as literally. If you know details of what your “stay at home ancestor” did, include that in your research notes. Make certain to include how you came to know this information–don’t include what you don’t have some sort of source for.

It was not unusual to find my Grandma Neill doing a variety of barn and other farm chores.

My other Grandma didn’t do barn chores.

If you know some of the details of what your “farm wife” ancestor did, have you included that in your research notes?

And even if your ancestor wasn’t a farm wife, there’s probably details regarding “housework” that you can include in your notes about her.

An Overall Genealogy Goal

Tell your ancestor’s story as accurately and as completely as you can, citing your sources along the way.  It really doesn’t matter if your citation punctuation is incorrect–as long as your citation is complete.

That’s still no guarantee you’ll get it all or that you’ll get it completely “right,” but it’s an excellent way to start.

If you want to get your citations correct, you can use Evidence Explained your guide, but the world will not end if your punctuation is incorrect. Seriously.

Read the Entire Manifest

Years ago, I discovered my ancestors on an 1853 shippassenger list. I didn’t read any other names.

Later I did.

It turned out that there were other relatives on the manifest. The family immediately after the ancestral family was the niece of the father and her family. Twenty entries before the ancestral family was the married daughter and her small child.

Read the entire passenger manifest. Think about the names.

There may be more there than you think.

People like to travel with others they know when they can.

Heirloom Plants

Do you have any heirloom plants and have you documented their story along with your other tiger-lilllygenealogical information?

This tiger lily originally belonged to my great-grandmother, Tjode (Goldenstein) Habben (1882-1954)  who gave bulbs to her daughter, Dorothy (Habben) Ufkes (1924-2008), my maternal grandmother.

Take pictures of your plant and write down as much of the story as you know, including various locations where the plant grew and who owned it.


My Neighbors Now Were Probably My Neighbors Then

Pre-1850 United States census records, which frequently only list a county of residence, can be a challenge when the names are spelled wrong and the writing is difficult to read. If you can’t find you person in 1830, try searching for his 1820 and 1830 neighbors in 1840 and then looking closely in the vicinity of that name (at least a few pages befor and after). You may find the person of interest. neighbors-hard-to-see

Three Out of Seven Are a Mystery

The biggest mistakes are when you “think you know everything” or when you’ve researched a family for so long that you forget things you located years ago.

This overlooked 1860 census entry raised more questions than it answered–was there a relationship with either of the two farmers the young couple was living with? Was the teenager related to young husband?

Always check and review–especially when you’ve been researching a family for a while.


The Back Side of the Stone

Make certain you have looked at every side of a stone for additional inscriptions, significant markings, etc. There could be something of value on the reverse side of stone and some families did the best they could to get the most possible out of the stone.stone-with-directions