Obituaries can paint a partial picture of a person–never assume they are complete. This 1926 item only mentions one un-named son and an un-named sister-in-law of the deceased. Interestingly enough, the notice does not mention the one daughter who lived in the town where the obituary was published while the son who was referenced lived elsewhere. Never assume the obituary or death notice is complete. Check out Genealogy Tip of the Day—the book!
FamilySearch is indicating that the following database has been updated since our last posting: Utah, County Marriages, 1887-1940
This database has been on FamilySearch for some time, but is an index only. The National Archives houses the originals. United States Index to Alien Case Files, 1940-2003
Records are recorded by local officials in the order in which they are brought to the courthouse. Generally speaking this is relatively close to when the even took place–people generally have vital events recorded quickly. The record where it is most likely to be a problem is with land deeds. For a variety of reasons, some deeds are not recorded promptly. People forget, things get temporarily lost, etc. Often the failure to record a deed is not realized until the purchaser dies and the family wants to sell the property and realizes the deed of purchase was never recorded. Consequently it is imperative to search deeds for sometime after the transaction took place. It is not unheard of for a deed from the 1840s to be recorded in […]
When reviewing materials in any case file (court record, military pension, homestead, etc.), put the papers in chronological order of their execution–not their recording. Viewing the items in the order in which they were created will make it easier to analyze them and interpret them correctly. It is always important to understand the paperflow.
Record books that have copies of deeds, wills, and other records are not the only times you may encounter a document not actually signed by a relative. This 1880-era affidavit in a land claim from Nebraska contains the “signature” of the claimant, but it’s actually her lawyer writing the name. The word “by” is a big clue, combined with the consistent style of handwriting.
I’m offering one last session of this class as I transition away from webinars and online presentations. Details are here.
If your relatives were farmers who owned their own land, do you know how the sections within a township are numbered? Knowing where your relative’s property fits in relationship to others can help you know how close they really live. Not all bordering sections have adjacent numbers. The GLO Primer will give you a broad overview.
There is still time to get Casefile Clues at our old rate of $20 for 52 issues–that’s over 200 pages of genealogy how-to and instructional material written in a way that’s easy to follow and understand. We’ll also throw in a free subscription to my weekly blog update which summarizes postings from my four blogs along with a few extra features only found in the weekly update. Join us and discover more of your ancestors.
I’m glad that others want to share Genealogy Tip of the Day with others. However, I do request that you share in such a way that credits Michael John Neill as the author and Genealogy Tip of the Day as the site of publication. We don’t require payment to reprint or re-use tips. Our suggested citation is actually pretty simple. This tip appeared in Genealogy Tip of the Day ( by Michael John Neill on 25 September 2016 (or whatever date it was). That’s all. I’ve seen newsletters fill entire pages with our tips–which is fine–except there was no author name, date, or original source of publication. That’s not so fine. The tips are distributed freely (and I’m happy to do so), but they do help drive traffic on our site to things […]
Genealogists try to be specific when stating relationships between individuals. Your relative from Omaha might not be as specific when discussing family members. Grandma may have written “Cousin Myrtle” on the back of a photograph. If the person referring to their cousin is still alive, try and get them to be more specific about the relationship, if possible. Don’t suggest what the relationship is. Sometimes “cousins” were were actually cousins (just further down the line than you thought), were related by marriage, or were just neighbors with whom the family was close.
Always transcribe documents as written, making comments about accuracy outside the transcription. This 1921 court document indicated that a brother-in-law of the deceased was a sister of the deceased. It should be transcribed as “…brothers, and Minka Hobben[sic], Heipke Schone, …” The record should not be corrected when the transcription is made. After the transcription is complete a notation that “‘Minka Hobben’ is likely meant to refer to Tjode Habben, who was Mrs. Mimka Habben–oldest sister…” Avoid the temptation to correct the document when making your transcription.
It was not uncommon a husband to bequeath his wife a life estate in his real property upon his death contingent upon her remaining a widow. This life estate in the real property allowed the widow use the property however she saw fit and receive income from the property. She just would be unable to perform any acts that impacted the title to the property–she could not sell, mortgage, or bequeath it in a will. As long as she remained a widow in this case, she “had the power” over the property–and perhaps in a sense over anyone the husband had indicated would inherit it upon her death.
County recorder’s offices in the United States make official record copies of a variety of documents, most have to do with real and personal property. In some locations other agreements between individuals, powers-of-attorney, or other documents may be recorded in what is often termed a “miscellaneous record.” Don’t overlook it. There can be a variety of material in this record–including marriage contracts, personal property liens, contracts and more.
I’m currently booking speaking engagements for 2017 and 2018. If your society or group needs a speaker for their seminar, contact me at for additional details. There’s more about me in the “about” section of my website. Thanks!  
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