Many individuals who received military land warrants for pre-Civil war service in the United States did not actually settle the property. Instead they sold the warrant to someone else. If that’s the case, the back of the original warrant (housed at the National Archives) may have their signature as a part of the assignment of the warrant. Of course, they also could have just made their mark.
If a tombstone gives a date of death and an age of death, the date of birth can be calculated for entry into a database. It should clearly be indicated when entering in and sourcing the date of birth that a calculated date of birth was used. That way it has been made clear that the stone did not give the actual date of birth. Of course if the birth date is on the stone it should be entered in your database–citing the stone, but not indicating that the date was calculated.
I maintain the following genealogy blogs (unsubscribe links at top of each page):—Michael’s thoughts, research problems, suggestions, and whatever else crosses his desk. Daily posts are free. Casefile Clues Blog–this is the blog with updates on my how-to newsletter, articles and people I’m working on, a few genealogy methodology comments, etc. The blog is free to subscribe to. The PDF newsletter is by subscription only. Genealogy Tip of the Day—one genealogy research tip every day–short and to the point. Daily posts are free. Genealogy Search Tip—websites I’ve discovered and the occasional online research tip–short and to the point. Daily posts are free. Genealogy Transcriber—can you read the handwriting? Daily posts are free. The fee-based newsletters are Casefile Clues and the weekly blog update. If you have difficulties […]
Records in the United States indicate an ancestor was born in Germany on 29 September 1808. Those records all provided secondary information regarding her birth, but they were all that I had. Records of her baptism in Germany indicated she was born on 29 September 1807. The place of birth is consistent with United States records and the later marriage has her married to the husband she later immigrated with. I know I have the right person. The church record of her birth and baptism is a contemporary one, so that’s what I’ll use as her date of birth in my files–along with the source. I won’t change my transcriptions of the records in the United States as that would indicate they say something they do not. I will […]
If your ancestor owned property, make certain you obtain documentation of both land transfers, how they obtained it and how it left their possession. This may include deeds of purchase and sale or it may include: wills intestate probates heirship deeds foreclosures tax sales etc.  
While some families religiously stay within the same denomination, others may change depending upon what church is nearby, particularly if they live in a rural area and the nearby church is not too different from their previous church. “Too different” is a relative phrase. What might have been “too different” for one person might not have been for another. Don’t assume the family was always a member of the same denomination. That’s not necessarily the case.
Your relative may have given two of their children names that in their native language sounded similar, but were different. Those two names could have been anglicized or translated into the same name. My great-grandparents had a daughter Anna and Anke, named for their grandmothers. Anke is frequently anglicized to Anna. To use names that sounded different, the one named Anna used her middle name of Margaret and Anke used Anna. An earlier couple had sons named Janns and Johann, both of whom went by John.
It’s easy to get an assumption in our head and not realize it was an assumption. Wilhelmina Kraft was listed as an heir when her brother died in Illinois in 1869. I found her in a few census records after that, but could not find out anything about her before the estate settlement. No children are listed with her in the census and I assumed she had none. I searched various records for her with her married name of Kraft and with her maiden name of Trautvetter. Nothing. Then it dawned on me. Her marriage to Kraft could have been a later-in-life marriage as she would have been in her sixties when her brother died. She could easily have had a husband (and been married to him for […]
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Do you have research from your “early days” that needs to be reviewed? Often the worst part of that task is getting citations for those things you copied, wrote down, or scribbled on pieces of paper that would dwarf a postage stamp. Your citation does not have to be perfect. Commas and semicolons can be in the wrong place. The world will not end. But going back and reviewing where you “got that stuff” when you were first researching may help you more than you think.
You’ve found the places on a map where your ancestral families used to live. Have you really tried to visualize how far apart those places are? Would it have been relatively easy for two people from those villages to meet? How long would it probably have taken to travel between the two locations? Would the terrain have made the trip easier or more difficult? How populated was the area? People eight miles apart in a rural area may be more likely to meet than people eight miles apart in a more urban setting–unless they met through church or some other social means.
A colleague with a genealogy problem was confused as the husband’s wife was named Antonia Petrosky in some records and Victoria Petrosky in others. She was convinced the wife’s name was actually Antonia Victoria Petrosky. Analyzing the records a little more closely revealed that his wife was always Antonia in records before 1880 and was always Victoria in records after 1880, including births of children. Children born before 1880 indicated their mother was Antonia and those born after 1880 always indicated their mother was Victoria. I suggested to her that she consider the man was married to Antonia until 1880 and to Victoria after 1880 and that they were possibly sisters or cousins.
If you can’t find a marriage for an ancestor who had one or more children, don’t assume that because they had children that they “had to have been married.” While it was not the norm, having children without being married certainly happened. Many church records in denominations that practiced infant baptism will make special note of the situation and may (or may not) name the purported father.
Court records are not necessarily correct. An 1870s Illinois probate case indicated three heirs were the children of Ernestine (Trautvetter) Hess and gave them the last name of Hess. Problem was that all of Ernestine’s sons did not have the last name of Hess and may have been born to Ernestine before her marriage.
Writing up your research is always advised, even if only for yourself. It can strengthen your conclusions and help you see gaps. Creating citations (even if they are not perfect and aren’t punctuated “correctly”) gets you thinking about how the record you used was created and how it was accessed. My how-to newsletter Casefile Clues contains written up analysis of individual records and families. It’s probably more than a person typically needs to do for each record, but the goal is to get readers thinking about each document they acquire, what it means, what it doesn’t, where to go next, etc.
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