Marriage Information in 1860 US Census

The 1860 US census asks if the person was married within the census year. It can be easy to overlook this column, particularly if the person is someone you don’t think would have gotten married during the census year. This can be a significant clue, particularly in locations that do not have marriage records.


One Record–Several Informants?

This 1932 death certificate from Pennsylvania clearly has been filled out by more than one person. The handwriting and ink are not consistent across the document. Do you always consider that more than one person may have provided information for a record? The handwriting doesn’t even have to be different for more than one person to have provided the information-it just means that one person wrote down all the answers. one-document-many-informants

Webinar on Elements of Citation

Registration ends at 6:00 pm central on 26 January 2016. See below to register.

Date: 28 January 2017–2:00 pm central. Session hosted via GotoWebinar.img_20160610_112610540

Citation does not have to be intimidating or something to avoid. Our focus will be on citation for the non-professional who realizes that they need to cite but does not want to become obsessed with it. In this hour-long presentation we will see how to cite:

  • census records
  • wills
  • obituaries–both in the newspaper and one you found in Grandma’s old bible
  • photographs
  • tombstones
  • family items and heirlooms
  • vital records
  • more as time allows

Register here.

Citation does not have to be a dreaded part of research. See how it can actually help and strengthen your research. Registration limited. Handout included.

Are You Mentioning Unnamed Persons?

Our post on the essential essence of citation was necessarily short. There’s one short way that it can be improved:

  • when using your own memory as a source–include your name.

Someone else later reading your material of your file may not know who is meant when you say “personal memory.” Include your name, “personal memory of compiler Susan (Longunusualgermanname) Smith.”

And never refer to people as just Aunt Brenda or Uncle Horace. Use complete names.

Administrators do not Have to be Relatives

Administrators do not have to be relatives of the deceased. Do not assume there were no relatives living nearby if a “non-relative” is appointed to administrate the estate. Administrators can be neighbors or others appointed by the court. In some locations relatives (including the spouse) may have to sign a waiver giving up their preferential right to act as administrator.


The estate of Michael Trautfetter from Illinois in 1869 (shown in the illustration) was administrated by Julius Bierman. Bierman had no relationship connection to the family.

Remember Your Cousin in Santa Fe

Citing sources frustrates some researchers. They worry about format, style, and the appropriate placement of punctuation.cousin-sant-fe

Don’t fret over such things. As we will see your concern should be over your cousin in Santa Fe.

If you put a date of an event in your genealogical database, include the reason. It could be

  • death certificate for John Q. Rampley in the Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, courthouse
  • birth certificate for Susanna Rucker in the Orange County, Virginia, courthouse
  • family bible in possession of my aunt, Mrs. Donna Askme Questions
  • personal memory–he died after I graduated high school
  • personal memory–they married before we moved to Idaho

Purists will frown at these citations. Let the the frown lines be their own reward. Are there a few minor details missing? Yes. Is it better than no citation at all? Yes. Those who quibble over the precise comma placement will roll their eyes. Let them roll their eyes til their sockets wear out.

Your cousin from Santa Fe who encounters your file will be glad you went to the trouble.

Worry about your cousin in Santa Fe. The purists and the quibblers will always be with us and are difficult to please. Leave them to their frowning and eye rolling. Your cousin in Santa Fe will find your citations a cool breeze refreshing their research frustration.

Remember your cousin in Santa Fe.

Devote Some Time to Learning

Do you devote some of your “genealogy time” to learning while you are not actively researching? While we all learn as we research it is understandably easy to let the research distract us. Are you devoting some of your research time to:

  • learning about “new to you” sources
  • learning about “new to you” methods
  • learning about “new to you” technologies
  • learning about the history, culture, and geography of where your ancestor lived

Regularly learning something new generally will help your research.


They Moved to the Slough from the Habben Corner

The names of some locations may be informal and only exist in the minds of local residents. Official location names may be used in legal and other documents, but newspapers (particularly “gossip columns”), family letters and less formal materials may refer to places by names used by the locals.

I know where the Habben Corner was and where the Meadow Slough south of Carthage, Illinois, approximately is, but these location names won’t appear in any gazetteer or geographic directory. Local libraries, historical/genealogical societies, or “old timers” may know the places to which these unofficial names refer.


Where Do the Leaves Come From?

Where do the “hint leaves” on your  tree come from? Generally speaking, most leaves result from:

  • links other people have made in their own trees. That is, you link an 1880 census for Hinrich ReallylongnameIcannotspell. Another person who has linked that 1880 census entry to their tree’s entry for their Hinrich links that Hinrich to an 1870 census record for Hinrich ReallylongnameIcanspell. You may get a “hint leaf” suggesting the 1870 census record for Hinrich ReallylongnameIcanspell when you find the 1880 census record for Hinrich ReallylongnameIcannotspell.
  • search results based upon broad searches for information in your database.
  • larger databases. “Hint leaves” do not include every database on


My “practice” online tree is online at

Ignoring the First Wife?

I’m not exactly certain what brought Andrew Trask to St. Louis in the 1840s, but shortly after his arrival he married Ellen Weld. She died shortly after the marriage and he married again and had all his children with his second wife. Research has focused on the second wife, because that’s the one with whom he had children.

Clues as to Andrew’s origins could like in learning more about his first wife and his first marriage, particularly as it took place shortly after he arrived in St. Louis. Don’t ignore ancestral spouses that left no children behind. no-kids