I was chatting on Facebook with a fellow genealogist about one of our common families. Our discussion got me to thinking about a relative I’ve not researched in a while and I decided to start searching passenger lists for this person using what I could remember about the deceased ancestor off the top of my head. Mistake. Big mistake. Changing gears and working on a person or a family you have not researched in a while is a great way to make headway–a fresh start works wonders. But go back and review the information that has been located already. Don’t research based on details you remember “off the top of your head.” Chances are there are details that are remembered incorrectly and searching based on those details can waste […]
When used in legal documents, certain words have specific legal meanings that are frequently very specific. These words may also be used in common conversation to have slightly different or less narrowly defined meanings. A legal dictionary or contemporary state statute should help to clarify the definition. A legal infant is typically someone under the age of majority. That’s not what is meant when your relative says their granddaughter is still an infant. Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank. Try their “GenealogyBank Search” and see what discoveries you make.
The bulk of my work in Swedish records has been in the early to mid-19th century. During this time period in the area where the families I worked on lived, women were listed with their maiden names whether they were married or not. My attempts to find a certain relative were stymied until I realized that she had lived until the early 20th century and was listed with her married name and not her maiden name.  Times change. Common practices change. Make certain you are using the approach best suited for the time period and location in which you are working. What worked in one century may not work in another.  
We’ve included part of a recently discovered letter signed by Abraham Lincoln as fodder for today’s tip which was discovered while searching unindexed records at the National Archives. The discovery reminds us: Not all records have been digitized. Many records are unindexed. You never know what’s waiting to be discovered. Thanks to Jonathan Deiss of Soldiersource.com for making the discovery and letting us share it with readers. Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank. Try their “GenealogyBank Search” and see what discoveries you make.
Make certain to review all estate accountings showing how inheritances from an estate were disbursed. Do not only look at one list.  Intermediate or final accountings may indicate that there were heirs who originally survived the deceased died before the estate could be settled. Their heirs would then be listed in more recent lists of disbursements. This can be a good way to estimate dates of deaths and learn more names of heirs, particularly for estates that took a while to settle.
This 1906 item regarding a “missing” horse tells quite a bit about its owner, including: confirming the dairyman’s address. giving his occupation. suggesting church affiliation providing last known “alive on” date Sometimes the biggest clues in newspapers are not found in the “in-your-face” items but instead are in the daily grind of life references that seem mundane on the surface. And whether or not something is a clue depends upon what you know and what you don’t.   Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank. Try their “GenealogyBank Search” and see what discoveries you make.
Don’t assume that because your ancestor was “poor” that he left no will. There may have been one remaining family heirloom that he wanted to give to someone or a small amount of money he did not want someone to have. An aunt lived from widow’s pension check to pension check and she left a will. Most poorer individuals did not leave wills, but it is possible that they did. Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank. Try their “GenealogyBank Search” and see what discoveries you make.
I always assumed that my great-grandparents met because they grew up on farms a few miles apart. It’s an easy conclusion as proximity facilitates relationships. But there was more to it. I learned later that he worked for a few years as a hired man for his future mother-in-law. It’s not unusual for the hired man to marry one of the daughters. It’s not those details that are the point. The reminder is that we should not quit looking for “reasons” just because we have the reason. We may not know the whole story. While our initial “reason” may be valid, the other reasons may provide additional insight and research suggestions. Jumping to the correct conclusion can sometimes limit us. But it is better than jumping to the wrong conclusion. Genealogy […]
Years ago I received copies from the National Archives of selected documents from the Civil War pension file for my relative, Emmar Osenbaugh. The file was rather large and, since I’m somewhat “stuck” on certain parts of her life (and that of her parents), I decided to obtain a copy of the entire pension file. If you have an abstract of a record or selected documents is it possible that there are clues in those un-abstracted pieces of information or un-selected documents? Sometimes what seems trivial to someone unfamiliar with the family is not trivial at all. Note: (added after Jade’s comment) The cards referenced in Jade’s comment are located online at United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933” on FamilySearch.
It was somewhat unusual, but it’s possible that your relative’s middle name really was just a letter. Most of the time that middle letter does  stand for something, it’s just a matter of determining what it was. But there are always exceptions to the rule.
Sometimes parts of records are missing. It is always a challenge to find names that have been removed from a record, but consider searching: by other search terms. for others who “should be on the same page.” page by page if possible.
Color photographs from the 1960s and 1970s are notorious for fading. Sometimes they are blurry.  If you have access to photographs from this era that have not been scanned or preserved digitally consider doing so. Don’t forget to put what documentation you can on the photograph itself. Even something is better than nothing–at least your name, where you got the photograph, and when you digitized it.
Mimke Habben’s will gave his wife a life estate in his real estate after his death. This meant she could use the property, earn income from it, and (within reason) use it as she saw fit. She could not sell, mortgage, or bequeath the property. Her husband’s will indicated who was to get it upon her death–in this case it went to all their children. There are reasons a person may do this. In Mimke’s case it prevented his wife from giving the entire farm to one child–which she tried to do by writing a will that a local judge refused to probate upon her death.
I maintain the following blogs: Genealogy Tip of the Day Rootdig Genealogy Search Tip of the Day Each is slightly different and there are subscription links on each page. We do not use “popups” to get people to subscribe. Thanks—and feel free to share information on our blogs with others who may be interested.
Sometimes it can seem like we are the only person researching a certain family or set of ancestors. Sometimes we get so focused on going back further and further that we neglect to track down modern descendants. This can be important even if writing a book of all your ancestor’s descendants is the furthest thing from your mind. Any of those descendants can have a family item that could be useful in your research. They may know stories, etc. I recently made contact with a descendant of one of my great-great-grandfather’s brother’s descendants. If you think about it, your great-great-great-grandparents may have more descendants than you think. Who knows which lineage path ended up with the family bible and other items?
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