Dobbin Gray’s Gone But There are Clues in There

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.


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The Poor May Write Wills–But Probably Not

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.

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Jumping to the Correct Conclusion

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 Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank. Try their “GenealogyBank Search” and see what discoveries you make.

Do You Really Have It All?

As Jade correctly points out in the comments this is not from the pension file. These index cards are online. The pension files are at the National Archives.

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.

Sometimes a T Really Is Just a T

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.

Is a Black Hole Your Problem?

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.

Do You Have Undigitized Photographs?

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.

To My Wife a Life Estate

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.

Have You Reached Out to All Lines?

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?