If it’s included, don’t crop the photographer information from digital images you make of photographs. That information at the very least can help you to date and place the picture. Removing it could remove key information about the picture. Check out our webinars: genealogy sources genealogy DNA
Most of us wish our ancestors had left behind more stories, but few of us have letters, diaries, or other personal records of daily events in our ancestors’ lives. Don’t forget to record your own stories as well as working to document the lives of those who came before you. Those who come after you will be glad you did. The stories do not need to be profound or life-changing. Sometimes mundane events can be just as interesting–like this one I wrote on a china set my daughter obtained for a wedding present.
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A newspaper reference to a relative’s 1911 marriage in a local newspaper stated that she was the daughter of “Mrs. Susan Smith.” No father was listed. One might assume that Susan’s husband was dead or divorced because she was listed with her first name and without her husband being mentioned at all. Not in this case: Susan and her husband were separated (they ever divorced) and he was very much alive. Whether a woman was “named” with her own first name or was listed as Mrs. HusbandFirstName HusbandLastName varies over time and sometimes there are regional differences as well. The best bet is to copy the item as it is written and only infer what it says–that the mother had a certain name and was alive at the […]
Obituaries often mention survivors of the deceased person. In some cases a distinction may be made between full, half, and step-siblings. In others, no such distinction may be made. If the obituary is the only source for sibling information and you have reason to believe one or both of the deceased person’s parents were married more than once, it is possible that “siblings” in listed in the obituary may not have had the exact same set of parents. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it. If you’d like to get our genealogy tip daily in your email for free, add your address here.
While DNA passes from parent to child, each child only gets half of each of their individual parent’s DNA. Consequently, as a lineage is worked back in time, there will be ancestors in your genealogical tree with whom you might not share any DNA. It doesn’t mean that the ancestor is not your ancestor. It simply means that their DNA did not makes it’s way all the way down to you. While DNA is microscopically small, there’s only so much your body needs. Some suggest (for example, Blaine Bettinger in his  The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy) that once a lineage is traced back to the 4th great-grandparents that there are paper genealogy tree ancestors with whom you do not share DNA.  That’s why you […]
Names can easily be spelled more than one way–even on the same document. When viewing other names on that census page for possible relatives, consider that names that are “kinda close” may be relatives with the same last name. The last name of Behrens in this 1860 census enumeration from Adams County, Illinois, was spelled four ways on the same census page. None of them were Behrens. The variants were due to handwriting irregularities and how the census taker likely heard the last name.  
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Some newspapers are notoriously bad about spreading obituaries and other items out. Make certain if you are cropping an item from a digital image of a newspaper that you get the entire item. Reading it before you crop it will go a long way to ensuring that happens. Time saved will be lost when you go to read the item and realize that you got a little “crop happy.”
There were several migration trails across the United States beginning with the earliest days of settlement. Those trails are important and researchers need to be aware of them. However some people don’t exactly follow the trails. And some people are part of group of migrants connected by ethnicity, religion, or other shared social bonds who move together over decades. These longer, smaller, and more personal migrations are often referred to as migration chains. There are a variety of records that can provide clues as to such migration chains, including: county histories, academic studies of migration, pension affidavits, church histories, and others Such records have given me evidence of migration chains, including: Dunkards who moved from Maryland to Kentucky to Indiana to Illinois and Iowa starting in the late […]
My Grandma always told me they went four counties away (staying within the same state) to get married because “your Grandpa just decided to.” They weren’t hiding the marriage from their relatives and were well over the legal age to marry. From what I heard about my Grandpa, he never did anything on a whim. Chances are your ancestor did not pack up and move for no reason either. It might have been because local soils were getting depleted, former neighbors wrote home with news of “prosperous times further west,” a new political allegiance increased the chance of sons being drafted into military service, Pa got a military bounty warrant, or one of several other reasons. Have you tried to find out what might have motivated your ancestors […]
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I spent some time looking for information on an ancestor in the mid-1800s whose maiden name I thought was Franciska Haase. Several records, including her marriage record which listed her as “Miss FranciskaHaase,” provided that maiden name. It was not until I altered my approach and considered that Haase was the last name of her step-father that I was able to actually locate her. Consider that the last name you think is the maiden name could actually be the last name of a step-father. It’s also possible that the marriage you think is your female ancestor’s first could actually be her second.  
Indexes that take us to one page are great, but they can be limiting if we only look at the page referenced in the index or linked to from the online search results. Some US federal censuses have more than one page. The 1840 census in particular contains names of Revolutionary War veterans on the right hand page–which many researchers fail to look at because it’s the “next image.” Deed books can contain multiple deeds from the same grantor recorded sequentially–if they were brought in for recording at the same time. For one reason or another the others may not have been indexed. When you find a deed always go a page or two before and after. Neighbors on the next census page may be relatives. Occasionally siblings […]
Whenever a person dies with minor children, it is advised to search for all the records of the settlement of their estate. Parents or siblings of the deceased (particularly males before the 20th century and often afterwards) could have been appointed administrator of the estate or guardian of the children. Sometimes the relationship will be spelled out and sometimes it will not. In 1865, Joseph Belles petitioned the Fulton County, Illinois, court to be appointed administrator of the estate of Peter Belles as Peter’s children were all minors. Joseph in his petition of 4 May 1865 stated that he was the father of Peter Belles. Not every estate of this type will state the relationship between the administrator and the deceased and there may be no relationship. But […]
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