It can be frustrating to not be able to locate a record. As a problem-solving approach to try and locate it, pretend you found it. What would be on the record? Where would it be located? Where would it have been recorded? All of those are details that may help you actually find the record.
Reminder that all US federal censuses are free on FamilySearch: United States Census, 1940 United States Census, 1930 United States Census, 1920 United States Census, 1910 United States Census, 1900 United States Census, 1890 United States Census, 1880 United States Census, 1870 United States Census, 1860 United States Census, 1850 United States Census, 1840 United States Census, 1830 United States Census, 1820 United States Census, 1810 United States Census, 1800 United States Census, 1790  
Just because seemingly different sources agree does not mean that they have to be correct–it just means that they agree. Consider whether or not the sources are truly independent. Sometimes different “sources” have the same actual person directly or indirectly providing the information. My grandmother’s 1935 marriage record, 1994 death certificate, and 1994 obituary all provide the same place of birth for her.  Grandma was essentially the informant on all three because her children provided what they were told for the death certificate and the obituary. And all three gave places different from Grandma was actually born. Just because Grandma was consistent does not necessarily mean that she was correct.
Some researchers ask “Why search for someone I already know ‘everything’ on?” or someone “I’m not really researching?” This is why. Because they can lead you to someone else. A search for my great-uncle, Alvin Ufkes, located a reference to him as a pallbearer at the 1962 funeral in Quincy, Illinois, for sister of his grandmother . I may never have located the death notice and the obituary for Anna Buhrmeister (a few days earlier) if I had not searched for my great-uncle in the collection from which this image was taken.  
Stones aren’t always correct. This stone has a date of death for the wife that differs from the date of birth listed on her guardianship in the 1850s. The stone is transcribed as written–I don’t change what something says. But the guardianship record is more contemporary to Franciska’s birth and the informant on that record is likely her mother. Based on estate records for husband John, this stone was erected after his death in 1917–some time after Franciska died with information provided by someone who did not have first hand knowledge. I indicate exactly what the stone says, but for I would give the most credence to the date of birth from the record that was created most closely to her actual birth.
Response to our initial webinar on AncestryDNA that we are working on a new presentation for 8 September–“Working with Your DNA Matches.” This session will focus only on using your matches and working with them. Registration is limited. There are more details on our announcement page.  
I maintain the following genealogy blogs:—Michael’s thoughts, research problems, suggestions, and whatever else crosses his desk Genealogy Tip of the Day—one genealogy research tip every day–short and to the point Genealogy Search Tip—websites I’ve discovered and the occasional online research tip–short and to the point? Subscription/Unsubscription links are on the top of each page. Unsubscription links are also in each email sent.
When dating pictures, look to see if anyone in the photograph is wearing a ring on their “wedding finger.” This could be a clue as to when the photograph was taken. Unless the ring is very clear and easy to compare to the “known wedding ring,” be careful using the presence of a ring on the “right” finger as 100% proof of marriage and photograph date. Like most things, it is a clue.
DNA tests for genealogical research have been heavily marketed. There are times when they will solve problems–or at least help to solve a problem. But DNA needs to be used in concert with other forms of documentation that researchers have been using for years. And DNA will not necessarily make your genealogical research easy. It will give you one more tool in your research toolbox. But it is not the only tool.
Ira Sargent is enumerated in the 1850 and 1860 US Census under the last name of his step-father, Asa Landon. Ira was born in the 1840s and his father, Clark Sargent, died around 1848. By 1850 his mother had married Asa Landon. Ira’s 1870 marriage record is probably the first document where he actually provided his name to the records clerk. Chances are someone else gave his name to the 1850 and 1860 census enumerator. Your relative might have known his “name,” but might never have had a chance to give it to the clerk, enumerator, etc. until after he was “of age.” Is that why you can’t find your person in any record until they get married?
In one document letters can be made differently, depending upon what letter is next. Handwriting is not always consistent–not even within one document. Don’t expect better writing from clerks than you do of yourself <grin>.
This hour-long presentation covers the basics of working with DNA matches at AncestryDNA, including: ethnicity estimate–briefly communities–briefly circles–briefly matches An overview of working with your matches, interpreting them, understanding them, analyzing them and organizing them is presented. Challenges of working with treeless matches, matches with incomplete trees, people who don’t respond, etc. are also discussed. This is a practical how-to session that also includes an overview of DNA and inheritance sufficient to work with the AnestryDNA results without being overwhelming. Comments included: it was a very helpful overview and I appreciated the tips Download is immediate and includes handout and video/audio presentation. Presentation and handout are for personal use only. Orders can be processed securely here (a PayPal account is not necessary–just click through to use a major credit card). Presentation can […]
Sometimes a tombstone for a married couple will be erected after the first spouse dies. A blank will be left to be completed for the surviving spouse. Just because that death date is blank does not mean the surviving spouse is still alive. They could have been buried elsewhere or no one had a stone cutter complete the date of death for the surviving spouse.
It was not uncommon for a person to “change” their name with no official record of the change. In some of these cases there may be a record providing evidence of the change. Feke Johnson used the name Fanny after immigration to the United States. She never naturalized and there’s no “official record” of the change. But her marriage record indicates that her name was “Miss Fanny (alias Feke) Johnson.” A thorough reading of all records on the person of interest may locate an alias reference.
People wait to do things for a variety of reasons. This couple waited to baptize their children until the oldest one was seven years old–despite the fact that their denomination practiced infant baptism. I’m not certain of the reason. The church had a regular pastor when the children were born so there may have been another reason. Don’t assume things always happen when they “are supposed to” and don’t assume all documents “get recorded immediately.” They don’t. If you can’t find it–look in the records a little later. Someone may just have a little slower than other people.
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