Another Set of Paws…Err Eyes

Sometimes one needs an extra set of eyes to look at your problem. It may be:

  • a local who knows the local records and sources because they grew up in the area and have lived there for years;
  • a native who speaks the language that you do not:
  • a professional who is familiar with the type of complicated problem you have;

    Sometimes you need a local expert familiar with all the dirt to help you dig. Riley is not a genealogical expert.  He is a digging expert.

  • a genealogical acquaintance who is generally familiar with research, willing to review your material with an open eye and an open mind, and is able to critique your work without it disrupting your friendship.

Before you have anyone help you on your problem:

  • organize what you have;
  • actually review what you have;
  • determine where you got what you have
  • compile what you have so someone else can follow it.

Here are some ways to find these people:

  • Join local-based genealogical or historical groups on Facebook;
  • inquire at the local library, county seat library, etc.;
  • ask at the county courthouse if there is anyone who does research or is familiar with the old records;
  • join a local genealogy group in your own area.


That First Encounter

When communicating with a new relative whose interest level in genealogy is not quite known, take it slowly. They:

  • might not be able to reply immediately–give them some time
  • might not be quite as interested in the family history as you–believe it or not, it is possible
  • might be put off if you share too many “black sheep” stories immediately–they might think you are only out to share the “family dirt”
  • might not want to read five rambling paragraphs in your first email–get to the point
  • might not respond if you immediately point out errors in their online tree–don’t make them feel like you are proofreading their tree
  • might not be interested in sharing details of their personal life–they may be your fifth cousin, not your “bestie.”

Your goal is to establish a line of communication and see if there’s a willingness to share/exchange information. Keep that goal in mind.

Broader FindAGrave Searches and Multiple Entries

Always broaden searches for burials on FindaGrave.

It is possible that the person in listed in the wrong cemetery, listed twice, or that you have the wrong cemetery. Even if the burial location is incorrect, there may be other information on the memorial page that stands the test of validation.

Any Lillie Will Do

Always make certain you have the right person as best you can.

My great-aunt was Lillie Trautvetter, born 1908/1909 to George Trautvetter.

There was another Lillie Trautvetter, born 1908/1909 to another George Trautvetter.

They lived for a time in adjacent townships in Hancock County, Illinois.

The Georges were first cousins. When searching quickly I almost confused the two in records where they were children as quite a few of their details were the same.

Why Is It Wrong?

Don’t “throw out” information that conflicts or appears to be in error. See if you can determine what might have caused the information to be incorrect. My great-grandmother was supposedly born in one of three towns in 1874. It turned out that each town was somewhere she had lived as a child before her family finally settled in a more permanent location.

As always, transcribe the documents exactly as they are written and include your analysis of what’s wrong in a way that makes it clear that it’s separate from the actual document.

And…remember that what you think is wrong today may end up being correct tomorrow when more information is located.

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

I Got It From A Message Board Posting

Every dead person has to have an obituary.

If you are dead, you must be in the Social Security Death Index.

They have always charged to put obituaries in every newspaper.

Delayed birth records were for out-of-wedlock births.

These are just a few examples of incorrect statements I’ve encountered online. One can find just about anything on some message boards, Facebook groups, etc. Before sharing or reposting advice you found posted by someone you don’t know, check it out.

And definitely check it out before you use it to reach any sort of research conclusion. “Brick walls” can result from following off-the-wall advice.

All Sides of the Stone

When taking pictures of tombstones, make certain to get every side of the marker. Some stones have inscriptions on more than one side and some tombstones have inscriptions for several different family members. One stone for the family was cheaper than individual stones.

Sometimes FindAGrave submitters may overlook one side of a stone.


Tips on Starting With Your AncestryDNA Matches

Some things to remember when starting to work with your DNA matches:

  • start by figuring out your closest matches first
  • keep track of who you figure out and “how you know who they are”
  • don’t try and figure out everyone at once–start with the easiest matches
  • have your paper pedigree handy and as complete as you have it
  • DNA does not replace traditional methods and sources

You can see more about working with your AncestryDNA matches in my webinars.

A Grass Widow

A “grass widow” usually refers to a woman whose husband is not deceased. She may be divorced, separated, or living alone because her husband has taken off. The phrase usually does not mean that her husband has actually died.