I wish I had transcribed these stones when I was actually in the cemetery taking the pictures. I took dozens of pictures in cemetery run in May of 2016. Most of the stones were legible and reading them was not an issue. This is one that was difficult to read. I wish I had made a transcription of the stone while I was at the cemetery. Not for every stone, but for those that were difficult to read. Sometimes pictures of stones are easier to read. Occasionally they are not. I could have easily handwritten a transcription on a piece of paper and taken a picture of that transcription so I had an image of it along with the picture of the stone. Next time I’ll transcribe any stone […]
I’ve seen hundreds of these affidavits in US homestead records. This is one of time when there was a clue. It indicated the homesteader on this 1888 document was a widower. That’s a clue. The homestead records don’t indicate that he married her a few years earlier in Illinois and that she and an infant child died shortly over a year later. I’m a big fan of looking at and actually reading everything. Clues can be anywhere and sometimes something that someone else will not think is a clue will be a clue to you–it all depends upon what is already known. Genealogy Tip of the Day is sponsored by GenealogyBank. Check out their current offer for new subscribers.
Relatives will not tell you everything. Face this and accept it. Generally there are two main reasons that people don’t tell you something: they really didn’t know about it they hope you don’t find out about it There are a variety of reasons people tell you things that are incorrect, but generally those fall into two broad categories: they were told something incorrect they hope a wrong story will lead you astray so that you don’t find discover something Try and avoid ruining a relationship with a living family member just “to get an answer.” My one grandmother told me she never knew her uncle committed suicide. She also told me a man who I thought was her mother’s first cousin was not related to her mother. It […]
While it can be difficult to start a research problem completely from scratch, give it a try. Sometimes we get “something in our head” for which we have no evidence, transcribe a document erroneously, interpret something incorrectly, or a make a leap of faith not supported by facts or physics. When my math students are “stuck” and can’t figure out where they went wrong, one approach is to have them rework the problem from scratch and compare both sets of work to see the difference. Sometimes genealogists need to do that too. Genealogy Tip of the Day is sponsored by GenealogyBank. Check out their current offer for subscribers.
The funeral home in my hometown recently had a death notice for someone whose last name suggested they might be a relative. They weren’t but two of their father’s siblings had married first cousins of my great-grandmother. I would have saved an inordinate amount of time if I had sketched out a chart to use while trying to determine the relationships. Without a chart, I kept getting confused and went in circles–especially as several names were repeated through different generations of the family. Having the approximate years of birth along with an outline of the relationships would have helped immensely. Failing to do so wasted more time than it saved. Genealogy Tip of the Day is sponsored by GenealogyBank. Check out their current offer for subscribers.
I was stuck on a certain relative who apparently left the area where she grew up sometime after she was enumerated in the 1910 census in Hancock County, Illinois. She seemed to evaporate and appears in no later records. In 1915, in the church she attended as a child, she and her husband have two of their children baptized. The baptism records list the maiden name of the mother. While I’m not yet 100% certain it is her, it’s a very good lead. One child has her maiden name as it’s middle name and the other child has her mother’s maiden name as it’s middle name–another good clue. Did you relatives bring the kids “back home” to be baptized?
When an index or manual searching takes you to an ancestral entry in a census, tax or other list entry take times to look at the neighboring names. Are the names in rough alphabetical order? If so neighborhood clues can’t be inferred from the proximity of names. That is unless all the “B” surnames lived in the same part of the county.
There are no answers in the back to check your genealogy work. Your genealogy research is not a homework assignment where you can check the answers or someone can check your work for you. In some families you may be the first person ever attempting the homework. And in other cases you may have other people in your “class” (ie, family) who aren’t as concerned about as being accurate as you are. That’s why you constantly want to make certain that your conclusions make sense and are reasonable, you track where you find things (even if you citations aren’t “prefect”), track why you concluded what you did, and keep a list of sources that you’ve used. And while there are no guarantees in genealogy, doing those things will […]
When searching an online database or index for a specific person, chances are you have entered some of these key pieces of information about that person in order to search: age name place of birth residence name of spouse year of arrival year of death Those key elements about a person are also useful when trying to determine if you have the “right” person in a record. But what if one of those key elements was wrong? Either you have it wrong or it’s wrong in the record. Either way it will not match. And…a good research approach in general is to ask yourself: If one thing that I think is true about my ancestor was not true–how would that change how I look for her?  
Sometimes researchers wonder why they should get something when “it’s only going to tell me what I already know.” That’s a valid concern, but there are times when that record that “repeats” what other records say can be helpful, such as: the first record has a questionable informant the first record really doesn’t make sense the first record is difficult to read the first record is one that may be inaccurate And there is always the chance that the “record that tells what you already know” has information that you’ve not located elsewhere. You don’t know until you look.
DNA should not be the only tool in your genealogical research toolbox. Family stories, records at home, published books, official records, etc. should be used together with DNA. The best way to answer research questions and get a complete picture of your ancestral family is to use as many resources as possible.  While DNA “doesn’t lie” it is often not as specific as we would like. While paper records can contain outright lies or partial truths,  they can provide details DNA does not. They can help you make sense of your DNA results–at least sometimes. And even if you’ve researched paper records for years, don’t expect DNA to immediately solve all those problems you have. Sometimes it will specifically answer a question and other times it will simply tell you […]
Having trouble finding that 100 year old cemetery? If it is in a town/city that published city directories, see if the directory had a list of cemeteries. Might be that a directory has an “old name” for a cemetery that’s not in modern materials, a location that’s not showing up in current directories, etc.
Ever wonder how fast the mail was one hundred years ago? There was a slight clue in an old US Civil War pension file: Letter dated 3 May 1907, Washington, DC–sent to West Point, Illinois. Response to letter is dated 7 May 1907, West Point, Illinois. Response received 9 May 1907, Washington DC. The letter was a request for information in a pension file. There’s no guarantee of when anything was mailed and a date could easily be off, but the timeline was tighter than I thought it might be for 1907. Just something to think about. Are there clues about the speed of mail in an old record you have?
The dates have been set for my 2018 group trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. The dates of the trip are 30 May through 6 June. More details are on our announcement page.
There’s nothing like a newspaper article that mentions three women without including any of their first names. Typical for the era, it serves to remind us that when searching digital images of newspapers one needs to remember that people may be mentioned without ever being named with their own name. And as an aside, Mrs. Cecil Barnett (actually Luella) and Mrs. Cecil Neil[l] (actually Ida) were the daughters of Mrs. William Miller (actually another Ida)–but their maiden name was not Miller. It was Trautvetter. William Miller was her second husband after Trautvetter died. Another reminder to be careful about making assumptions. This was a nice little find for me. I had heard Virginia mention staying with my Grandma (the Mrs. Cecil Neill) for extended visits when she was […]
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