What Are You Seeing?

The “problem” with using certain websites, search engines, etc. is that one can locate images or content and not be certain what they are seeing.

A good way to solve that problem…

ask someone for help.

Not really knowing what you are looking at is a good way to not understand it. The illustration used in this post is an index card to naturalizations created by the US government to help people find their naturalization record when they had lost it and weren’t really certain where they were naturalized (among other reasons). It’s not the naturalization record and is not the same thing as the naturalization record.

Ask fellow genealogists if you stumble on something and do not know what it is. There are groups on Facebook where one can post a variety of items and get help. Don’t assume what something is if you’ve never seen it before.

These records are discussed in more detail in a post on my Rootdig blog.

Check Those Headlines–Anything Can Be Incorrect

Headlines aren’t always right–large print doesn’t mean correct print.

Always transcribe newspaper articles as they are written and cite them accurately when using them. But remember that details can be incorrect and typographical errors were easier to make in the days before spell check and computerization.

This headline mixed up the dead man and his brother. The headline in the illustration mixed up the man who died with the brother who survived him. 

The Road in Front of Grandma’s House?

Could an old road atlas give you a little insight into your ancestor’s life?
Most of my forebears lived in rural areas where paved roads were not common until the 20th century was well on its way to being over. My one grandmother was the exception–her family’s farm was located on the highway running east of Carthage, Illinois. This 1924 Illinois state road map indicated that there was a section of that highway (route 136 today) that was not paved. While the map is not precise enough to where determine where her family’s house was at it’s possible that they lived along that little section that was unpaved in 1924.

Don’t Just Scratch the Surface

While viewing a newspaper account of a relative’s accidental death in 1906, I noticed a reference to a woman’s murder in an adjacent county. She was shot by her husband. Somewhat curious, I decided to do a little “quick” online research into the woman and her husband.

She was mentioned in quite a few online trees, but none referenced her short marriage to her husband or the circumstances of her death.

It was easy to see in this case why nothing else had been located:

  • The woman was born after 1880 and in 1900 was living with her parents.
  • By 1910 she was dead.
  • Her tombstone does not mention her husband’s name–just the names of her parents.
  • The marriage records for the county where she likely married are not online and not microfilmed.
  • The court records for the county where the case was held are not online in digital format. They have not been microfilmed.
  • Most of the references to her murder refer to her by her husband’s name–using “Mrs.” almost consistently.

Another reminder of the importance of getting beyond what is easy to find and not relying on the online trees.

It is easy to understand in this case why her married name was not put on her tombstone (she’s buried with her parents) and why the family may not have mentioned her marriage and her husband.

Looking for Work?

Did your relative advertise for a job? A classified ad where your relative is looking for work could be a clue. It just depends on what you already know and what you don’t. This early 20th century advertisement indicated Mr. Dreisbach was in Illinois in July of 1911. How long he stayed is not addressed by the ad, but at least he was there for a time.

AncestryDNA is on sale for $59 through “Cyber Monday (sale ends the 27th of November).

My Blogs and Subscribing/Unsubscribing

I maintain the following genealogy blogs:

  • Rootdig.comMichael’s thoughts, research problems, suggestions, and whatever else crosses his desk
  • Genealogy Tip of the Dayone genealogy research tip every day–short and to the point
  • Genealogy Search Tipwebsites 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.

AncestryDNA is on sale for $59 through “Cyber Monday (sale ends the 27th of November)–some thoughts before you buy.

Reversed Census Names?

Did the census taker reverse the first and last names? It can happen with anyone, but the possibility increases if the individual’s name is in a foreign language and they are a recently arrived immigrant. This man’s name was Focke Meyer, but he was listed as last name Focke and first name Myer.

AncestryDNA is on sale for $59 through “Cyber Monday (sale ends the 27th of November).

How Much Local Geography Do You Know?

Are you aware of the local geography where your ancestor lived? Having access to maps is a great help, but having a certain amount of information “in your head” can save time.

For your city ancestors do you know the “name of the neighborhood” (if there was one)? Do you know names of nearby neighborhoods and towns? How close did your family live to the line that divided one city from another?

For rural ancestors the same thing applies? What were the names of adjacent townships? How close were they to the county line? Did they live in a part of the county that had a nickname (perhaps based upon where most residents were originally from)?

Failing to know some local geography may cause you to look in the wrong place for your relative.