Due to the passage of time, some original records are difficult to read. Writing fades, pages get torn, mice chew on paper, etc. There may have been entries that the indexer or transcriber could only partially read. How are those entries put in the database? Where are they put in a published book? You need to know–because there’s always a chance that partial entry is for your person.
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A bequest is a gift of personal property in a will. A devise is a gift of real property in a will. Bequests and devises in wills can be made to heirs or to someone who is not an heir. An heir is someone who has statutory rights to inherit from the estate of a deceased person.  
A DNA test for genealogical purposes can result in one or more surprises. Sometimes those surprises impact more than the tester–they can impact other living family members as well. Not all surprises are about relatives who have been dead for a hundred years. You could discover that a parent or grandparent had a relationship (and a resulting child) with someone you do not know. Non-genealogists in your family may be impacted by this discovery. A “surprise” cousin could result in a similar fashion if an aunt or uncle had a child that no one knows about. Other living family members may not even know about that child. It is very possible the father may not even know the child exists. Many people find no modern “surprises” in their […]
Do you regularly look for people in their parents’ hometown newspapers? They may never have lived in the area at all, but may appear in “hometown” newspapers as visiting relatives. Great way to discover connections.
An obituary indicated that a pallbearer for a relative was Earl Trautvetter.  The other pallbearers were individuals whose names I recognized as being nephews or nephews-in-law of the deceased. Then it dawned on me–the obituary was likely referring to my uncle that I always knew as “Babe.” His real name, which I knew but occasionally put in the back of my mind, was actually Carl. Earl was likely the result of someone misreading the initial “C” in his first name as an “E” or some other sort of typographical error. An additional difficulty with this error was that the incorrect name was one that I heard differently. It didn’t sound like Carl and so it took me a little bit longer to realize what had likely happened. Sometimes […]
4 February 2018—8 PM Central This hour-long presentation will present a brief overview of what autosomal DNA results are and are not. These are the tests that are done at AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA, and 23andMe. Effective use of your results is easiest to do if pre-planning is done beforehand. This presentation will also help those who have not really delved into their results or feel they need to regroup their analytical process.  Discussion will include determining what problems your results can potentially answer, goal-setting, preparing for sifting through your results, generalized sifting strategies, locating as many ancestral descendants as possible, reasons why you have to work on the people who aren’t your problem people, and more as time allows. Order now for immediate download.
Researchers come at items in newspapers from a variety of ways: manual searches, digital images with indexes that indicate the page, digital searches that target the specific item, etc. No matter how you get to it, make certain you read the entire page the item is located in–particularly obituaries. This 1940-era obituary listed out of town relatives, but did not specify the relationship. In a separate item in the local “gossip” section, they were again named–along with their relationship to the person whose funeral they were attending. It may seem like in this case it would be “obvious” to find them, but sometimes when images come to our computer screen zoomed in from search results, it can be easy to not look at anything else. That’s a mistake. […]
I’m not certain if it was a play on words, an attempt at humor, or exactly what, but one of my great-grandfathers referred to the town of Elvaston, Illinois, as “hell fenced in.” It’s not a very big place, and I doubt if it was ever a really wild place, but I’ve made a note of it in my files. It’s never a bad thing to record things you know about your relative’s sense of humor–even if you don’t get the joke. And…the phrase may have simply resulted from the way “Elvaston” could have been pronounced by some people.
Whenever information is confusing or overwhelming, I ask myself if there is some way that I can make a chart using the information that I know. Sometimes the final chart helps to reach a conclusion or decide where to go next. Other times just thinking about the chart and the process of creating it causes me to realize that there are records or details I do not have. That sometimes gets my research going. At the very least I have a summary of the information I have. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it and get your own copy. If you’d like to get our genealogy tip daily in your email for free, add your address here.
Local (county) court records usually have indexes that are seemingly limited in their scope.  Usually there is a plaintiffs’ index and a defendants’ index and those indexes usually only index the first named plaintiff in each case and the first name defendant in each case. That’s why it is important to search for all family members in these indexes. Another key factor for the genealogist to be aware of is how many courts the county had during the time period of interest. Counties may have had more than one court–typically one court that heard equity or chancery cases and one that heard “law” cases. At the risk of oversimplifying, equity or chancery cases were those where parties could not agree amongst themselves and they were asking the court to reach […]
Indexes to wills held and created by local agencies typically only index the names of testators. Beneficiaries and others mentioned in the will are not typically included in these local record indexes. For this reason, it’s advised to search these indexes for all known family members to increase the chance of finding information.
Probate documents often indicate that someone died “on or about” a certain date. That phrasing is intentional. Usually the precise date of death is not germane to the settling of the estate and if later it turns out the actual date was a day earlier or later, the documents in the probate file are not in error. The important thing to the establishment of the probate process is that the deceased is actually deceased. 
Reading through a relative’s entire probate file, page by page and word by word, can provide you more than just the occasional relationship clue–it can also provide insight into their life. This 1862 reference indicated that the family paid the doctor bill of the deceased with two pigs and a rifle.
Sometimes there’s nothing better than getting away for nothing but research. Join me on one of two research trips in the summer of 2018. We have a great time, are focused on research, don’t have a list of “group” activities, etc. More details are on our announcement pages: Family History Library in Salt Lake City–May/June 2018 Allen County Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana–the Midwest’s premier genealogical collection–August 2018.
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