An announcement about digital images of German baptismal certificates at the Newberry Library in Chicago flew across my screen and I immediately decided to search them. Looking at the catalog entry first is advised–the vast majority of these items are apparently from Pennsylvania–according to their catalog entry. Always know what you are searching–don’t assume the collection contains material that it does not. Just because this collection is housed in Chicago, Illinois, does not mean that it contains only Illinois materials–or any Illinois materials.
For years I did not realize a relative who died in her early twenties had married. The only reference I had to her was in her grandfather’s estate settlement where she’s mentioned as having predeceased him. She did marry and was married at her grandfather’s death. She had married a man whose last name was the same as her maiden name–so her last name never changed and the “name change” clue one would expect to have was not there.  
Custom create your own maps to help you visualize how close (or not) your ancestral villages are. This one was helpful for me in analyzing my DNA results. Each name is an ancestor with ancestry from the village listed before their name. Having all the places on the same map made visualization easier. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it. If you’d like to get our genealogy tip daily in your email for free, add your address here.
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. Thanks to our sponsor, GenealogyBank. for their continued support.
Avoid setting your search at any site to “match exactly.” Names get spelled incorrectly, places of birth are incorrect, ages are off, etc. There There are times where exact matches will get you what you want, but many times it can limit your search to the point where the desired item is not returned. This is especially true for any name that is in a foreign language or the informant does not speak the local language. 
Is it possible that the last name you think you have for a person is really a truncated version of the actual name? Could the last half of the name have been “cut off” to avoid sounding a little too ethnic? Could your VanDerWalle relative used the last name of Wall(e) instead?
Don’t assume that online site will “always be there” and you can always go and get what you need. Make a copy of that image for yourself while you have it on your screen. Save the information while you have access to it. Websites go down. Fee-based websites sometimes lose the ability to include certain items in their subscription. Websites change how things are organized and what you could find a month ago is impossible to find. Your cousin could remove their online tree from that hosting site. You may find yourself unable to continue to pay for that monthly subscription to that database site that includes images. Save it while you can. Name it in a way that makes sense. Save it where you can find it. […]
“Late in life” marriages can be a good source of additional information on a relative, particularly during a time period when marriage records provide more information that just a name. However, in cultures where women take the last name of their husband, these marriages can cause a woman to disappear. Always consider that the reason a female cannot be found is that she might have married again and changed her last name. Or she may have moved a distance to live with a child. Or both.
A Civil War pension indicated the soldier was born in Duncansville, Kentucky.  As I suspected it was not on a modern map. There are several ways to locate a place name that no longer exists–one way is to search for it on GoogleBooks where old books have been digitized are full-text searchable. An 1889 reference to the change in the Mercer-Washington County Kentucky line mentioned Duncansville. That gave me a clue as to it’s location.
When using the Bureau of Land Management’s website to search for and locate land patents, always look at the actual patent. Depending upon the situation, it may tell you: the unit the veteran served in if the patent (first deed) was issued based upon a military warrant if the land claim was actually a pre-emption claim instead of a cash sale–pre-emption claims are better records if the heirs were involved–those are generally more detailed files as well where the patentee was living at the time–that can help in distinguishing between individuals of the same name  
Some general things to remember about naturalizations in the United States: Before 1906 reform, any US court of record could naturalize. Declarations of Intention may give more personal detail. Minor naturalizations may be filed separately. Homesteaders had to document their naturalization. People give incorrect dates of naturalization in census records. These are generalizations and broad reminders. The naturalization process changed over time, but should be relatively consistent from state to state as it stems from federal law. The amount of detail can vary from one location to another and over time. This short tip is not meant to replace learning more detailed information about naturalizations and the naturalization process.
When I was a small and fell and got hurt or there was something that I needed to tell my mother, she would often ask me “what hamp?” That’s a good question to ask about our ancestors as well–although we may end up knowing less about the situation than my mother did after she heard my explanation. My great-grandfather lost two farms to foreclosures between 1898 and 1910. For the next fifteen or so years he and the family moved from one rental farm to another. Then in the mid-1920s he “settled” and purchased a farm that remains in the family until this day. I did not give it much thought until I looked through the estate settlement for his father who died in 1916. It took over […]
I was writing a blog post about a relative and was certain he was never listed with his actual given name of James in any record. I was wrong. He was listed as James in a handful of early records–just not ones after he became an adult. It’s not just memory that can be wrong. Double check those assumptions you have about history before you post or share them as well–ask yourself “how do I know that? “Do some research and find out. Sometimes when I do that I realize that I am right. Sometimes I realize I am wrong. But I usually learn something and my research is better for it.
Depending upon which genealogist you ask there are either brick walls or there are not. Sometimes you get to a “stuck place” in your research and what it’s called doesn’t really matter. There are several ways to try and get around those places, including: making certain you have looked at all records making certain you are aware of all records created in the location of interest looking at how someone solved a similar problem thinking about whether your assumptions are valid writing up your problem for someone else to read making certain you are not relying on someone else’s conclusions making certain that what you think you know is actually correct. etc. There are other approaches, but starting with this list is a good place to begin. And…it […]
Bondsmen (sometimes called securities) on an administrator’s bond are not saying they are paying the bills of the estate. They are saying that they are vouching for the administrator and that if the administrator runs off, doesn’t pay the bills, etc. that they are “good for it” and have the funds to pay the bills–and the court will enforce the bond if necessary. If the administrator does his job, the bondsmen have no need to worry. Consequently the bondsmen are people who knew the administrator and trusted him to “do right” by the estate. 
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