Even if you think divorce “never happened in ‘our’ family,” check for one anyway. It’s possible the couple divorced and no one in the family mentioned it. It is possible a divorce case was initiated and not completed. It’s possible that there was a court case for “separate maintenance” (where there’s no “divorce,” but the couple lives apart). In all three cases, the testimony and details in the court packets may be similar (particularly in terms of possibly providing a date and place of marriage). Children may or not be mentioned in these cases, particularly if they are of legal age. And it’s possible that there was no court action of any type, but the couple maintained separate households. My great aunt and uncle did that until their […]
Most of us use chronologies in our ancestral research–consider making a resume for your ancestor. List what years he worked what jobs. Census and city directories are great ways to start getting this information, but death certifiates, obituaries, estate inventories, etc. all may give occupational clues. Don’t pad your ancestral resume like you might your own. Stick to documentable facts (grin!).
The 1900 and 1910 US Census asks females the number of children they have had and how many of those children are living. These answers were not “backed up” by anything other than the respondent’s memory, but in many cases are accurate. Don’t forget to check for this information for any female relative living in the US during this time period.
If your relative was part of a “breaking local news story,” an account of the incident may have made the local newspaper. One account of an event can easily contain incorrect details, particularly if the event took place close to press time or witnesses were originally difficult to find. Obtain multiple newspaper references to the event and compare/contrast the details provided. a reference a few days later may contain more accurate information-or it may not. if the incident resulted in court action, more details may be mentioned in newspaper articles during the trial if the incident was sufficiently noteworthy, there may be retrospective articles on anniversary dates of the incident the incident may be mentioned when a key player dies years later check other nearby newspapers for mention […]
  When transcribing and analyzing the information on a tombstone, keep in mind that the stone may have been erected years or decades after the individual died. Some stones are replacement stones erected years after the person was buried. That doesn’t mean the information is wrong any more than a stone erected right after the death is correct. It’s just another piece of information to help you analyze what you do find on the stone when you compare it with other information that you have.
One source might not always be correct, but it might not always be incorrect either. Each source containing information needs to be evaluated separately based upon the original intent of the document, the likely informant, probable reliability of the specific information, etc. A statement in an 1830 probate case indicating that an heir had a child of a certain name is reasonably solid evidence of that parent-child relationship–even if there are no other available documents that make the same statement. We would still look for additional sources of this relationship, including those that provided either direct or indirect evidence, but would probably not discount it just because no other references to it could be found.  
Be open to different interpretations of phrases. Barbara Haase’s 1903 obituary indicated she came to the United States as “a young girl.” Does this mean she was a toddler, a pre-teen, or nearly twenty? The newspaper could also be wrong about the “time” of her arrival as well. I shouldn’t use this phrase to make my searches of passenger lists overly narrow. And the failure to mention her parents doesn’t tell me anything about whether they immigrated or not.
Court and probate papers often are not in chronological order when the genealogist gets them. Before analyzing the materials, put them in chronological order first. Use the dates the documents were executed for this sorting, not the dates they were filed or recorded. Sorting them will make it easier to see the flow of activity. Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank. They are offering our fans/followers/readers a subscription that is $4.67 a month (billed annually). Thanks for their support–and yours too!
Jim Beidler’s  The Family Tree Historical Newspapers Guide: How to Find Your Ancestors in Archived Newspapers arrived in my mail yesterday. While I have not had time to completely read it yet, there’s a great deal of good advice in the book, including a quote from Genealogy Tip of the Day about “near” relatives. The book contains search techniques for several sites, including: GenealogyBank–fee-based Newspapers.com—fee-based  Ancestry.com—fee based Library of Congress–free and other free sites. There are lots of great anecdotes and research stories in the book as well. Hopefully it will give me some motivation to revisit some incomplete newspaper work on some of my own families.  
This 3-part PDF document from the US Census Bureau contains blanks census forms and enumerator instructions from the 1790 through the 2000 census. introduction 1790-1990 2000   Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank. They are offering our fans/followers/readers a subscription that is $4.67 a month (billed annually). Thanks for their support–and yours too!  
Administrators are usually appointed when the person whose estate is being settled left no valid will. Sometimes the executor appointed will choose not to act or be unable to act. Sometimes the will will not name an executor. In those cases, the court may appoint an administrator “with the will annexed” indicating the person technically is an administrator, but that they will settle the estate according to the terms of the will. Normal administrators (without a will annexed) will settle the estate and make disbursements according to contemporary state statute.
When using probate records, make certain you have the entire file–especially final accountings and disbursements. Probates that took decades to settle may list “new heirs” if original heirs died before the estate was closed. This may include some grandchildren and other more distant heirs besides children who may have originally been listed. Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank. They are offering our fans/followers/readers a subscription that is $4.67 a month (billed annually). Thanks for their support–and yours too!
The newest and latest is not always the best. It also may not be the most accurate. A set of tombstone transcriptions done in the 1930s may be more reliable in some cases than those done more recently. More stones may have been extant and inscriptions may have been more legible. Even a set of transcriptions done in the 1980s may be preferable to ones done more recently. And if the first transcriber was more attentive to detail that helps as well. A more modern transcription may have been done using pictures of tombstones that were enhanced digitally. It’s hard to make a snap decision and immediately say which transcription is best or most accurate. The same is true for handwritten records as well. A transcription done in […]
Download images of genealogical records as you find them. Do not assume that they will always be there or that you will always have access. you may decide to cancel your subscription to that site the site may use the ability to host the images the image may get moved to where you can’t find it you may forget how you got it in the first place Once you download it, you have it. Back it up. File it in a way that you can find it again. Make certain the file name describes the image.
  Join me for three days of research at the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, this coming August. Details are on our announcement page.
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