When research in the United States gets back beyond a certain point, records are fewer and less likely to make direct statements. It is important to remember that any conclusion reached when the records are not clear may need to be revised if new information comes to light. Keep your mind open to the chance that you may be incorrect or may have not looked at all the records. Never assume that your initial “hunch” is Gospel Truth. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here and it’s not written to help you research your “famous ancestors.” It’s written to help with all of them. Learn more about it and get your own copy.
A few reminders for the end of the month: Don’t forget to digitize photos and papers that only you have. Identify people you can in pictures–include “how” you know who they are. Back up your data. Back up your data–because that’s really important. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it.
The edges of a document can often contain clues just as significant as those in the main body of a document. Clerks may squeeze in additional text for legal reasons, pastors may squeeze in parenthetical comments about a parishioner, etc. Sometimes the edges themselves can be a clue.  Many times when documents are digitized or microfilmed, it may not be crystal clear which “front” goes with which “back.” That determination can be difficult when the documents are a variety of sizes, blank sides aren’t digitized, etc. And there are times when knowing which “front” goes with which “back” is essential to completely analyzing and interpreting the document. This relinquishment from a homestead application in Nebraska was one of those documents. Comparing the edges made it clear that I […]
A few reminders: tips are short–and not meant to be extensive, academic discussions of a topic tips are reminders–all of us forget things from time to time tips may send you looking–for more details on that topic tips may not apply in all areas and time periods–check and see if that concept applies to your research situation tips are sometimes basic–we’ve got people at a variety of levels who participate and we were all beginners at one point in time And thanks to all who participate in Genealogy Tip of the Day! It is appreciated.
Just about anything can appear on a tombstone–not just the dates of birth and death. Some immigrants had their place of birth inscribed on their tombstone and others may have included military service information. Any information on a stone should be compared to other sources, but never assume that the “stone won’t tell me anything I don’t already know.” Learn more about research, methods, and sources in Casefile Clues.
Sometimes the connection the adminstrator of an estate has to the deceased is obvious or easy to determine. Sometimes it’s not. It’s always worth finding out if there is a connection. For years, I assumed incorrectly that the administrator of the estate of Michael Trautvetter who died in Hancock County, Illinois, was a neighbor, friend, or interested creditor. I knew little about Trautvetter’s family and, after a while, gave up on determining what the relationship was. Years later, after learning more about the family it was discovered that the administrator of the estate was the husband of a daughter of Trautvetter’s sister. The sister had a marriage in Germany I was unaware of and that was the maiden name of the administrator’s wife–which meant nothing to me at the time. […]
Always pay close attention to the person who was appointed to be the administrator of the estate of a man who died with a wife and young children. If the person is not clearly a relative of the deceased individual, it very likely is a biological relative of the wife–or perhaps her second husband. And if there is a will and the wife is appointed executor, look carefully at who signed her bond. Those bondsmen were often relatives of the widow.
It can be tempting to think that if one keeps looking and tries hard enough, that there’s “got to be” a document somewhere that answers all your questions. Sometimes. But most of the time there’s not. To be certain, I’ve found a page of court testimony that outlined the family relationships and military pension affidavits that answered many of my questions. But in most situations, determining the relationships required looking over all the snippets of information I had from a variety of records, analyzing those snippets, and trying to determine what they said in the aggregate. No clue is too small. There might be that one piece of paper in a courthouse that will answer all your questions, but likely there’s not. Chances are it’s quite a few […]
Based on many requests, we’ve added this class to our schedule for September-October: AncestryDNA–5 weeks Activities/Content: Understanding what can and cannot be learned from the AncestryDNA test Strategies for “figuring out” people who do not return communication Probability of relationship based on shared DNA and relationship scenarios not presented Downloading AncestryDNA matches into an Excel spreadsheet and working with those matches and that spreadsheet Determining what matches you want to try and figure out Tracking results and findings Problem-solving Looking at the results when the grandfather was an adoptee who wasn’t the birth father of one of his children Analyzing tree for ethnic/geographic pools Sorting matches that can’t be determined specifically Keeping your list of matches up to date More details are on our announcement page.
Those whose families have lived in the United States for centuries sometimes think that their relatives will not appear on a passenger manifest.That is not necessarily true. It is possible that your ancestor traveled overseas for his work, for pleasure, or as a part of military service. My great-grandmother’s families had lived in the United States since at least the 1780s and her sister’s Red Cross service during the first World War caused her to be on a passenger manifest.
For those who find the daily updates too much, a weekly blog update is available. An electronic copy is available here–along with subscription instructions. The weekly update is only $5 a year.
The church’s funeral register indicated the first funeral at the church was in 1880. For a brief moment, I assumed that would be the first burial in the church’s cemetery as well. Not so. A physical search of the cemetery’s tombstones indicated a burial there in the mid-1870s. It could be that the cemetery was not originally associated with the church, that the church’s earlier records are missing, that the burials were conducted by a pastor from another church before the church in question was formed, or something else. But my assumption that I had the first records of the church and that there could be nothing before that was wrong. Check your assumptions before your own research gets buried by them. Learn more about research methods and […]
When using published sources and materials, copy  (or take a picture of) the index in the back of the book. It is a great way to make certain you didn’t overlook any names. A paper copy is a good place to keep track of which pages you copied. That reduces the chance a page gets overlooked. Sometimes I will take a few notes on that “index page” and make a digital image of that page to put with any digital images I actually made from the book. That way I have digital images of the pages I want and a digital image of my notes–all in the same place.
Genealogy Tip of the Day by it’s intent is short and to the point.  The brief nature of our tips means that we don’t cover everything in great depth. The intent of the tip is to make you aware of something or to remind you of something you forgot. For some tips following up elsewhere is necessary. My how-to newsletter Casefile Clues is different–it’s more detailed, more in-depth, and covers topics or records more fully. Casefile Clues brings you one or more of the following: Sources–Some weeks Casefile Clues focuses on a specific source or type of record, discussing how that source can be accessed, researched, and interpreted. Methodology–Some weeks Casefile Clues works on one of Michael’s problems. Many times these problems are “in progress,” and Casefile Clues reflects that by explaining what was researched, why it was […]
Always look at all sides of a tombstone–there may be additional details on the “back,” the “side,” or the “top” of the stone. Most stones won’t contain a reminder the way this one does. There usually isn’t anything on the bottom of a stone and digging them up to look is frowned on and occasionally dangerous. And the back of the stone does give more information about Franzen:   The Franzens are buried in what’s known locally as the “South Cemetery.” It’s actually the Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery southeast of Golden, Adams County, Illinois. Learn more about research methods and analysis in Michael’s newsletter Casefile Clues.
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