Divorce May Not Be the End

Some married couples never see their former spouse after a divorce. Many times that is because one partner leaves and never returns. There are other possibilities. Some former spouses may continue to reside in the same area and interact with each other, especially if they have children. One divorced couple in my family appear on a mortgage with a son-in-law after their divorce. Other times couples eventually remarry, even after they’ve had subsequent spouses. Or they may even later live together, even if they don’t remarry.

Those aren’t made up examples—just situations from my own family where I’ve removed the names.

A Lost Mockingbird

Shopkeepers or businessmen were not the only people who appeared in the classified ad section of a newspaper.

John Tucking lost his mockingbird in 1866 and advertised for its return in the Daily Illinois State Journal.

Don’t gloss over those search results from the classifieds. They may contain a little plumage you can add to your ancestor.

Include Your Reasoning in Your Notes

If you are fortunate to find more than one source that provides information about an ancestral event, remember to cite each of them separately and indicate what they actually say. The records will not all agree, you’ll have to decide which (if any) of them you are going to give the most credence to. Making that date or place the “preferred” one, doesn’t mean that the others are removed from your genealogical database–you do want to remember that you did find those other sources and what they said.

But in your notes indicate why you made that date or place the preferred one. What about that source or piece of information made you think it was the most reliable?

About Genealogy Tip of the Day

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

For more in-depth discussion consider my Rootdig blog. 

And thanks to all who participate in Genealogy Tip of the Day! It is appreciated.

Is It That Specific?

A death certificate indicates that a relative was born Rush County, Indiana, on 23 December 1846.

The tombstone indicates that the relative was born on 25 December 1846.

The 1850 census indicates that the same relative was a native of Indiana and was three years of old at the time of the enumeration. That means that the person was born in either sometime in 1846 or 1847. It’s not additional evidence that the person was born specifically on 23 December 1846. It is consistent with that date of birth (which is good), but the census does not indicate that precise date of birth.

Use the death certificate as the source for the 23 December 1846 birth in Indiana.

Use the tombstone as  the source for the 25 December 1846 birth. Don’t use the tombstone for as a source of the Indiana place of birth since the stone does not provide a place of birth.

Use the census as the source for a 1846-1847 birth in Indiana.

Choose which date you believe to be more reliable and make that your “preferred” date of birth for the person in question. In your notes indicate why you believe that date/place to be the most accurate.

Avoid indicating sources say things that they do not. It will reduce confusion later–especially if other records disagree.

Head Back East Young Lady

People move–sometimes further than one really expects. Emma Cawiezell was a native of Davenport, Iowa, who went to New York City to become an actress around 1892.

She died there a year later. There were no family stories about her travelling to New York City and it took me a while to find her.

People sometimes leave their comfort zone searching a new career, a new life, or greener pastures?

Is it possible that your relative “up and moved” in some atypical fashion? Most of the Cawiezells were farmers in rural Scott County, Iowa.

I never dreamed one of them ended up in New York.

Fast, Easy Cheesy Citations

After learning the hard way, I always copy the “wrapper” on any legal document of which I make copies. In addition to usually indicating what the document actually is, there will be a filing date and other details of the case.

Making a copy or taking a picture means I don’t have to write all that information down.

But I do need to capture it so that I can later cite the records used.

It’s fast. It’s easy and gets the job done when you’re researching on site and time is of the essence.

Learn more about citations in   Evidence Explained or subscribe to Casefile Clues to learn more about record analysis, documentation, and interpretation.

Do You Know One Pitfall?

Every database, index, finding aid, etc. has one “pitfall.” There may be a small portion of records that are missing. There may be a location whose name is spelled wrong in the database. The search screen may not work quite like other search screens you use. Every name listed on every record may not be in the index.

Being aware of pitfalls does not mean you are focusing on the negative. It means you are aware of the limitations of the finding aid.

And that makes you better able to use it appropriately.

Do You Know the Typicals?

For every location in which you are actively researching, do you know when civil vital records start?Do you know what information is likely contained in those records during various time periods? Do you know how to locate court, land, probate, and other local records during the period of interest? Do you know when directories, county histories, and local histories were published? And if you are aware of the typical records and what they typically contain do you always look outside the box for sources that are easy to overlook or difficult to research or understand.

Don’t limit yourself to the typical. There may be more.