I’m not overly knowledgeable about cars and passed the mechanic’s detailed discussion of my vehicle issues to a friend with more smarts about vehicles than me. Did my friend get a complete and accurate description of the problem from me? Probably not. I wasn’t the best conduit for the information. The same applies to family stories that have been passed down. There could have been details that did not make complete sense to the hearer/reteller of the story and their retelling of that story may have been impacted by that lack of knowledge. Incorrect details can be unintentional on the part of the teller and may not change the essence of the story. But they can cause our research to go astray if we are unwilling to admit […]
Normally an ancestor has to be dead to have an estate settlement, has to be born to have a birth certificate, etc. Think about what really HAS to be when you research your ancestor. He didn’t have to get married to reproduce. He didn’t have to name his oldest son after his father. He didn’t have to get married near where his first child was born. He didn’t have to have a relative witness every document wrote. There are few “have tos” in genealogy. Make certain you aren’t using “have tos” to make brick walls for yourself.
We’ve moved our webinar on DNAPainter and GedMatch to 7 July 2019 at 8 PM central time. There are additional details on our announcement page. There is still time to register or pre-order a recording.
The text of a document, tombstone, etc. communicates information about a person or an event. Sometimes that information is explicitly stated, sometimes it is implied–if we interpret the document in addition to reading it. But there may be more than just words on a record. Are there other “images” on the source you are looking at that also communicate information? A funeral card, memorial card, or tombstone may have images that are symbolic and not just decorative filler. A document may also have numbers written on it that have meaning as well. Twentieth-century death certificates in the United States have numbers that indicate information about the cause of death. There may be numbers on a court paper or record that indicate a file number, docket number, etc. Or […]
Identification is important. Clarity is important. Avoiding ambiguity is important. With those things in mind, when identifying individuals on pictures, on family ephemera, in writings, etc. avoid using only the word “Grandma,” “Grandpa,” “Aunt,” etc. After all, to which Grandma Neill are you referring? Your Grandma? Your Dad’s Grandma? Your children’s Grandma? If you want to use Grandma at least use the individual’s complete name after the use of the term, Grandma Ida (Trautvetter) Neill, Grandma Connie (Ufkes) Neill, etc. Also avoid using abbreviations if at all possible, particularly ones that you’ve created yourself. Will someone else know what you meant?
It stands to reason that your direct-line relative will be married a justice of the peace or another warm body able to certify marriages in close proximity to the bridal couple at the time of the event. In these cases the genealogical clues that can be ascertained from the officiant are minimal. Determine who married all the ancestral siblings. If the family was remotely religious (and potentially listed in church records), there’s a good chance at least one of the family members took the time to have a religious ceremony. In terms of it being a clue it doesn’t matter much if it your ancestor of interest or their sibling. Unless the church member was the in-law. But then you’ll have to research to know that. Which is […]
Melinda Newman’s 1860-era estate inventory in Linn County, Iowa, indicated that she owned a galvanic battery at the time of her death. These batteries were used as a “cure” for various medical ailments. It wasn’t an old battery that she used to run her buckboard wagon when the horse wasn’t feeling up to it. And, just based on her owning the battery, it’s difficult to say exactly what ailment she suffered from–particularly because various advertisements indicated that these batteries could be used to cure a variety of ailments. I can’t use her ownership of the battery to state she had any particular illness. It’s always worth taking care to not reach conclusions that are not supported by the evidence. What I know is that she owned a galvanic […]
This is not a tip about Oklahoma or phrases that rhyme. Do you track favorite sayings of your relatives–particularly those who were a part of your immediate family? Some of them might not be quite as short as “okie-dokie” which my Mother often used. There might have been ones like: Wait til you start paying the bills. Life ain’t a bed of roses. I’m still the boss around here…I’m not dead yet. and so on. These phrases can provide some insight into the person for those who never knew them. And for those of us who did know them, occasionally seeing the phrases or being reminded of them can bring back fond memories. It’s not always about preserving memories for those who will come after us. Sometimes it’s […]
One wants to encourage relatives who have taken a new interest in their family history. One way that many people come to genealogical research now is through DNA testing. The companies that market autosomal tests lead many to conclude that the test is all you need and that the rest is automatic. Because after all those trees tied to DNA tests are correct. Autosomal DNA tests confirm relationships, but the more distant those relationships are beyond parent/child and sibling relationships, the more potential that the relationship isn’t exactly what the site predicts. Most sites indicate that the predictions are predictions, but that doesn’t stop people from believing that they are 100% correct. The “match” confirms that two test submitters are related, but other, traditional sources, will have to […]
Write it down while it’s fresh in your head. Doesn’t matter what it is, you will forget. And preserve that writing: Take a picture of it and file it. Email it to yourself. Put it in your genealogy software. Type up a word processing document. Don’t just leave it in your head…for some of us that’s asking for it to get lost–permanently.
We still have openings or pre-order your copy for download. We’ve revised our webinar on GedMatch and DNAPainter and will be offering it again on 30 June. Attend live or pre-order a copy of the presentation on our announcement page.
Family historians sometimes ask relatives questions at holiday get togethers. Here are some you might want to think twice before asking. Which cousin you cannot stand and why? What was the most disasterous family get together? Which in-law do you never want to see again? What’s the real reason Uncle Bob and Aunt Norma are never in the same room? Why did Aunt Gert spend a year in Topeka? What food do you absolutely hate at Thanksgiving? What saying of your parents can you absolutely cannot stand? What is the one thing your spouse does that drives you nuts. There has to be one more thing your spouse does that drives you nuts. Name it too. How come we always have to eat dinner at Aunt Wandas? Why […]
It can be tempting to assume that “my people won’t be in the newspaper” as they never did anything worthy of note and they “weren’t in the right class of people” to be in the paper. That can be a mistake. This rural Virginia family lost their farm to the state because their father’s will was never recorded and he was never married to their mother. They eventually had to petition the state to get the title cleared up. It’s always worth a look. Assuming they are not in the paper can be a mistake.
Ideally before you go on a genealogy research trip, you’ve made a list of the records you want to search, where they are located, etc. The reality is that many people don’t do that. One thing you don’t want to neglect to do: check the hours of the facilities you will visit, determine their access policies, see what cameras and scanners are allowed, etc. It can be a waste of time if the facility is not open when you “guessed” it would be, if records are off-site for one reason or another, or if you can only take a pencil and paper into the records area. These are things you need to know before you ever think about heading to perform on-site research a distance from your home.
I’ve been looking at a few sample images from the new book, Family Tree Historical Atlas of Germany by James Beidler and I was reminded of a few things about maps–other than their general importance in genealogical research which goes without saying: Space is limited on many printed maps and abbreviations not be standard–Helmershausen got abbreviated as Helmersh’n in this map. Not every town is listed–a few very small hamlets near Helmershausen aren’t listed Can you easily find locations “you already are aware of” on a map? It’s good to have a general idea of locations in your head to help avoid making mistakes. Don’t guess where someplace is located–look it up if you can’t remember. People always live near borders–at least mine do. Consider that some records […]
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