A relative deserted his Union infantry unit in the US Civil War. He petitioned his desertion charge approximately fifteen years later and his petition was denied. In reviewing adjutant general records, I discovered that there were three other men who were listed as deserting on the same day as my relative. So I requested the compiled military service records of these fellow deserters of my relative in addition to any information that may have been in their record regarding an appeal of the desertion charge–just in case there was a mention of the group as a whole. Another relative was involved in a crime on the Mississippi River in the 1780s. Several of his compatriots were named as well. Further research on them indicated one was his brother-in-law […]
Genealogists need to have a working knowledge of major historical events in the geographic and political areas in which their relatives lived and should not be afraid to look up dates if they can’t remember them. It’s fine if your memory of dates falters–just use a reference to keep yourself straight. Regional or local events are just as important to your research and may have actually had more immediate impact on your ancestor. There was a mine in upstate New York State that had labor unrest in the 1880s and 1890s. That matters if my relative worked in the mine. Another county where relatives lived built a new courthouse around the turn of the 20th century. An uncle was strongly opposed based upon newspaper accounts. It took some […]
Even if your relative did not change denominations, consider the possibility that they attended several different churches. A relative’s second wife attended three different Lutheran churches in the city of Chicago over a fifteen year period. The records of each church were helpful in locating more information on her as the membership rosters provided different details each time. The churches may have been different branches of Lutheranism at the time but that is no longer the case. It could be the family moved for a short time and one church was closer. It could be that a relative attended one of the other churches for a time. It could also be that she had a falling out with the members of the Ladies’ Aid or the pastor as […]
Remember when reading any foreign language material that is handwritten, that not only are the words in a different language–the script may not be what you are used to either. What appears to be an English “L” could be a different letter entirely. Those who are challenged with German handwriting may find Tips and Tricks of Deciphering German Handwriting: A Translator’s Tricks of the Trade for Transcribing German Genealogy Documents by Katherine Schober helpful.
Genealogy is like house dusting. When you think you’ve got it done, it seems like there is more or something that you missed. Or a new spot of dust appears and it’s just begging to be wiped away (or researched to stretch the metaphor). If completing the 5-generation genealogy book of your ancestor’s descendants is too much, start smaller. Work on just the grandchildren of the couple and try and document those individuals. If that project seems too large, work on writing up the ancestral couple as much as you can. Write up what you have. Cite your documents or sources as you go. Try and research the couple as much as you can, but writing (even if just for yourself) can cause you to notice gaps or […]
There are a couple of quick lessons from this 1941 high school year book picture of my aunt sitting at her classroom desk at Gridley High School in Gridley, Illinois. Yearbooks are not just for students. Teachers, administrators, and other staff members may have their pictures or other information included in them. OCR reading of text may not interpret names correctly. In this case, the automatic reading of the text thought her last name was “Habben-Homemaking.” It was just Habben. We could add “keep your desk clean” as another tip, but for many of us that’s a lost cause. There’s still time to join me in my upcoming webinar on using GedMatch.com and DNAPainter. Join us!
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