“Grandma worked out as a young girl and when they bought their farm in the late 1930s it was on the ‘hard road.’ ” Explain terms in your notes that may not be clear to someone else later. Grandma was not going to the gym when she “worked out” and most farms in the 1930s where they lived were not on paved roads–it was a big deal at the time. She called it the “slab” too. Grandma babysat me when I was small and she’d warn me not to go out near the “slab.” My children had no idea what I meant. It was the state highway that ran in front of Grandma’s house. Always make certain your terminology is clear and make certain that you understand terms […]
Aside from names that are spelled wrong, first names that are omitted, and names that are flat-out wrong, there are at least two other big reasons you may have difficulty finding a newspaper entry for your relative simply by querying a database: the database of newspapers may be incomplete and the original images are virtually impossible for OCR (optical character recognition) to recognize. Browse the images to determine if there are gaps in the newspapers online at the site and look at some images from the time period in question to determine how legible. Some digital images of newspapers were made in the early days of microfilming and may be difficult for the computer to interpret. You may have to read them manually and search them that way […]
James Chiaro is referenced twice in this estate document from Cook County, Illinois. In the initial mention of his name, he is simply James. In the second reference, buried in text that sometimes gets overlooked, was the name of his alias. Had it not been read, it would not have been noticed. This document was indexed at Ancestry.com and the index only lists James. It does not list the alias of Vinenzio which is also given for him.
Depending upon the location and the time period, an individual’s probate file may have a “proof of death” statement or affidavit. The court wanted to know that the person whose estate was being probated was actually deceased. In other places there may be no such record and the best estimate of date of death is simply before the first date the individual is listed as “deceased” in the records.
It took me forever to “realize” where the nickname probably came from. Some family members referred to my Aunt Luella as “Law.” I had known her by those names for so long that I never questioned it and never wondered where it came from. I just took as it was. Until today. I was saying the name to myself for some reason or another and it dawned on me that the originator of the “Law” name probably said “Luella” in such a way that “law” was a part of it. I never heard it pronounced that way and didn’t say it that way myself. Of course the reason I never heard anyone say “Lawella” or “Lawellaw” is because those people never said her full name. They called her […]
We are excited to offer this new class on using US census records. Virtually every US genealogist uses census records, but not everyone is aware of how those records can be maximized for what they do contain. There are limitations to these records, but there are advantages to them as well. If you’ve wondered if you are getting the most out of US census records, this class is for you. Content: This three-week session will look at US census records from 1850 through 1940. Topics discussed will include: enumerator instructions and how information “got in the census” organization of original records working with family structure in 1850-1870 records correlating a family’s census records over time evaluating accuracy of census records determining other records suggested by a family’s enumerations […]
Do not assume that a reference to your relative as a “foreigner” means that they were from a different country. There are times and some records (eg. some town records in New England) where a reference to someone as a foreigner may simply indicate that they are from a different town or state. My uncle’s will was probated in Indiana in the 1980s and was needed to settle some property in Illinois where it was mentioned as a “foreign will.”
Death records, probates, and obituaries are not the only place where your relative’s name could appear after their death. There are a variety of records and materials that could contain a reference to your ancestor–even if that ancestor was deceased. Barbara Haase had been dead for several years and her name was still appearing on tax rolls because her estate had not been settled. Newspapers may mention your relative’s name after their death for a variety of reasons. The estate of your dead relative could have been sued as well. Your ancestor stops breathing when they die. References to them may continue for some time in certain records.
Legal documents are usually created in response to some event. Often that event is not stated in the document–try and determine what it is. Legal documents use words that may be used on “common conversation” with a slightly different meaning. Make certain you are interpreting words in the legal sense not in the everyday language sense. Legal documents are created in the context of contemporary law and contemporary legal practice. Try and determine what those are. What sufficed in 1719 might not be what suffices in 2019.
Sound genealogy methodology indicates that witnesses on documents should always be researched for a potential connection to the person for whom they are witnessing a document. That’s good advice. Just remember that not every witness had a connection to the person who actually was signing the document. Samuel Neill became a citizen in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1880. A quick search of the 1880 census indicated that the witness on his naturalization was the county collector who apparently had no connection to Neill other than he was in the courthouse on the day Neill naturalized. Sometimes witnesses are simply other adults of legal age who were in the vicinity of your ancestor.
Researchers who encounter two different years of birth for a relative in records that only provide an age may wonder which is “correct.” The reality is that neither may be right. Both ages could be off and the actual year of birth could be in between the two that are suggested by the available records. Don’t just “average” them and call it a day. Include each year of birth in your records as an alternate date and cite the source from which it was taken. There may be no other sources for the date of birth and it may be impossible to tell which of the two records is most likely to be accurate. Of course one should look for other records as much as possible, but sometimes […]
Querying databases is great, but there’s one thing about them that sometimes is frustrating–you can’t see all the names in the database. Years ago I used the Germans to America series of immigration books to search for various immigrant ancestors. Today the same material can be searched online at a variety of sites. One of the things I liked about the books was that I could browse all the names in the index. While I realize that one can perform Soundex and wildcard searches, sometimes it was helpful to just look at all the names that started with a certain letter and see if it fit. Sometimes you can’t do that with database queries because they are not set up to allow you to see all the last […]
A relative (we’ll call them “A”) may be reticent about certain aspects of their family history and not at all responsive to gentle or not-so-gentle attempts to ask certain questions. Other relatives may refuse to answer the same questions or indicate that they “know nothing.” After A dies, others in the family may be willing to offer up details. A short time after a relative of mine passed, others in the family willingly shared stories about the family history I had never heard before–ever. It may be worth your time to revisit family members after another family member has passed. Wait a respectful amount of time to do it, but sometimes the informational floodgates open after one member of the family dies.
Carl Sandburg College’s Corporate and Leisure College will be hosting an all-day ” Beginning with Your Ancestry DNA Matches” with Michael John Neill on Saturday 19 October 2019 on the college’s main campus in Galesburg, Illinois (2400 Tom L. Wilson Blvd.). The sessions will run from 9:00 am until 3:30 pm. This day-long session will discuss preparing for your Ancestry DNA test results, what matches mean and do not mean, why not every “blood relative” is a DNA match, strategies for sorting your matches, determining how matches are related (where possible), analyzing “shared matches,” determining connections of those who do not respond, and why you should try and figure out all your matches even if they aren’t on the family you really took the test to learn more […]
Google and other internet searches can be great ways to find other relatives online, items that have been transcribed, pictures that have been posted publicly, blog posts about your family, message board posts about your relatives, repositories that may contain information, etc. Of course all of that information should be evaluated for reliability, perceived accuracy, etc. Sometimes internet searches only find information that’s been shared and passed around over and over. But there’s one thing that it won’t find. Items that have not been put online, have not been digitally indexed, and are only available in paper format. Like the Revolutionary War pension payment record for a relative that documented her origins in the British Isles–when many postings about her online repeated speculation that she was a Native […]
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