If things “don’t quite make sense,” consider that a couple’s first child might not have been both of theirs or might have been born less than the “necessary” time after their marriage. Their last child, particularly if born significantly after the couple’s other children, might have actually been their grandchild. Most of the time a couple’s children are theirs, but there are times where other possibilities could be the reality: the husband or wife had a previous marriage or relationship; the couple adopted the child of a sibling or other family member; the couple raised their grandchild; the couple took in the orphaned child of a neighbor couple; etc.
When I was a kid, my dad and I would count the cattle as they crossed the road from one pasture to another. It was important to arrive at the same correct number. The only problem was that my father tended to count out loud and his counting always got me off. Is part of the reason for your research difficulty that you are listening  to what someone else has already concluded? Are you letting their interpretations influence yours–perhaps a little too much? Sometimes it’s helpful to put away the conclusions of others and start your analysis from scratch. Then, when you’re done counting your cows separately, you can compare your conclusions with others. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it.
Final receipts and accountings in court and probate records may mention last names that married females did not have when the case was initiated. Daughters get married and widows find new husbands. Court accountings may mention these new names and explain why someone “disappears.” These references can be especially helpful in time periods and locations where marriage records are not extant. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it.
I’m working on shared DNA matches I have with DNA matches who are known descendants of my Irish ancestor John Neill (born around 1810 or so). I’m starting that work by looking at those matches that have trees. AncestryDNA, like the other sites, allows me to have notes attached for each match. For me that’s not an efficient way to keep track of my thoughts, analysis, speculation, etc. since the notes are tied to each match individually. Instead of putting my process in each match’s notes, I’ve created one Word document with the name of each DNA match in this group and what I’ve noticed about the matches, why I’ve decided certain parts of their trees are the best places to start really looking for a match, etc. […]
As a slight diversion, I decided to revisit some work I had done on my children’s Swiss immigrants to Davenport, Iowa. The only problem was that in one family there were several people in the family whose first and middle names were Christian Anton and Anton Christian. There were several different last names as the various men with the first and middle name combinations of Christian Antons and Anton Christians were sons of two men named Christian Anton and Anton Christian and their sisters. The men were all first cousins (or the two brothers) and I was constantly confusing them. So I made a quick chart with each man’s complete name, year of birth, place of birth, names of parents (if known), and other identifying information. The list […]
A 1906 newspaper reference to my uncle and his wife provides several tips or reminders in one quick note: “Joe Neal and daughter Jennie and Mrs. Harper and daughter Anna returned home last Friday after a two weeks visit with relatives in Polo, Mo.” I located the entry by manually searching for the alternate spelling of my last name. The site that hosted this image, at least at the time I used it, did not support soundex-based searches and wildcard searches required at least two letters to be used initially before a wildcard operator was used. The connection between the individuals named in the newspaper is not stated. Frustrating for the genealogist. It’s worth remembering that the individuals reading the newspaper at the time already knew those relationships. […]
Migrations can work in a variety of ways. There was a family where the parents and the children moved from Illinois to California in the 1930s during the Great Depression. I had difficulty finding one of the daughters after I had located the death information on the parents and most of their children in California. The west coast of the United States is where I kept looking for them. When I broadened my searches, I discovered that one daughter had moved back to the exact location in Illinois where the parents were from and where they were living before they moved to California in the 1930s. At this point, I’m not certain exactly why she moved back, but it’s always something to consider. Sometimes children who are “pretty […]
When you enter a date, place, or relationship into your genealogical database have a reason or a source for that date, place, or relationship. If you are working on individuals you knew personally, you can indicate personal knowledge as your reason. For other individuals use the record that made the statement, or if there is no record, indicate why you entered in the date, place or relationship that you did. As you move forward in your research you may realize that you may need a better reason that your personal knowledge or the record that was originally used. You may also reason that your reasoning was not entirely valid. It is impossible to evaluate if you don’t indicate how or where you got a piece of information.
When you think you are done with your research, ask yourself: Could this person have had one more spouse? Could this person have had one more child? Could this person have moved one more time? Could this person have had one more step-parent? and so on… Sometimes when we think we are done we are. Many times we are not. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it.
Legal terms can be confusing, but genealogists need to understand them correctly or incorrect conclusions can be made. “Mortgagor” is one of those terms. It is the borrower on a mortgage, typically the homeowner. They are the one who is actually mortgaging their title and the person signing the mortgage–hence the “or” on the word. It’s similar to a grantor on a deed–that’s the person who is signing the deed and is granting their title to someone else. The mortgagor is mortgaging their title to the mortgagee–that’s the bank, lending institution, or person loaning the money. In the early 20th century, it was not uncommon for individuals to loan money to others and the borrower would mortgage their real estate as security for the loan. There were loan […]
This 1857 ad described the Peter Oller farm as being 210 acres of property on the Augusta Road nine miles east of Warsaw with two good houses, three wells, and a good young orchard. The farm’s precise location is something that could be documented with local land records which could help me determine where the Augusta Road was located if that had not been known. It’s very possible your relative described his farm in an advertisement for its sale and such a listing may be the only place to get a description in an era before photographs, agricultural censuses, and similar records. At long last! Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. 
There were two men with this name who were grandsons of an Edward Tinsley who died in Amherst County, Virginia, in the 1780s. Sifting them out was difficult and there are some records where I am not certain which James to which they are referring. I’ve put every record that appears to be for one of them in a list with columns for how his name is entered, date of the item, location of the item etc. Then I indicate which James I think the reference is to and why. Some of them I still don’t have sorted out. I may not ever be able to determine exactly to which specific James each record each is referring. But I do have a list of every reference to a […]
Families have disagreements sometimes for reasons that are known and sometimes for reasons that have been lost to history. Do you record that “non-speaking” information in your genealogical database or notes? Do you keep track of who didn’t really get along? When my great-aunt identified her father and his siblings in a 1940-era picture, she remarked “I don’t know how that happened.” I looked at her somewhat quizzically and she continued “Dad and that brother he is seated next to didn’t speak for years, I’m surprised they are sitting together.” Maybe that’s why they all looked so stern in that picture. At long last! Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. 
I made the holiday run to several cemeteries. My footprints in the snow left evidence that someone had recently been to the grave site. This evidence, like some genealogy items, will not last forever and it is up to me to preserve genealogical evidence that I have access to or uncover. I don’t need to preserve these footprints, but they serve as a reminder that many things don’t last nearly as long as we would like them to and they won’t preserve themselves on their own. The footprints do not necessarily prove who was there–just that someone was. Always think about what a document or record supports and what it does not. Rest in Peace great-grandma and great-grandpa Neill. At long last! Genealogy Tip of the Day book […]
Always check any printed alphabetical list for additions at the end, names out of order and other irregularities. It days of manual type setting, lists of names (particularly those of post office letters) may not be as alphabetical as a person thinks. There may be omitted names that were placed at the end simply because it was easier than changing all the type. This list from Warsaw, Illinois, in 1857 separated out the German letters from the ones from elsewhere and a significant number of other letters added to the end of the alphabetical list. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it.
Get the Genealogy Tip of the Day Book
Get the More Genealogy Tip of the Day Book
Recent Comments