Indexed Under “Heirs of?”

When searching courthouse land records, documents may not necessarily be indexed under a person’s name. This 19th century deed in Illinois was from the heirs of Alpha Forsyth. As a result, it was indexed in the “H” section because, after all, “heirs” does begin with an “h.”

If you are looking for a deed drawn up by the family after the surviving parent dies, it might be worth your time to search not just for all their heirs individually under their own names (although deeds are usually indexed under the name of the first one listed), but also under the word “heir.”

Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it.

Write it Up!

When I was small I could not pronounce my mother’s maiden name. As a result for years, I referred to her parents as “Granddad and Grandma Up.” We referred to them as that long after I was able to pronounce “Ufkes” correctly. Yesterday, when mentioning my grandparents, I referred to them with that last name.

I had not done that in years.

Shortly after I did it, I realized that it’s one of those little things that is not written anywhere in my research notes on my grandparents. It’s a trivial little thing, but one which makes me remember my grandparents fondly during that time when I was small.

What do you not have written down that only exists in your memory?

What nicknames or diminutives do you know of that originated because someone was unable to say a name correctly?

Genealogy Tip of the Day Book

It’s available!

Genealogy can be confusing and sometimes what the family historian needs is something short and to-the-point that can help them get their research back on track. That’s the intent of “Genealogy Tip of the Day.”

Long-time genealogist Michael John Neill uses his thirty years of research experience to remind readers of things they had forgotten, make them aware of things they did not know, and encourage them to increase their research and analytical skills. This is not a typical how-to book that has a chapter for each content topic. Topics are spread throughout the book. Tips are based on actual research, actual families, and actual problems. Each day’s tip is meant to be a relatively short read, is engaging, accurate, and occasionally funny.

Tip of the Day can be read front-to-back or browsed through at the reader’s whim. Tips are about genealogical sources, pitfalls, and procedures based on Michael’s extensive experience researching ancestors in the United States and abroad. Tips are practical, easy-to-understand, and applicable to those with ancestors in a variety of locations. Tips have been edited for clarity and updated when necessary. Any content that was time-sensitive has been removed. What’s left is research advice and suggestions with some humor thrown in.

Table of Contents:

  • How Grandma Said it, Pond Crossing, Lying, and More
  • Grains of Truth, Reversed Names, and Date Fudging
  • Links, Cutting off, Soundex, Perspective, and Infants
  • Contemporary, “Paper or Plastic,” and Eternal Neighbors
  • Undoing, Discrepancies, Math, and Avoiding Court
  • Reused Names, Absolute Relationships, Leave the 21st Century
  • Nicknames, Endogamy, Census Bridges, and Vacuums
  • Popularity, Wrong Grandmas, New Wife
  • Portable Ancestors, First Purchases, and Cousin Ken
  • Dead Reasons, Getting and Giving, Just Me, and Death Names
  • 100%, Errors, Rushing Structure, and Homemade Abbreviations
  • Spousal Origins, Patronyms, and Death Causes
  • Validation, Copyright, Life Estates
  • Merging Saints, Circle Searching, Flukes, and Running Home
  • Self-Checking, Boarders, Farmed Out, and Widow Power
  • All I Need Is Love, Crossing a Line, and Joseph Conversions
  • Leaving Family, Dead Proofing, One Little Entry

Genealogy Tip of the Day can help fill in those gaps in your genealogical skill set without being overly academic or tedious. This book contains tips from 2009-2011 edited. Genealogy news, information on websites, marketing announcements, and items that were “dated,” have been removed.

Business Owners in the Back of the Directory?

Directories are great sources, but don’t neglect to see if there are lists in the back of individuals with various businesses and occupations. This 1891-1892 directory of Rock Island, Illinois, contained a reference to a boarding house owned by Mrs. Louisa Mortier. That was a discovery and now I need to see if the address of the boarding house is the same address listed as her husband’s reference. The family had no boarders listed in their 1880 census enumeration–but that was almost ten years before the reference in this city directory.

A relative may easily have had a business or occupation of which you were unaware.

Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it.

Places Not On the Map

Some locations do not exist on a map and may only have existed as a reference used by locals to a “generally known” area without precise borders. Newspapers can be one place to at least determine if such a place name actually existed–even if the precise location cannot be determined from the newspaper reference.

That’s case with this 1922 reference from the “Tioga” section of a newspaper from Quincy, Illinois. It mentions “Green Grove” and “Georgetown.” They obviously were relatively close to Tioga and everyone in 1922 knew where they were. The problem is that I don’t live in 1922.

The Green Grove reference was one I heard from my grandmother as a reference to where she attended school. A daughter of the George Trautvetter mentioned in the article, she would have been eleven at the time of the reference and was still attending school at that time.

The United States Geological Survey’s Geographic Information System contained a reference to Green Grove–indicating it was historical reference to a school in Hancock County, Illinois. That made perfect sense given the 1922 newspaper reference. There was no reference to Georgetown in either Hancock or Adams County in that database.

Newspaper references to a location can help you get an idea of where an unmapped place was located.

Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it.

Sandwich Those Tombstone Photos

If you plan on visiting several cemeteries in one research trip, make certain you organize your photos as you take them. Consider a “title page” as one of your photographs as well as photographs of the entrance of the cemetery. There are other ways to reduce confusion later, but this approach may be helpful:

  • photograph of title page–handwritten is fine if you are “in the field”
  • photograph of entrance
  • photographs of individual stones
  • photograph of entrance

It’s not necessary to be fancy. Then when sorting your photographs by the time they were taken, you know the cemetery each stone was located at. You can add more details to the location when you return home.

Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it.

Genealogy Tricks or Not?

I’m inclined to think that there are not any “tricks” to genealogical research. To be certain occasionally we stumble upon something, but that’s usually because we are looking for something and we have the names in our head and we notice something.

Often what are called “tricks” are really just good ideas. They are not “magic.” Those ideas include:

  • Organizing materials as you find them.
  • Transcribing documents as you find them.
  • Using online trees as clues, not facts.
  • Identifying people on pictures when you can and as soon as possible.
  • Writing down your process so you can re-analyze it later.
  • Learning about multiple sources so you have more options.
  • Not jumping to conclusions.

Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it.

Call Me Michael

He was christened Johann Michael Trautvetter in Bad Salzungen, Germany, in 1796, but his call name was Michael. He’s never referred to as Johann or John in any records in the Untied States after his immigration–it’s always Michael. The “call name” is the name that a person is called. For many Germans during the time period Johann Michael Trautvetter was alive, their first name was not their call name.

Those who immigrated may never have even used their first name in the United States or wherever they settled. Instead they opted to just use their call name as their actual name.

The 1796 christening entry for Michael (which is what I call him) reminds us not to assume. The underlined name in this christening entry is the father’s name, not the name of the child. Other locations and other pastors or priests may use a different form for their entries. Always pays to not assume that records in point A are just like those in point B.

The Genealogy Tip of the Day book is just about ready! Add your name to be notified when it is ready for distribution. Call names are one of the many things that Jim Beidler discusses in The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Germanic Ancestry in Europe.

That “Can’t Find them” List

We all have those people we can’t find in certain records for one reason or another and there comes a time when it’s time to move on and search for another record or another person.

But I’ve thought about creating a master list of those people and the records in which I can’t find them (along with where I’ve searched before and how). That “Can’t Find them List” is something that periodically I could refer to and try again. Not every week or every month, but maybe a few times a year when I’m in need of a break from whatever I’m working on.

Databases do get updated. New records are discovered. Researchers realize they have made mistakes. Instead of scouring my files for things I’ve not found, a list would let me spend a little more time on them when I wanted to.

And writing up that list and the things I have tried and how I tried it just might help me to see something I have overlooked.

The Genealogy Tip of the Day book is just about ready! Add your name to be notified when it is ready for distribution.