I gave an interview on a local radio station about genealogy and the Genealogy Tip of the Day book. It’s a wide-ranging discussion on a variety of general genealogy topics. Audio of the discussion is available on the WGIL-Galesburgwebsite.
Obituaries and estate notices usually appear in newspapers shortly after someone dies. There are other times a person may be mentioned years or decades after their death or departure from the area. Some small-town newspapers published snippets of items from the past as a way to engage readers and generate subscriptions. These items from ten, twenty, twenty-five, or fifty years ago were usually abbreviated versions of the original article. Given that earlier newspapers are sometimes harder for computerized algorithms to read, a digital search may find the more recent reference easier. Don’t always set your years of search to the person’s lifespan. The most interesting references may have been published some time after they were dead. And always go back and read the original reference for additional information.
If a relative reached any birthday milestone–75, 80, 90, or 100 years–there’s a chance something about it was mentioned in a local newspaper. The same goes for wedding anniversaries. These items may be located with searches of newspapers that have been digitized. For those newspapers that have not, consider searching for these items. Digital searches of newspapers are not perfect either and these are items that one may wish to search for manually as well. The names of the guests in attendance may be helpful. In this illustration out-of-town guests are named, but their relationships are not. Keep in mind locals during the time period knew how the guests were related so those details may not be included.
There are times where seeing things on your screen or being able to search quickly to “figure out who someone is” isn’t quite enough–at least for me. I’ve been working on my Ostfriesen families and the similarity of the names can lead to confusion. There are times where the names Antje Jurgens Ehmen Antje Tonjes Ehmen, Tonjes Jurgens Ehmen, Jurgen Ehmen, Willm Jurgens Ehmen, and Willm Tonjes Ehmen start to run together to the point where I’m about ready to start looking for Tonjes Antje Ehmen (there was no such person). These individuals are all children or grandchildren of the same ancestral couple (and there are more similar names that are not included here). To keep me organized and to where I don’t have to search for them […]
I’m not a big fan of genealogy “games” as I think some of them are time wasters and that’s simply not my thing. But have you thought about how your ancestral couples met? For some there may be family stories about how grandpa and grandma met. There are others where the best you can do is surmise that they simply lived within shouting distance of each other. But have you given it any thought how those couples met? My maternal grandparents met at Luther League in the 1930s. My paternal grandparents met likely because they lived relatively close to each other. My great-grandparents? Neill-husband was the hired man for his bride-to-be’s mother. Trautvetter-no real idea other than geographic proximity of living in the same general area of Tioga, […]
When manual searches of newspapers are necessary, don’t neglect searching the gossip or local correspondents’ columns before that relative dies as well as afterwards. If the person had “taken a turn” or been ill for a few weeks or months before they died, there may be mention of it in the newspaper with details not mentioned after the death. The illustration mentions Nancy Rampley’s illness in the paper not long before she actually died in 1923 and provided the name and residence of her sister. The name was slightly wrong, but it was a clue and the location was helpful as well.
I have two group research trips scheduled in 2020. Visit our site for more information or to save your spot! Salt Lake City’s Family History Library–May/June 2020 Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana–August 2020
Joseph Daby had four deeds recorded in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, in 1738–some of which had been executed nearly ten years earlier. Not everyone always had their land record recorded immediately. Some people just waited and others waited until they had more than one to record. For these reasons, always look for land records after you “think they should be recorded” and for multiple deeds to the same person recorded at the same time. Joseph Daby may have dabbled getting his deeds recorded but he was not the only one.
A source should never be used without the genealogist asking: How complete is it? How was it compiled? What could be missing? FindAGrave is perhaps the perfect example. It only includes burials that have been submitted by someone who either took a picture of the tombstone or, in some cases, learned about a burial in the cemetery or another source. It’s a great resource, to be certain, and it is a great place to start, but by its very nature it can be incomplete. Not every burial had a tombstone, deaths before death records were not recorded, and not every death or burial gets mentioned in a newspaper, etc. Every site or set of records should be used with the same concern over completeness–not just FindAGrave. But you […]
Those genealogy shows have budgets that we don’t, access to experts that many people don’t, and sometimes easier access to records than we have. The shows may be fun to watch and help to provide us with motivation, but they are not always realistic. You’ll have to work within your budget. This can be done by finding other ways to access information, networking with other relatives to share expenses, asking other researchers for suggestions (not necessarily indepth free help). You may not have access to “experts.” It’s possible that you won’t have access to “big name” experts, but there are groups on Facebook, genealogical societies, and other locations where you can possibly interact with individuals who are “in the know.” They may not be “big names,” but they […]
It can be fun to find copies of documents–either paper or digital reproductions of ancestral records. Do you always transcribe them or do you just scan through them? Does that will or deed seem too long, too difficult to understand, or too difficult to read? The best way to start understanding every detail of a document is to transcribe it. Simply reading a record silently can make it easy to miss key details or clues that were not originally obvious. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it and get your own copy. If you’d like to get our genealogy tip daily in your email for free, add your address here.
Individuals who have multiple middle names and who used more than one last name can create research headaches. The main reason is that they could appear in a record in any one of a number of ways. It’s important not to omit any of those name possibilities. Johann Christian Valentin Hess was born in 1827 in Wohlmuthausen, Thuringen, Germany. His parents, Ernestine Trautvetter and Kaspar Hess, were never married. His sister when she married in St. Louis, Missouri, used the last name of Trautvetter. It’s possible Johann Christian Valentin did as well. Of course, many Germans in the area where the Trautvetters were from did not use the “first name” they were given. Their “call name” was one of their “middle names.” That does not mean that they […]
Before you go to that courthouse, make certain you have answered some questions: What are the hours? What are the research policies? What do things cost? What can you bring in? Are there any special holiday closings? Are all records onsite? etc. Don’t “just show up.” You may be disappointed if you do. Consider asking a local researcher or someone who has been to the courthouse or facility before for advice.
I don’t really have a new variant spelling of Trautvetter in this entry for Anna Catharina Trautvetter that appears in the records of Wohlmuthausen, Thuringen, Germany, in 1823. There’s not a “new name” of Trautvetterin. The “in” is an ending attached to the name because Anna Catharina was female. Her last name is Trautvetter. Issues of this type are why it is important to learn about the culture and linguistic practices for the area where your family lived. What’s true in one area may not be true in another. Don’t assume an entire country is the same. My Germans who lived in other areas did not include any gender derived endings to surnames–ever. But certain parts did. And other parts didn’t. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn […]
Most genealogists should know how people reproduce. But sometimes we forget that people don’t have to be married for that to happen. In some time periods and in some locations, having children outside of marriage was more common than a person might think. Two siblings of my great-great-grandfather in Thuringen, Germany, had several children before they were married (1830-1840 era). They were apparently in a long-term relationship with the fathers of their children as baptismal records for the children indicate that both sisters had their children with the same father. Not the exact same father (one needs to be careful how one phrases things). One sister had her children with Mr. B and the other sister had her children with Mr. S. The sisters eventually married their respective […]
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