We are offering a new section of our “US Land Records” class during April and May of 2020. Lectures are downloadable and can be viewed whenever. Discussions are online. Homework is optional. More details on our blog post.
When I’m stuck on a family, I ask myself: am I sure I have found all the easy ones? Sometimes I have and then the work is more difficult. But other times there are easier members of the family to find and sometimes finding those individuals can provide me with additional information to help find the others. These “easy pickings” include: Individuals whose name is less likely to be spelled wrong in a census. Children in a census whose ages are less likely to be off . A relative who was better set financially and left more records. A relative who received a military pension. A relative who was in a different social class and left better records. A relative who lived longer when perhaps better records were […]
Not all homestead applications in the United States were successful. Part of the process of completing the homestead application was to post a public notice that the claim was nearing completion–and often that notice was published in the newspaper. Homestead claims that were completed generated a land patent which transferred title to the claimant. Those patents are indexed on the Bureau of Land Management website (https://glorecords.blm.gov/ ). Claims that were not completed did not generate a patent and consequently do not appear in that website. Incomplete claims are generally not indexed. The incomplete files are at the National Archives and can contain significant information on your ancestor. One needs the location of where the property was located to obtain the incomplete claim records. If the incomplete claim got […]
Be careful “sorting” photographs that a deceased relative already had in separate envelopes or boxes. It can be tempting to organize them when you are beginning to identify them, but remember that re-sorting them may cause you to lose forever clues that were contained in that original sorting. If the original envelopes and boxes are not preservable, store them in the same way you found them. This old mailing envelope contained a whole cache of photos that were only partially identified. Fortunately most of them are individuals that I know. The envelope was one of several in my parents’ things. Every photo in the envelope was a relative of my paternal grandfather.
There’s a lot more to church attendance for some individuals besides being baptized, getting married, and having a funeral. Details in those other church records may provide the additional clues about your ancestor for which you are looking. Some churches kept records of individuals who were confirmed, were able to receive their first communion, took communion in general (especially in those churches where frequent communion was not common), made donations, served in some church organization, etc. A church may have kept a family register that provided ecclesiastical information on members of the family, including where they were born or baptized, where they were confirmed, married, etc. Churches may have kept records of when individuals were received into membership. They may also have kept records of those who were […]
It is always advised to compare a record of your ancestor to others in the same series of records. How does the amount of detail compare? If the document is a death certificate, is it filed in the same time frame after the death as the others? If it is a handwritten baptismal entry is there something about it that is different from others? Whenever you are confused about a document, look at similar ones to get a reference point. You can’t know what’s unusual if you don’t know what other ones look like. Like this phone from my childhood. It sat on top of a box of toys in my Grandparents’ home for years. I thought they came with a red O. They don’t. Grandma painted it […]
My parents are buried in the same cemetery in adjacent plots. I know where they are buried because I was there the day it happened. I am a source for that information. Their death certificates are not. Their death certificates give a date of burial, but the place of burial is only as specific as the township. They do not provide the name of the cemetery. So if I’m creating a citation to a record or reason as to how I know they are buried in the cemetery where they are buried, I cannot use the death certificate. I can use my knowledge. I can use the tombstone (even though we all know that tombstones are not always 100% evidence someone is buried in a cemetery). I can […]
Sometimes the best pictures don’t always show the faces of the people in them. They tell a story without really letting us know what the individuals actually looked like. And sometimes the documents that provide the biggest piece of genealogical information don’t always make any blunt, in-your-face, direct statements. A man purchases property in his own name in 1821, suggesting he was born by at least 1800. A man sells property in Massachusetts in 1780 and buried in the metes and bounds legal description is a reference to his mother (without stating her relationship), along with her new married name. An estate inventory in Illinois references income from a mortgage in Kentucky and researching that mortgage leads to major discoveries on the family. Never overlook a reference because […]
Some things about your ancestor remain the same: where they were born, who their parents were, where they died, etc. It may be difficult or impossible to determine these things, but they are facts about your relative that don’t change–even if our knowledge about them does. Religion is one of those things that can change over time. While your own personal faith system or denomination may remain constant for your entire life, your ancestor may not have been the same. She may have been raised in one denomination, married and spent a good portion of her child rearing years in another, and died while a member of another faith. For this reason it is advised to search records of more than one denomination in your search for an […]
Change for the sake of change is just change. Change with a purpose is a separate matter entirely. What new skill have you learned to help you with your genealogical research? Is there a software program that might help you to organize your genealogical information? Do you know as much about legal terminology as you should? Are you familiar enough with land descriptions to interpret them reasonably well (particularly helpful if your ancestors were landowning farmers)? Do you know how to make charts and tables in your word processor well enough so that you can use them to organize pieces of information that are confusing? Don’t be afraid to learn something new. It may help you with more than just your research.
There’s a grade school picture of my Dad where his hair is a bright blond. That’s certainly not the way I remember it. As long as I can remember it was black. When researching your relative ask yourself: what about them could have changed over time? It could have been more than their hair color. It could have been their occupation, their marital status, their economic status, their religion, etc. Those changes could explain why they cannot be located in certain records, in a certain place, etc. Some changes are obvious. Others are not. Depending upon how many of those changes we have had in our own lives it may be easier to see how similar ones could have impacted our relatives. If we’ve not experienced those changes, […]
Anything can be anywhere. This picture of my grandmother and her sister, taken in the 1920s and probably less than two inches on a side, was found tucked in the bottom drawer of my mother’s jewelry box. I nearly overlooked it. All of Mom’s pictures were grouped together with other pictures. This one was all by itself. The girl on the right in the picture was my Mom’s mother-in-law. Fortunately I know who the girls are, but I have no idea where Mom got the picture. I’m not certain how it got in the jewelry box, but it was likely done for safekeeping–either by my Mom or my Dad. The point: anything can be anywhere. This not only applies to family photographs and ephemera, but pieces of information […]
Most of the time when a child has a guardian appointed it means at least one of their parents is deceased and that the minor child had an interest in that parent’s estate that needed to be protected. If the father died, the surviving widow may not have been appointed the guardian. But dead parents were not the only reason a guardian may have been appointed for a child. If another relative died and wanted to leave the child property, they may have indicated who they wanted appointed that child’s guardian upon the relative’s death. Sometimes that guardian was not the child’s parent. The most frequent situation of a child with living parents being appointed a guardian is when a grandparent was not overly fond or trusting of […]
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 […]
The picture discussed in this post is not included because the other two individuals are living. There’s a picture of me in a suit taken in the early 1970s. I look to be approximately four-years old. When it was taken was a mystery. There’s a little girl, also dressed up and also about my age, standing next to me. I have no female first cousins, so that’s not who the person is. I did not recognize the person and she didn’t appear to be any female relative I could think of based on her age, hair color, and general face shape. She’s not a relative. As soon as I looked in the background of the picture and saw the woman sitting in the background in a church pew, […]
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