The photograph of my great-grandparents was mounted on a piece of heavy paperboard. My grandmother has written on the reverse side of it–writing that is on the paperboard and not on the picture. Today, approximately 100 years after the picture was mounted on the board, the glue gave up the ghost. The photo had been freed. It was freed from the paperboard and potentially from being identified. How many of your identifiers are not really attached to the picture? Get more tips in our Genealogy Tip of the Day book.
It never hurts to ask someone else “what is this?” I ran across an online posting indicating a former US president had written a decree in a divorce case. While I remembered the president having been an attorney, I did not remember him being a judge. Knowing that memories are sometimes ephemeral things (mine included), I recognized the fact that I could be wrong. Instead of scanning biographies of the former president, I decided to look at the original copy of the document to which the posting referred. A quick read of it made it clear what it was: a bill of complaint in a divorce case. It was not any sort of verdict or order issued by a judge. The former president had written a “bill” for […]
These words are easy to confuse. The mortgagor is the person who is borrowing the money. They are the person who is actual mortgaging their property. The mortgagee is the lender. They are the person to whom the debt is owed which is secured by the property owned by the mortgagor.
Reviewing sets of image files is a good activity when you “want to do some genealogy,” but brick walls and real life have you frustrated. Is there a chance you have something in the wrong place? In the example, it’s just a stray restaurant menu from when my daughter and I spent a day at the Library of Virginia taking images of original court records. But it could have just as easily been something I really needed later and had put in the wrong place. Of course, I do need to eat, but that’s not really the point of this tip.
This hopefully is our last post about my Grandma Neill’s teeth. My Grandma had her teeth removed in her early thirties because they were “bad.” It’s been at least forty years since Grandma mentioned her teeth to me and I certainly cannot ask her about them now. It honestly was not a common topic of conversation. A reader pointed out to me that Grandma could have had her teeth removed for cosmetic reasons, including horribly buck teeth, terrible alignment, etc. At first I dismissed the comment. Then I got to thinking about what Grandma actually said and I realized that I could not really remember her description of them–except that they were “bad.” She might have said they were “no good” or that they were “rotten.” Again I […]
It is not the most startling of genealogical revelations, but it is instructive. I was reading through the entries in my Grandpa Neill’s farm ledger absentmindedly in hopes of finding something that met my loose definition of interesting. There were two entries for the dentist in the fall of the year. The second entry for $60 caught my eye. Then I wondered, “are those Grandma’s dentures?” What happened next is instructive. I shut the book without looking in it any further and forced myself to think what I knew about Grandma’s dentures. There was one thing I was absolutely certain of because I had first hand knowledge: she only had a lower plate because I had seen it several times and, as far as I knew, she had […]
We are not talking about getting married, having a child, retiring, or selling those stocks you bought using a tip from your fourth cousin. We are talking about that term, cultural practice, or lifestyle that you’ve discovered and decide to learn more about with a quick Google search. Separate from the fact that anyone can post anything on the internet, there are bigger concerns if you want to make certain you are understanding things about your ancestor as correctly as you can given the amount of time that has elapsed between their life and yours. Time is one of those concerns. Was the “thing you learned about” a “thing” in the 1500s or the 1800s? Make certain that the “thing” you have learned about was a “thing” in […]
Transcribing old ledgers, account books, and estate inventories can sometimes be difficult. Businesses that are no longer in existence may be mentioned, names be abbreviated in unique ways, farm implements or occupational tools may be ones that are no longer used, etc. One way to potentially determine the names is to perform searches in digital newspapers for what can be transcribed. Wild card searches (*oat, sho*t, etc.) can be helpful when items can only partially be read. Newspapers may contain more complete references to items that can only partially be read in the item being transcribed. Business names your relative partially abbreviated may be more completely spelled out. Advertisements for these businesses may provide more detail about what they sold for those times when your ancestor’s reference to […]
[note: Originally I spelled “thresh” as “thrash” throughout the entire post. I’ve corrected it, but I’ve made the notation here because, as some readers have pointed out, the spelling based on the pronunciation brings back a nice memory.. In my case Grandma would talk about making large meals when the “thrashers” were there. I can almost hear her saying it.] Reviewing my grandfather’s farm ledger, I noticed who he hired to come and thresh grain for him in 1944. The last name was one I recognized from my childhood, so I looked him up on the 1940 census. He was easily found living not too far from my grandfather and was about his age–just seven years older. The last name was the same as one of my Dad’s […]
My grandmother used to work out and my Grandpa paid locker rent. When Grandma worked out in the 1920s and 1930s, it meant she worked for a neighboring family doing household chores, preparing meals, and other related tasks. When my Grandpa Neill paid locker rent in the 1940s it was for rent at a frozen food cooperative where he had freezer space where he and Grandma could store butchered meat and other food items they wanted to preserve by freezing. Readers of a certain age will already know what these terms mean. Others may not. Any document or record can easily contain a term or phrase whose meaning has changed over time. That chance increases as the genealogy research extends further and further back in time. Is there […]
There is no doubt that Google searches can help in transcribing some family history documents. It can be particularly helpful when a legal phrase has a word “right smack dab in the middle” that is difficult to read. The transcriber should still note that the illegible word is difficult to read–just in case the suggested transcription is not applicable in that specific instance. Google will not give an answer to everything. There are times where the best help is someone who is familiar with the type of record being transcribed, the type of information contained in the record, or the location where the record was created. That’s the case with the farm ledger from the 1940s that I have for my grandfather. A few of the entries were […]
My online bank statement changed their interface recently with “new information.” It indicated that “spendable balance” in my checking account was negative. What? I wasn’t in arrears and I was not overdrawn. The “spendable balance” was a projected balance including disbursements scheduled for the next seven days–including two payments set to come out a week from when I viewed the statement. The “spendable balance” did not take into account a regular deposit that would arrive in the next few days. Once I understood the “spendable balance,” I understood it and there was no cause for concern. When you see a statement or a piece of information, think about it before you react to it. Where does that statement come from? Are there words in the statement you do […]
There is a reason why some of us do not work in sales. We hate calling or contacting someone out of the blue and asking them something. Genealogists have to do that. It can be the only way you find things out. It can be the only way you get those family pictures or other family items. If you are the only one who knows about your interest in family history, it makes it more difficult to find family history items than it already is. Let others know of your interest in family history. It’s not necessary to tell them repeatedly, but some reminders help. Reach out to relatives that you do not see regularly–or maybe have never seen at all. Reach out to relatives by marriage who, […]
People tend to marry and reproduce with others who share their culture and life experiences. While there are exceptions to this practice, it is not hard to see why people gravitate towards others with whom they have things in common. It’s human nature. Some cultures encourage this in a subtle fashion. Some cultures and groups are more stringent in their requirement that members of the group marry others within the group. That practice is referred to as endogamy. An endogamous group is one where individuals marry within the group. My maternal ancestors who came to the United States in the late 19th century from Ostfriesland were somewhat endogamous. All of my maternal ancestors (until my mother married in 1967) married others in the same ethnic community. This was […]
Your relative might have had interests or hobbies that were unrelated to his “real” occupation–the one that is always listed in census records, death certificates, etc. But those non-occupational interests or hobbies might have caused your relative to appear in certain records–most often newspapers. A relative who was a semi-professional musician may have been mentioned in the newspaper in a write-up related to a concert, an athlete may have been mentioned in the local sports pages due to a notable performance in a game, a local actor may have been mentioned as appearing in a local play, etc. Document these activities that your relative was involved in. It will help you when searching for newspapers and other items where activities of this type may be mentioned.
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