We are not in that era where every record of possible genealogical use can be accessed via the internet. No matter what your cousin in Oregon tells you and no matter what the Ancestry.com ads say, genealogical research simply cannot be done with the click of a mouse. One of my favorite records often found in the county recorder’s offices of federal land states are tract indexes to local land records. These indexes, created by the local records’ office staff, index land records by where the property is located–not by any name on the land record. They are a great finding aid, but rarely were they micofilmed (or later digitized) by the Genealogical Society of Utah (the Family History Library). They have to be accessed onsite. There are […]
You never know who will appear in a search at GoogleBooks. The site http://books.google.com contains images of millions of pages of books–some out of copyright and others not. An entry was even located for my uncle, a career marine during the approximate 1920-1950 time frame. I never expected to find a reference to him, but there it was. One never knows what references could be located with a search of GoogleBooks at http://books.google.com
Anne Rampley’s name and date of birth are on a tombstone in the Buckeye Cemetery in Hancock County, Illinois. Her husband’s date of birth and death are included. While I do indicate what the tombstone says in my records, I do not indicate that Anne is buried here just based on the stone. I realize it is possible that Anne was buried there and the date of death was never inscribed. It is also possible that the date of death is not on the tombstone because she was not buried there. What is known is that Anne survived her husband at his death in 1907 and they had no children. It is entirely possible that no one bothered to have the date inscribed there after her death–if she […]
Working with city directories can be tedious, especially if someone lived in an area for some time. Occasionally surprising discoveries await those who take the time to view an ancestor’s entry for every year they lived in the location covered by the directory. This 1894 directory for the City of Davenport, Iowa, indicated that Mrs. Mary Cawiezell was the widow of Anthony Cawiezell and that shed died on 12 February of 1893. This information should be supplanted by other records if possible, but in some locations a record of this type may be the only one available. The date could be incorrect (this is not a typical death record) and a citation to the directory as the source should be attached to the date in your genealogical database. […]
In reviewing a twentieth-century family I have not worked on in some time, an obituary had me completely confused. The names of the children were consistent with other records, but the grandchildren and great-grandchildren made no sense to me–at least not using the information I had already located. I put the obituary aside and looked at other records–including earlier obituaries of the family and what vital records could be found online. Going back to the obituary with more details allowed me to develop a hypothesis. It appeared that the obituary writer or editor referred to grandchildren as grandchildren and to step-grandchildren as great-grandchildren. It’s an easy mistake to make, particularly when the person reviewing the information is not personally familiar with the family. The obituary actually referred to […]
Sound genealogy research advice suggests that we research names that appear as witnesses on documents our ancestor signed. That’s good advice. Those names could be clues. The key word is could. Like much advice it all depends on context and the specific situation. The more often the same person appears as a witness on documents my ancestor signed, the more likely there is to be a connection between the witness and the ancestor. If the ancestor was an immigrant who did not know the language and the witness name appears to be from the same ethnic group that is suggestive of a connection. In some cases where an ancestor could not read, I have wondered if the witness was a trusted associate of the ancestor who was literate […]
It can be fun to find information, make discoveries, and be “hot on the trail” of tracing a lineage. It’s not as much fun to organize and keep track of what you have found. That organization and tracking is imperative so that careless mistakes are not made and information does not have to be located more than once. Take time to organize what you find as you find it. Later you will be glad you did. Because sooner or later you’ll need to find something in that haphazard collection of materials you’ve put in a folder on your computer or a pile on your living room floor. Or you will realize you’ve found the same thing three times and that you are more confused than necessary.
When a family letter, newspaper reference, interview or other item refers to two individuals as being “cousins,” remember that the relationship may not be a “first cousin” (an individual with whom a person shares a set of grandparents. The reference could be to one of a variety of relationships. In informal writing, I use the word “cousin to refer to a relative with whom I share an ancestor and who is not my own direct-line ancestor or an aunt or uncle. The person may be a second cousin, third cousin, fourth cousin once removed, etc. I’m not the only one who does this and your grandma’s reference to someone as her cousin may mean what my reference to the word does or it may even indicate other relationships–including […]
Laws change. In 1887 a widowed relative and her child immigrate to the United States. In 1888 that widow marries a United States citizen. At that point in American history, the widow and her child are now United States citizens. As a woman what rights she had at that point in time are another matter entirely. But if the researcher encounters a later census enumeration where the date of immigration and the date of naturalization for the grown child look a little “odd” because they are one year apart–that’s the likely reason for it.
We are offering this 3 session class as an online download and a “go at your own pace” schedule. No homework (unless you practice on your own stuff). There are more details on our announcement page.
My relative’s tombstone in a Tioga, Hancock County, Illinois, cemetery indicated that she died in 1877. The place of death is not given and I’m not certain where she died–at least not exactly. I do have a fairly good hunch as to where she died–at least as far as the name of the township. I probably know where she died. Based on the tombstone (and the death record at the church), I have the date of death. But I need to exercise some care when I comment somewhere about her place of birth. Died in 1877 probably in Walker Township, Hancock County, Illinois. Probably died in 1877 in Walker Township, Hancock County, Illinois. I use the first suggestion and put the “probably” after the year or date of […]
Your immigrant ancestor who had not naturalized could not vote in elections. What else could your unnaturalized immigrant ancestor not do? The way to get the specific answer to this is to view contemporary state statute and see what rights are allocated to alien citizens. Unnaturalized aliens and those who had not filed a declaration of intent to become a citizen of the US could not file a claim for a homestead. Depending upon the time period and the location, your alien ancestor may not have been able to file suit in court, bequeath property in a will, own property, etc. These laws have changed over time–do not assume what was true in 1800 was true in 1900. The answer is in contemporary state statute, many of which […]
Before 1906, any court of record could naturalize in the United States. While there tended to be one court within each county that did this, it is possible that in certain areas there was more than one court in a county working people through the naturalization process. Make certain you’ve search the records of all courts that could have naturalized your ancestor. Also consider the possibility that your relative may have traveled a distance to naturalize, perhaps in a location where an already naturalized relative was living.
How carefully do you read? When reading documents, make certain you are actually reading and thinking about what the document says. Also make certain you are seeing what the document actually says and not what you want it to say. Based on responses I see to things people post on social media and elsewhere, it seems that there are some who do not always actually read what is written before responding to it. Make certain you don’t do that with genealogical information.
Genealogy is often about location. Where your ancestor lived and where records were kept for individuals who lived in that location are vital things to know. Do you know all the political jurisdictions in which your ancestor lived: town/city/village, township, hundred, county, state, province, etc.? Do you know what jurisdictions border those towns, cities, villages, townships, hundreds, counties, states, etc.? How close did you ancestor lived to any of those borders? What is the chance he or she crossed those borders and left records in another area? Which of those jurisdictions kept records? Which ones still keep records? Where are those records located?
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