I recently discovered that an ancestor of mine died when he had barely been married five years, leaving behind a wife and three small children. In 1837 this caused a large change in his widow’s life. Did she move back to the nearby village where she was from? Did she move in with parents or a family member? How did she support herself and her children? Did she marry again and have more children?
All are things I need to think about in my research strategy to locate the ancestor after her husband’s death.
Check out Genealogy Tip of the Day the book!
Online message boards and genealogy groups are great places to interact with other genealogists, get helpful suggestions, and find out about new sources, etc. They are also places where all sorts of inaccurate information and theories get passed around.
Double check what some random person told you a genealogy word means, what a certain legal process really entailed, etc. They may be correct–but they may be wrong as well.
If your relative owned real estate and there is no deed that can be located, consider the following options:
- The relative inherited the property and the deed of acquisition is the will where it was bequeathed or the intestate probate of the deceased owner they were an heir to.
- The deed of purchase was not recorded. While it’s not too common, it is possible.
- Consider that your relative never actually owned real property.
If you’re trying to get a different grasp on your ancestor and her life, see how many things you can use to describe them that do not involve numbers. While numbers are important, it’s also important to think about those other characteristics of our relatives that are non-numeric in nature.
Often these qualitative characteristics can help us get a broader picture of our ancestor and perhaps think of some sources or research methods that we have overlooked.
When using any sort of record for genealogical research, ask yourself–who gets in this record? Is it just landowners? Is it everyone who was alive in a certain place on a certain date? Is it just men of a certain age? Is it anyone who dies in a certain location? Is it just people who can vote? Is it people who have sufficient assets? Is it members in good-standing of a certain denomination?
How people get into a record matters when you are interpreting the information you find in that record and how you go forward when someone is not located in that record.
You may be fortunate enough to know what your relative’s occupation was. But do you know anything about that occupation during the time period your relative had it?
There could be clues in that occupation that could help you learn even more about your relative than you already do.
And just because you know how the occupation “works” today does not mean that you know how it “worked” in 1750.
If your relative immigrated, don’t assume they only crossed the border or ocean only one time. It was not unheard of for immigrants to make return trips to the old country. Sometimes this was done to bring other immigrants on the return trip. The immigrant might have thought they wanted to go back home to stay only to realize that they really did want to immigrate. Some returned for short visits to family members for one reason or another with no intention of remaining in the home country.
Never assume that relative only made one trip to immigrate. That first trip could have been one of a series of voyages.
If Amazon’s too slow, we still have copies of the Genealogy Tip of the Daybook that can be sent directly to you via USPS. It can be a great way to refresh yourself on things you forgot, learn new things, or view research from a different perspective.
It can be read in one setting, browsed at random, or used to generate ideas for your own research. It’s easy to read, informative, and geared towards helping you with your research and not seeing how much labored prose and ten-syllable words can be used in one sentence.
If you’re “stuck at home” (or even if you are not), get your copy today!
There’s more information on the book on our website.
Dealing with a “new to you record” can sometimes be confusing. That confusion is compounded when the record is written in blank book format where the clerk or records keeper had to create their own form. Sometimes that “homemade form,” was unique to the person who originally kept the records.
Determining what the format was for each entry, what the columns stood for, etc. may take some time. It may require more than just looking at the entry of interest. It may require more than looking at just the entries on the page containing your ancestor’s entry–particularly if some columns are used infrequently.
And it always requires patience.
Note: I’ve been reminded of the importance of this in working with some tax records from Ohio. All of us occasionally have something new to us that provides a challenge.
There is so much information on FamilySearch that it can be easy to confuse exactly what database is what.
The Family Tree is an attempt to create one worldwide “family tree” where everyone can collaborate, make additions, corrections, changes, etc. The theory is that the “cream will rise to the top,” but it contains errors. Sometimes entries in this tree will contain links to actual images of records.
Databases and indexes are an attempt to make it easier to determine if certain names of individuals are contained in certain sets of records. These items are meant to be finding aids and they are imperfect. The transcriptions are meant to make it easier to find someone in the actual record and should not be used in place of the actual record image if available. https://www.familysearch.org/search/
Images of actual records are also on FamilySearch. These can always be found through the catalog. Some have indexes, but many do not and some need to be searched manually. To determine what actual record images are online at FamilySearch search the catalog for your geographic area of interest.