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.
For that missing (or not missing) ancestor, do you know where the nearest three of these buildings, geographic features, organizations, social groups, etc. were when your ancestor lived in the area. It could help you through those research road blocks. Things to think about include the nearest three: churches, schools, newspapers, cemeteries, county seats, rivers, mountains, county lines, federal land offices (if applicable), train stops, towns where people could trade and get supplies, employers who employed more than a few people, etc. There are others besides these. In some cases. three may not be enough. In some cases it may be more than you need for effective research. Get your copy of Genealogy Tip of the Day–the book.
Sometimes the fight between two family members lasts for the rest of their lives. It can impact how much children or grandchildren know about certain family members. It can impact how family ephemera gets passed down from one generation to another. It can impact how individuals do not know they have first cousins living fifteen miles away. It can be difficult to say how an estrangement can impact those left behind, but the genealogical impact can last for generations. Family may need to be found to settle up an estate but their only communication could be through their lawyers.
Some of us are fortunate to have flowers and other plants that have ties to relatives. Those items can be a living reminder of a long or not-so-long deceased relative and a connection to that person we may never have met. If you have an ancestral plant, take a picture. Include the picture and a story of the plant as a part of your genealogical record.
Indexes are finding aids to take the researcher to the actual record. They are not mean to replace the actual record. Indexers can make mistakes by transcribing names incorrectly or leaving names out. Do not rely entirely on an index to a record to find what is in it. Search manually if you have reason to believe that a person who does not appear in the index should be in the actual record. Do not rely on the index’s transcription of the record to be either complete or accurate. Look at the record yourself.
When you have reached a genealogical conclusion, it’s always good to include the records, their citations, and the reasoning you used to reach that conclusion. It’s also good to track what something is “not” along with the reasons why. A relative sent me a 1917 picture of my Newman ancestor that included her two living siblings at the time–taken when the brother was celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary. There was writing on the back and she included a scan of that writing as well. She then included what I felt was an important comment which essentially said “I don’t know whose writing this is on the back but it’s not Mom’s and it’s not Grandma’s.” That was a good thing for me to know. The cousin would have […]
Don’t assume two individuals are related because they lived in the same proximity and had the same last name. In certain regions, some last names are extremely common and may have originated in ways that have nothing to do with shared ancestry. Or the relationship may be so distant that it will require tracing the ancestry further back than is possible and was so far removed that the individuals were unaware of the relationship. The last name of Janssen is common in my maternal families. It literally means child of Jann/Jans. There were many men named Jann and during the time period when surnames were derived from first name, many unrelated families ended up with the surname of Janssen.
We have released new copies of webinars on: Pond Crossing–tracking immigrants. This contains methods for tracking movers in general. Newspapers Siblings/Extended Family Brick Wall Potpourri More details are on our announcement page. Introductory price of $9 each (regularly $16) through 27 July.
If your ancestor moved from point A to point B, what was the “tie” that took them there? Was it a relative? Was it a job? Was it the ability to evade the law? Was it the ability to “start over?” Was it a financial opportunity? Was it free or cheap land? Was it their church? Was it something else? People don’t often move without any reason or connection to the area.
Digital images of city directories give genealogists search options that we could only dream of in the days of manually paging through them. One way to search these items is by address to determine if other individuals are listed as residing at the same location as your ancestor. Before searching a directory for a specific address browse it so that you can: Determine what items are abbreviated and how. See what numbers are spelled out–is it 4th Street or Fourth Street? Determine how addresses are formatted and entered in the directory.
The dog is not going to turn on the water hose by himself. His paw simply is not made to do it. If you are stuck on a genealogical problem, there may be tools you need that you do not have. It could be a language issue, the ability to read the handwriting or foreign-language script, or an unfamiliarity with legal terminology. It may be that you are not accessing all the records that were created or that you are accessing only the ones that are easily available online. Is the problem that you don’t understand the records you have located? The dog probably doesn’t understand how to turn the water on. You may need to ask someone for help–which is what the dog is probably going to […]
Addresses can change even if your ancestor’s home never did. Street names can change house numbers can change. Using addresses as a key to tying people together is an excellent genealogical tool (in areas and time periods that have addresses), but keep in mind they can vary over time. Determine if and when the city/town where your relative lived had any renaming or renumbering of the streets. Sometimes these changes were citywide and sometimes they were only for certain neighborhoods or areas. Even rural ancestors can have this happen. Rural route numbers change and the adoption of a 911-address system can create modern differences as well.
Tracking certain families in urban settings can be difficult–the names are often more common than you think. One way to help distinguish individuals is by their residence–every residence listed on a document. The key in connecting members of this Sullivan family from Pittsburgh was using the residences of the informants on death records, next of kin on draft registrations, etc. The individuals moved around, but the next of kin and informants were almost always living at the same address. Not every family has that “one person who never moves,” but it is always advised to track every address for anyone listed on your relative’s documents. Those locations can be the key to separating out families and making connections where appropriate.
There are words that can be vague in certain situations. Brother-in-law is one of those words. If a writer uses the phrase “my brother-in-law,” to whom are they referring. Is it their sister’s husband? Is it their spouse’s brother? Is it their spouse’s sister’s husband? Sometimes the reader will know to whom the writer is referring. Other times they will not. Always make certain your own use of terminology is clear–remember the reader may not have all the information at their fingertips that you have in your head.
When someone “can’t be found” after their spouse dies, the question to ask is “did they marry again?” In locations where women change their last name upon marriage, the reason for the disappearance should be obvious: the name has changed. Men who remarry do not change their last name, but it is possible that they move to a new location after the marriage or relationship starts. The move may be unexpected if the individual has lived in the same place their entire life. If the person marries near where they had always lived, finding the record and new names might not be a problem. In other situations finding them may be more difficult. Obituaries, estate records, and newspaper “gossip columns” can be some places to find what happened […]
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