A relative retired from farming in the 1910s when his one son took over the operation of the farm and moved approximately twenty miles away. Five years later, the son was unable to manage the significant debt he had taken on. The father returned to the farm, paid the son’s debts, and the son left the farm to take a factory job in another town. Because the time period was fairly short and no census years were involved, it was some time before I discovered this relative’s short-lived foray into retirement. Did your ancestor move away for a short time only to return later? It could explain that short-term absence. That relative you think lived their entire life in Minnesota may have spent a few years in Texas […]
Always make certain you have gone through the complete set of estate settlement papers for any ancestor. If there are final accountings and they contain a list of heirs, that “most recent” record will have married names for female heirs and should list descendants for heirs that died before the estate could be completely settled.
We are offering another session of our 5 part series on US land records that runs weekly in February and March. Details are on our announcement page.
No matter how much research experience we have, how many guidebooks we have read, and how many seminars we have attended, we all have gaps in our knowledge. Those gaps can be because there are factual details we simply never learned about records, places, or events we think we know “everything” about either because we were never exposed to that information or when we were, for one reason or another, we ignored it. There may be aspects of our ancestor’s social existence that we don’t “get” or understand because our own existence or experience is different. The dynamics of a large family may not quite be understood by someone whose immediate family was quite small–only children of only children have a different reference point for family interaction compared […]
In slang terms a “Gretna Green” is a location where a couple can easily get married–usually just about immediately upon arrival. Often the location is “right across” a political border with restrictions and requirement that are fairly lax. While there was a literal Gretna Green in Scotland, the requirements there have changed over the years and “immediate” marriages appear to no longer be possible. But if you cannot find your ancestral couple’s marriage record in the location where they lived, check and see where the nearest Gretna Green was. That’s where they may have gone. Or they may have just gone three counties over where no one knew their parents.
If you’ve researched your family history for some time or had a semi-serious interest in it for a while it is easy to forget that others do not. If you’ve been involved with research for a while, you could probably easily (with some exceptions) give complete information for the death certificate for most close relatives. But you are not typical. Your knowledge is based upon interest you may not share with others and your own research. Your cousin who gives information on a death certificate in 1930 when her mother dies does not remember all that information–if they ever even knew it. Sometimes when we’ve known information for years it can be easy to forget that others simply do not know and to assume that everyone knows what […]
If you are looking for photographs or other family ephemera, keep in mind that some materials might have “left the family” at some point. Divorce or death of your ancestor’s spouse may have resulted in the relatives of a subsequent spouse of that ancestor settling up the effects of their household. Depending upon the dynamics of the time items from the home may have ended up anywhere–perhaps in a basement, attic, or storage unit of someone related to your ancestor through that subsequent marriage.
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Some suggestions when searching foreign-language records when the script is difficult to read: Make certain you know how the records are organized. Take your time. It is not a race. Do not research when you are tired. Do not research when you are distracted. Take copious notes. Record the notes with any downloaded images. Make certain the downloaded images are actually downloaded. Make certain you can find them. Organize them for later. Keep track of where you are in the image set at all times. Internet connections go down. Web pages reboot. Things crash. If you were on image 300 out of 450 images and “don’t remember where you were” when a mysterious restart happens… Be patient. When you start to think “I just want to get done,” […]
The Bureau of Land Management database of Federal land patents (https://glorecords.blm.gov/) includes individuals who received a land warrant based on pre-Civil War military service. Not all of the individuals who received land warrants received real property. Some military bounty land warrant recipients sold their warrant to someone else and that person exchanged the land warrant to obtain title to a piece of land in the Federal domain–that’s called getting the patent. Your ancestor who got a warrant will be in the BLM database as a warrantee. How that warrant was obtained (the application) will contain information on your ancestor. The National Archives has copies of those warrant applications. Add Genealogy Tip of the Day–the book–to your bookshelf!
Downloading images from some sites is an easy process. Do not let the ease of the download deceive you into thinking it is all that simple. Make certain you have enough detail with the download to “know where you got it” later and what the record actually is. Downloading entire US census pages makes tracking most of this information easy–it is often on the census record itself (except for the name of the website where you go it). Church records kept in ledger format are another story entirely. Individual pages often do not include the date, place, or even type of record. In some cases, the type of record is obvious, but other times it is not. Track these details as you create the downloads. Or you will […]
Maps and pictures are a great way to help visualize what an ancestral residence looked like. It can also be helpful to be aware of the relative distances between towns and cities that were important in your ancestors’ lives–especially if your family lived for generations in a collection of villages. While maps have a scale to give the perspective of distance, I constantly compare distances between ancestral villages to distances between locations in my own life. While the geography is not the same and the methods of transportation were different, the perspective helps–if only a little. It also makes the whole area in which they lived seem a little less abstract.
There’s a World War II draft card for a man named James Rampley Seibert born in Illinois in 1906. James Rampley is a name that appears numerous times in my family starting in Maryland in the late 1700s and continuing onward for nearly 150 years. In fact one known descendant of the first James Rampley in the United States is named James Rampley Elliott–after one of those James Rampleys. That does not mean that this James Rampley Seibert got his name in the same way. There may have been no connection between his first name of James and his middle name of Rampley. His middle name may have come from no familial connection to the Rampley family at all–the name could have been taken from a friend of […]
It can be tempting to only consider relatives when deciding whom to ask questions about our deceased family members. This can be a mistake. Others may be able to give you personal stories and remembrances of your parents, grandparents, etc. One way to do this is to reach out to individuals that knew your parents or grandparents–if you happen to know who some of those people are. Another way is to see if there are Facebook groups for locations (the smaller the area the better) where those deceased relatives used to live. Ask if someone remembers the people you are asking about. Those people outside the immediate family may have stories that are just as good as those within it. Sometimes the stories are even better. The artist […]
Sales of real property for failure to pay property taxes are usually from the “Sheriff of Youlivedhere County” to the individual who purchased the property. Your ancestor will not appear as the grantor on the deed. If you know (based on some solid evidence and not just conjecture) that your ancestor owned real property and cannot find a deed where they sold it, consider that it was sold for non-payment of taxes. Most counties list the Sheriff as the grantor on these transactions–your ancestor did not own it if the taxes were not paid–but find out for certain how the appropriate jurisdiction handles these matters. There may also be a lawsuit against your ancestor as well. Add Genealogy Tip of the Day–the book–to your bookshelf!
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