Those Places You Cannot Find

The location of some places can be difficult to find, particularly if they were never on any map, were not an “official name,” and only known to locals who have long since passed away.

One way to attempt to pinpoint these locations is to search for them in digital versions of old newspapers (using quotation marks around the phrase) or at sites that have out-of-copyright books like http://books.google.com. The location may not have been on a map but could easily have been referenced in a newspaper or 1800-era book.

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Some Friendly Advice…

The best way to get better at your DNA matches is to work on ALL of them–even the ones you are not interested in on the families you “already know everything about.” If you are having difficulty reading a document from 1720 (and it is in a language you are literate in), transcribe documents from 1850, 1800, 1750, etc. and work your way back. It may be that the document from 1720 is difficult to read, but sometimes a little extra practice with ones that are easier is what we really need.

Occasionally people start to swim in the really deep end of the pool when a little more time in the shallow end might be a good idea. We all need help sometimes with one thing or another. But building your skills is not necessarily a bad thing either.

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Do You Really Concentrate?

If you are having difficulty with your DNA results, keeping relationships straight in a family where everyone is related twice, etc. have you really allowed yourself to fully concentrate?

Or are you checking the email and social media every few minutes? Are you distracted by household chores that need to be done? Are you going to search what’s “new” on your favorite genealogical website?

Some genealogical tasks can be done when you are distracted, others will go better if you are not. DNA analysis, document transcription, relationship determination, etc. are best done when you have a block of uninterrupted time. Five minutes here and five minutes there does not allow you time to really process information and try to understand it.

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Most Xs Usually Yd

Generalizing is necessary at times in creating a research plan. Thinking about what records were usually created and what most of them usually contained is a way to determine where to next focus research energies.

But I cannot use the belief that “most of the time x usually happened at y time or at y place to enter dates or locations in my database as if they were documented facts.

Peter and Barbara Bieger had their first child in Warsaw, Illinois, in January of 1851. One might assume that they were married in or near Warsaw a few years before the birth. Nope. They were married in 1849 (a few years before the birth, but…) in Cincinnati, Ohio, where they lived for a very short time before moving.

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Buried In Does Not Mean Died In

An ancestor died in 1877 and is buried in the Bethany Church Cemetery in Tioga, Illinois. There is a funeral entry for her in the records of the church which gives the same date of death as her tombstone but does not mention where she died.

There is no civil record of her death as not all deaths were recorded in Illinois in 1877–this was still in the early days of recording civil records of deaths and births in Illinois). There is no obituary for her and no family Bible recording her vital events exists.

My entry for her in my database should not indicate she died in Tioga. She likely died near Tioga, given that she is buried there. Tioga is close to both a township line and a county line, so I cannot say with certainty what township or county she was buried in.

I have a date of death and a place of burial. Sometimes we have to be satisfied with that.

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Abstracts, Extracts, and Transcriptions

Abstracts pick and choose key elements of a document, without transcribing anything word for word. Extracts pick out short sections of a document, transcribing those sections verbatim. Transcriptions of a document include the entire document copied verbatim.

Abstracts, extracts, and transcriptions serve different purposes. Make certain you know which one you are using.

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When There Is No Page Number?

Some older records kept in ledger-type format may have no page numbers that can be used in the creation of a citation or a detailed reference. There are probably other guides or reference points within the records you can use as a means to later find the same reference. Is the entry a baptismal entry from 1850 in a series of baptisms entered chronologically? Is it a funeral entry from a chronological list of entries from 1812? Are the entries within a series of items numbered individually? Is the record organized alphabetically by farm name (as sometimes happens in Sweden)? Are their image numbers on the microfilm? There’s probably a way you can create a trail to get back to that page–just don’t forget to do it.

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Don’t Forget the Page Number

It can happen to any of us–forgetting the page number. When looking at the copy of a 1919 legal document, I realized that while I wrote down the book number, I neglected to make certain the page number copied as well. I got the entire document, but the page number is hidden in the shadow on the corner of the page.

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Search for Land Warrants at the BLM site

The Bureau of Land Management website contains digital images of land patents issued for property in the Federal domain. The bulk of these were issued in the 19th century and many were issued based upon the submission of a military land warrant based on military service.

Search for any relatives who lived during the time period where they could have served in the American Revolution through Mexican War to see if a patent was issued based upon a warrant that was issued in their name. The warrant application at the National Archives will document their military service and potentially provide more details about their life.

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Do You Need to Revise?

Way back in 2003, I thought I had “figured out” an 1860 census enumeration with a few irregular entries. I even had a list of reasons why my conclusion was correct. Flash forward to 2011. In attempting to “redo” the research, I reached a different conclusion about the 1860 census entry–one that meant I had more work to do. Genealogical conclusions are always subject to new information, new procedures, and the potential that a misinterpretation was made along the way. Don’t be afraid to revise.

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