While state statute usually defines these terms, it is generally true that an heir of a deceased person is someone who inherits from the deceased based upon their biological relationship to the deceased. Who qualifies as an heir is defined by state statute. A legatee (or sometimes what is called a beneficiary) is typically someone whom the deceased has mentioned in their will or other papers with a directive that they are to receive certain property when the individual dies. Heirs are related. Legatees and beneficiaries may not be related biologically. Always make certain you know the definition of any term used in legal documents by your ancestor. Sometimes a layman’s definition is not the same as the legal one. Get Genealogy Tip of the Day the book!
Your relative, when providing you with oral family history information, may easily get events in the wrong order. The details they remember, with the exception of the order in which they happened, may be perfectly correct. The order in which things happened does matter because a correct time frame matters at least most of the time. If two events are completely unrelated to each other, it can be even easier to confuse the order in which they happened. When talking to a relative, focus on what they can remember. If the order in which things happens seems a litle wonky, concentrate on getting as much information as you can from the person and recording their rendition as accurately as you can. Then when you analyze the oral history […]
When analyzing a genealogical record, determining if the item being viewed is an original or derivative source is one key component of that analysis. Sources are generally considered “original” if they are in their first form (or an accurate digital reproduction thereof). Derivative sources are ones that are transcriptions of other sources (derivative or not) or are a compilation of information from a variety of sources. Original sources can be wrong or right. The same goes for derivative sources. I once read “typed sources are derivative.” That’s not necessarily true. Marriage records from the late 1700s that are typed are an obvious transcription. A will from 1930 that is typed could very well be the original. The same of a birth certificate from 1930. Handwritten records can be […]
Normally in genealogical writing it is suggested that authors make it clear whether a location refers to a town/city or county. Clarity matters. Not all writers do that, partially because they think it’s “obvious” or don’t realize the possibility for confusion. A county-wide publication of biographies in the 1980s included a piece on a relative. The book appeared to be one of those where family members submit material, pay for their copy of the book, and it gets published. There is no copy-editing either for style or fact. That’s fine as long as the user of the material is aware of that. Being somewhat familiar with some of the areas discussed in the article, I knew the author was referring to a county even when that word was […]
We often think our own memory of genealogical records or discoveries we have made is infallible. It is not. In an attempt to put my grandson to sleep, I told him the “Pig Story.” It is a modified version of my teenaged ancestor’s discovery of his father’s murdered hogs in Kentucky in the 1810s. The parts about the hog being killed in the woods, the trail of blood in the snow, and the remaining body parts were omitted. The story I told was a cuter, shorter, child appropriate version that concentrated on the young boy’s discovery of the stolen hogs, their being kept in a barn, and the notches in their ears. The notch part was true. I went back to the original court records and discovered my […]
Ancestors do not live in isolation–after all, that’s how they come to have descendants. But it never ceases to amaze me how often extended family members migrate to where others from their family have settled. Siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, etc. In my own research it is rare for me to have an immigrant settle where absolutely no one from their family had already settled or eventually followed. The followers, particularly if they were the immigrants nieces or nephews may have arrived fifty years later, but the often eventually made their way across the pond. It was not just immigrants to a new country who tended to follow this pattern. Migrants across the United States often did the same thing. And if the other settlers were not […]
It is one thing to get your autosomal DNA results back and see a new first cousin, half-sibling, etc. That can be a surprise. But have you reached out to any of your siblings, first and second cousins, etc. to see if they have done an autosomal DNA test? If they have tested at the same company as you, then they should show up on your results list. Relatives that close, if they have an autosomal test at the same company as you, should show up on your results list. If they do not, there is a puzzle to be solved.
Transcribing wills, deeds, and other records is not done to create book work for genealogists. Even if records are obtained in digital image format, it is often easier to work with the text of a document. Transcription also helps the transcriber to notice more details contained in that document–particularly “little words” that can have significant meaning. Those small words can be easy to overlook when one just does a silent reading of a docuement. It is also easier to search the text of documents for key names, places, etc. when those documents have been typed. Take a look at what is on my genealogy bookshelf.
For your “brick wall” ancestor, do you know (or have any idea) how far they lived from: the county seat? the nearest church of their denomination? the nearest place they could get supplies or transact necessary business? the nearest “big city?” their nearest neighbor? the cemetery? the location where the nearest newspaper was published? a major river? The list here is not exclusive. If you’ve got no idea of the answers to these questions, determining those answers may help you solve your problem. Take a look at what is on my genealogy bookshelf.
The grantor on a deed is the person who is transferring their interest in the property to someone else. That person receiving the grantor’s title is the grantee. Deeds can have more than one grantor and more than one grantee. Deeds are usually local records–typically created at the county or town level (depending upon the location). There is usually a grantor’s index to the grantors and a grantee’s index to the grantees. Always make certain you are in the correct index–depending on whether you are looking for someone who is selling or someone who is buying (or receiving) property.
A 1792 deposition in an Amherst County, Virginia, court case refers to someone as acting as a “factor” for someone else. This usually means that they were authorized to sell goods for that person. In this case George Lambert had been authorized to sell goods for Peter McCarnon. This term has generally falled from usage.
If you are having difficulty transcribing place names in virtually any record used for your genealogy research, use maps of the location where the record was created (and surrounding areas) to help you determine those locations you cannot read. Sometimes letters or phrases are written so poorly that Google searches and other techiques do not help. Of course, this approach does not really help if the person moved around a great deal, but for those who stayed in the same general area, contemporary maps may assist you in transcribing those difficult to read place names.
Cataloging and titling things can be tricky, particularly when the items are unique manuscript items–diaries, letters, personal papers. Titles and descriptions of those things I always take with a grain of salt because I know that it can be difficult sometimes to categorize one-of-a-kind items. But titles can be wrong even with more standard records. Ancestry.com recently announced a database titled, “Iowa, U.S., Delayed Birth Records, 1856-1944.” Because of the title, I almost did not search it. My parents were born at the end of the year span covered, but I knew they did not have a delayed birth record. I went ahead and searched the database anyway. My parents were both in the database–with certificates recorded very promptly after their births and no “delayed” registration information included. […]
It can be tempting to transcribe a document one word at a time without moving on until each word or item has been transcribed. That can be a mistake a drain on your time. Sometimes things that are confusing on a first read will become clear when the entire document has been read or even when other pages in the same set of documents have been reviewed. Leave a space or [—] for those items that are seemingly illegible. Two or three hundred words later, it may make perfect sense.
I had a relative who wrote a memoir that extended from his childhood through his mid-thirties. It was a mixture of his personal experiences with some remembrances of family members thrown in. The problem was that, for one reason or another known only to himself, he ended up fictionalizing in several places. It is difficult to know where the truth ends and creative writing begins. It is like that with some family stories as well. Fiction gets added to make an ancestor sound a little more adventurous than she was. Your aunt thinks her life was dull so she adds a romantic adventure–complete with husband–that never took place. Your uncle’s memory begins to fade as he ages. Always write down the story as it was told to you–including […]
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