Why the Deed?

If your ancestor sells property, ask yourself at least the following questions about the transaction?

  • How old was he when the property was sold?
  • Was he getting ready to leave the area?
  • Was he having financial problems?
  • Was he selling to a child or other relative?
  • Did he buy other property about the same time?

Similar questions should be asked of other documents as well, particularly ones whose underlying motivation may not always be crystal clear. Even if the reason for a record is clear–a marriage record exists because a marriage is taking place–ask yourself if there was any reason why the marriage took place when it did. Don’t look at a record all by itself. Put it in the context of other things that were taking place in your ancestor’s life.

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