Heirs and Assigns Forever

I give this property to John Smith and his heirs and assigns forever.”
The phrase “heirs and assigns forever” means that John can “assign” (sell by deed or give by will) the property or, if he has not done that by his death, then John’s heirs will have title to the property (depending upon state statute and common legal practice at the time). 

That’s a rather simplified version of “heirs and assigns” forever, but “heirs” and “assigns” mean different things.

And the genealogist who doesn’t concern themself with the definitions runs the risk of drawing conclusions that are not necessarily true.

Were Those Adopted Children Related?

Don’t always assume that “adopted” children were unrelated to the family. There could have been some relationship between the adopted child and the parents. The child could have been the grandchild of the couple or a child of a sibling or other family member. But there’s also nothing saying that the adopted child was related either. It’s just something to think about.

Certification of Birth vs. Birth Certificate

A certification of birth is a document that certifies a record of the birth appears in the records of the local office authorized to record records of birth. It may contain a transcription of the entire document or just a portion of it. The certification is not intended to be a complete transcription of the original document. It just confirms that the record is on file.

A copy of the certificate of birth is usually an actual copy of the birth record. From the standpoint of genealogical research, it’s the preferred item to request.

The image contains part of the certification of birth and birth certificate for my late grandmother. The certification of birth contains spellings of her parents’ names that are not what appears to be on the certificate of birth. That’s due to either a transcription error, or in this case that the certification was created from information in a different record–perhaps a register of births that contained a summary of information that appeared on the actual birth certificate.

Issues such as this are why it is crucial to indicate in a source citation exactly what document is being cited. In this case, I need to see if there is a separate register of births for the time period when my grandmother was born. The birth number on the certification of birth is not the number that appears on the certificate of birth.

Naturalized Via the Parent?

When a man naturalized in the United States in the 19th and early 20th century, his minor children automatically became naturalized as well, even if their names are not listed in the naturalization. When foreign born Ekke Behrens applied for a homestead in Nebraska in the 1880s, he included his father’s naturalization as proof of his citizenship. This type of citizenship is often referred to as a derivative citizenship.

If you are unable to locate a naturalization for your foreign born ancestor, consider the possibility that his father’s naturalization served as his naturalization as well.

Lessor versus Lessee

If a document refers to your ancestor as the lessor on lease–he owns the property that is the subject of the lease. If your ancestor is referred to as the lessee, he is the person being given temporary use of the property. The lessor owns it, the lessee borrows it–generally speaking.

Records of leases usually are not kept by local record keeping agencies. Leases are usually only mentioned in local records when they are the subject of legal action over the terms of the lease or a conflict involving the property that was the subject of the lease. If there was such court action, a copy of the lease may be included with the court papers.

Census Clues to Property Ownership?

Remember there are several United States censuses that provide evidence of ownership of real property. Some ask for values of real property, others ask if the home was owned or rented. Documenting that land ownership through local land records may lead to additional information on your ancestor. Are you getting all the clues from the census?

Your Own Personal Use Copy

I’m a member of subscription sites that allow me to create links to images on their sites that requires me to have a subscription to access.
I don’t link to the images that are behind the “pay wall.” I download images of records that I need to my own media so that I always a copy of the image for personal use.

That way, if something ever happens or I don’t have access to the site any longer–I still have digital copies of the images I used.

Did It Really All Burn?

Don’t take “the courthouse burned” to mean that every record before that point in time was destroyed.

It might be that in reality, records from some offices survived, some offices’ records were not completely destroyed, etc. In some cases, records might have been “re-recorded” after the fire. There may also be state or federal records that provide similar information. Ask around.

Not Quite Written in English?

If you are using English-language records, is it possible that the writer slipped in a non-English word or a word in a non-English script? A native German speaker may have written in English only to occasionally slip in a German word out of habit? Or did a native Swede write a last name in his native script? That confusing word may be confusing because it’s not in English language or not in the English script.

Use the Bullnozer to Push the Mullable Roses in the Bnure Pile

Did your relative have such an odd way of saying a word or a phrase that a census taker or clerk would be hard-pressed to spell it correctly? The reason you are unable to find a name that’s clearly written on a record could be because your relative had a highly unusual way of saying it and the clerk simply did the best he could. The problem is compounded if the clerk was unfamiliar with your relative’s family and simply wrote what he heard. Clerks in small towns are more often to know what someone really means when the use their own unique pronunciation.

Today’s post title is how it would have sounded if my grandmother had said “Use the bulldozer to push the multiflora roses in the manure pile.”

The sentence I made up. The pronunciations I’m not.