These two checks were written by my grandfather in the spring of 1941. They appear to have been written to pay for the medical expenses from the birth of his son Keith (my Dad) who was born in April of 1941. Dr. C. A. Runyon signed Dad’s birth certificate which indicated he was born in St. Joseph’s hospital. That’s a strong connection. The checks were located in a envelope that was tucked in a scrapbook of photographs, newspaper clippings, and other paper ephemera that included or mentioned my Dad. That’s another clue suggesting the purpose of the checks. The dates on the checks were also interesting and remind us that the dates documents are executed or recorded can also be a clue. Dad was born on 14 April […]
Stopping because you have located one record is never a good idea. By keeping on going, I discovered that an ancestor was divorced from the same man not once, but twice. By keeping on going, I also discovered that another relative’s first marriage “didn’t happen” and they were actually married two years later. Combine these unusual circumstances with the occasional record that gets entered or indexed late and you have even more reason to look for entries or documents “after you think you should.”
A good genealogy activity is to see if you can determine who the unnamed relatives are in an obituary–particularly if the number of grand and great-grandchildren are mentioned. Of course these totals can be wrong, but an attempt at “proving” the number may lead to some discoveries. And if pallbearers are mentioned, determine if they had a relationship to the deceased. Both of these activities may lead you to some new pieces of information.
We need to make assumptions in our genealogy research. Many times assumptions are necessary in order to get our work off the ground. But after a point, it may be that the assumption is hindering our work or that we have forgotten that an assumption was made. If you are guessing that the parents were married near where the first child was born, that is a good start. But somewhere in your notes, indicate why you believe where they were married and that you have no proof. If research does not validate your assumption, it may be that your assumption was incorrect. And if you enter your assumption in your genealogical database as fact, it can be very difficult for that information to go back to being an […]
Before interviewing relatives who were alive at the time of the 1940 census, try locating them in that record. Note the names of neighbors and ask your relative about these individuals. Giving your interviewee specific names may help to jog memories and get them to recall events they might not otherwise have thought about. This is helpful even if the person was not alive in 1940. Neighbors might have been neighbors for decades and even if the person did not know the former neighbors personally they might remember hearing their name mentioned. Anything that might help jog a memory is good.
When analyzing a record or set of materials that does not make sense, get away from what you “want to prove” and try to think “what do these documents really say?” You may find that they do not say what you think they do. And not every record says what we want or expect it to say. Sometimes our preconceived notions are what is getting in the way.
When using a record set with which you are not familiar, think about how someone gets into the record, how the  information in the record is obtained, how the record is organized, and how the original  record got from its original state to you. Do not just “guess” or assume that how things work today is how they necessarily worked one hundred years ago. All if these issues get to how we use and analyze the information contained in the record.
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