Many record offices created indexes to their records as those items were recorded. These indexes are not perfect. They are not every name indexes. And just like with every index, names can get left out. But they do have some occasional advantages over new indexes created decades or centuries later to digital images of those records. The “original indexes” created by the clerk or office that recorded the record originally were often created by the person recording the item at the time it was recorded. The handwriting was not faded. They may have actually known the individuals involved and were better able to render the name in the index even if it was difficult to read on the original–particularly if the original was a birth certificate written by […]
We’ve released the recording and handout for my “Images on FamilySearch” webinar. More details have been posted on our announcement page. If you pre-ordered and have not received your materials, contact me at the email address on your receipt.
My aunt Wilhelmina (Trautvetter) Kraft died in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, in the latter part of the 19th century. She was born in 1808 in Dorf Allendorf, Germany. She died without enough of an estate to warrant a probate, had no obituary, or other record in the area where she died suggesting that she had children. The name of her Kraft husband was known and it was assumed that they had been married at least twenty years when she died. Turned out she had a husband before she emigrated from Germany to the United States. They were married at least twelve years and had five children who survived to adulthood. She and Mr. Kraft were married for twenty years, but all her children were with her first husband […]
Indexes and other finding aids that are created to assist the researcher in locating someone are imperfect. Names are spelled wrong, transcribed incorrectly, accidentally omitted, etc. In most cases, it is possible to search the records manually to make certain the person is really not in the record. Do not rely on an index to contain every person actually named in a record series with every name spelled correctly. Original records may have been partially indexed by the body who originally held the records or organized in such a way that may partially reduce the number of pages that have to be manually waded through. I plan on researching the 1950 census manually when it goes online in April 2022. I’ll start with my rural people and then […]
Some records were created before an event took place, usually in preparation for the event itself. The issuance of a marriage license does not guarantee that the marriage ever took place. The announcement of marriage banns also is not evidence of the actual marriage. Even a church bulletin announcing my baptism that day in church does not guarantee it took place. It does indicate the event was planned and scheduled for that day. And, in all likelihood, it did take place. But if one document said something was going to happen and other reliable information indicated that event did not happen, remind yourself that not every event intended to be actually comes to pass.
A man and woman had four children “without benefit of marriage” in the 1790s in Virginia. This relationship necessitated documentation of the relationship in order for the children to inherit from the father. That’s not the tip. The mother of the four children testified in the 1820s to their relationship to their father–that’s not expected. To strengthen their case another woman testified to the parentage at the same time. If there was a relationship of this woman to the family it is not stated. But she had at the very least known of the relationship between the man and woman during the time the children were born–she testifies to that. This woman is one who warrants further research. While she may not have had any biological relationship to […]
We have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating… Don’t assume that online site will “always be there” and you can always go and get what you need. Make a copy of that image for yourself while you have it on your screen. Save the information while you have access to it. Websites go down. Fee-based websites sometimes lose the ability to include certain items in their subscription. Websites change how things are organized and what you could find a month ago is impossible to find. Your cousin could remove their online tree from that hosting site. You may find yourself unable to continue to pay for that monthly subscription to that database site that includes images. Save it while you can. Name it in a way that […]
Analyzing DNA matches can sometimes be confusing. One issue is the bits of shared DNA that get passed down through the succeeding generations of the family. The visual with my ancestor Erasmus Trautvetter’s simplifies the genetic process, but serves to illustrate what potentially could happen. Among all the DNA Erasmus had in his body, let’s focus on two chunks: chunk 1 and chunk 2. Only chunk 1 is passed down to son Henry. Chunks 1 and 2 are passed down through son George and chunk 2 is passed down through daughter Ernestine. Henry passes chunk 1 to one of his descendants. George’s chunk and 2 are passed down through several generations until another George. The second George passed chunk 1 down to all of his descendants, but I […]
I was looking for two “missing” grandsons of an ancestral couple who married in Germany in the 1790s. The men had the common name of Hess and while I knew where they lived shortly after immigration to the United States they seemed to have dropped off the radar after 1855 or so when they would have been in their early twenties. They were alive until at least 1871 when they were heirs to an estate in Illinois. Those records indicated they were alive, but that one could not be found. The records provided no clues as to where the one who could be found was living. If they lived until 1871 they would have been in their forties and old enough to have left their own descendants. Then […]
When I was small, “What hamp?” was my phrase when I wanted to know what was going on. As a genealogist, I’m still asking it. Documents and records are usually created in response to some event. For vital records, the event taking place should be obvious. Probate records are also the result of an obvious event. But the precipitating event behind other documents may not be quite so obvious. An quit claim deed listing all the heirs may have resulted from the death of a surviving parent or the youngest heir coming of age and finally being able to legally execute a document. A partition of an estate may have resulted from one heir needing money from the estate or a group of the heirs having disagreement about […]
Due to a scheduling issue, we’ve moved the FamilySearch webinar to 28 Sept. at 7:30 pm. central time. Recordings will also be available for those who cannot attend live. Details on our announcement page.
My ancestor was born in Kentucky, most likely in 1818 or 1819. I’m not certain of the year. I may never be certain of the year and there is actually little chance that I ever find a reasonably reliable record containing his precise date of birth. And that’s just fine. It’s also the reality of this time period and location. There were no civil records of births when he was born in Kentucky. No bible record has been located. He was not in the military so there’s no service record, enlistment papers, or benefit application that could be helpful either. The family was not a member of a church that kept any sort of records of dates of birth–or even ages. The ancestor died in the 1880s in […]
Getting the Most from FamilySearch 7:30 pm. central 28 Sept 2021 (note date/time change). Attend live (handout included) or pre-order recording and handout–registration information below. The FamilySearch site contains images of records from around the world—most available right from your internet connection. This presentation will focus on the actual records that are on FamilySearch and the finding aids that have been created to some of those records. We will not be discussing the online trees in this session and will concentrate on the “digital microfilm” and how that information can be navigated and used for your research. We will break the material down into two large categories: indexed and unindexed digital records. Presentation will be made by Michael John Neill and will include: Generalized search strategy. It is […]
Ancestry, FamilySearch, and other online genealogical data storehouses attempt to make it easier to “grow your tree” by allowing the user to directly import a transcription from a record into an “event” for a person in their tree. It truly makes it “point and click” easy to add events and locations to an online tree. It’s the reason why many online trees indicate my great-grandmother died in Wapello County, Iowa instead of Lee County, Iowa (because the location was transcribed incorrectly). It’s the reason why ancestor Focke Goldenstein is listed as having a variety of “first names” of which several stem from incorrect transcriptions of records (some come from his name being spelled wrong, which is a slightly different problem). Read the original record before including something from […]
Every date you enter for your ancestor’s life needs to have a source. That includes dates that are estimated. If you are using the fact that a man got married without permission on 2 June 1891 when the age for a man in that location to get married without permission was twenty-one as evidence for his date of birth, then indicate that. In this case, you should state he was born before 3 June 1870, cite the marriage record (and in your notes explain the age requirement and the fact that no permission was given–it might even be a good idea to read quite a few other records besides those of the ancestor to see if any of them do have permission notated). If you are using an […]
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