Initial letters or prefixes of names can be intentionally or inadvertently omitted, with: Knight becoming Night Hoffman becoming Aufmann O’Neill becoming Neill MacArthur becoming Arthur Van De Burg becoming Berg etc. Is it possible a first letter or two was dropped when your name of interest was entered in a record?  Check out my 1950 census preparation webinar-1 April is coming up!
Put every event in context. If your ancestor sells property, ask yourself: how old was he? was he getting ready to leave the area? was he having financial problems? was he selling to a child or other relative? is he “setting his estate” before he dies? did he buy other property about the same time? 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. Some of these situations will result in other records–additional land deeds, court records, etc.. Selling all land before death may be the reason you cannot find a probate for him or her.
Join me on 10 March to learn more about your US farming ancestors or see our US land records class or 1850-1940 Census Analysis. Details are on our post.
When taking pictures of tombstones that have inscriptions on more than one side, make it clear that the inscriptions are all on the same physical tombstone. Label the images–back, front, left side, right side, etc.–perhaps by appending that phrase to the file name of the stone: immanual_cemetery_fred_smith_stone-front immanual_cemetery_fred_smith_stone-back immanual_cemetery_fred_smith_stone-left immanual_cemetery_fred_smith_stone-right etc. Also consider taking pictures to make it obvious the inscriptions are all on the same stone. This is especially important for stones that may have inscriptions for separate family members on each side–particularly if some of those relatives have different last names. Don’t leave clues behind at the cemetery.
Join me on 10 March to learn more about your US farming ancestors or see our US land records class or 1850-1940 Census Analysis. Details are on our post.
If information from two or more records is inconsistent, and even when it isn’t, ask yourself, “which items am I really certain are actually about my ancestor?” Is there a deed that might not be his? Is there a census enumeration (especially before 1850) that might actually be for someone else? Am I using someone else’s conclusion that these two records are for the same person when they might not be? Consider each source or record you think refers to your ancestor and contemplate what really makes you think that. Actually write down your reasons. You might realize that there is a record or two that might not really be for the person you are researching. And that may be causing your confusion.
If a document or record does not make any sense, if someone seems to appear out of nowhere, if someone seems to disappear without a trace, brainstorm on all the possible things that could have been going on at the time. Make a list. Don’t worry about how likely or realistic they are. Then, when you are completely out of ideas, think about: the ones that are too far-fetched or unrealistic–I eliminate these first. the ones you could never prove the ones that are the most likely the ones that might have left records. The four categories above are not mutually exclusive. Start with the situations that are most likely and might have left behind some sort of record. Work to find those records, but remember you are […]
There is no doubt that digital images of out of copyright books can be a great way to immediately access those items. But there are materials that are not digitized, are not out of copyright, or are otherwise not available online immediately. WorldCat is a global online library card catalog. It includes traditional print materials and archival materials in special collections. Some materials may not be available for interlibrary loan or subject to other access restrictions. But WorldCat is a great way to learn about these materials. Links to a few sample searches (of subject headings); Plat books for Harford County, Maryland Histories of Coshocton County, Ohio Immigration into Illinois The Advanced Search page on WorldCat can also be a great place to do some experimentation.
During that time period when travel was difficult for most people, the location of where a marriage took place matters–not just because it is where the record of that marriage would have been recorded (if records were kept). That place matters because, again during that time when most travel was on foot, the place of marriage was often near where the couple met or where the bride was from (sometimes both). While it was not always the case and there are always exceptions, if you know the place of marriage for a couple in 1820 in Kentucky, chances are there are relatives of the bride, groom, or both nearby. There is still a chance in 1920, but the probability is not as great as it was in 1820. […]
The handout was not linked for those attending this session on 4 March 2022 at Rootstech. The PDF can be downloaded here. Video is viewable here.
The 1930s era estate settlement of a paternal great-grandfather’s unmarried female first cousin indicated she held a mortgage on property owned by a maternal great-great-grandfather’s brother. They did live in the same county, but they were not neighbors, did not attend the same church, had different ethnic backgrounds, etc. I could assume that they “had to have” some connection with each other, but was at a loss for what it was. It was not until I saw an advertisement placed by a county seat attorney who was also working as a loan broker that the connection dawned on me. What they most likely had in common was the loan broker. His ad indicated he had “money to lend.” As an attorney in the county seat, he would have […]
If your ancestors moved or immigrated with their children, is it possible that an older child stayed behind without making the journey with his or her parents? The oldest child in a family may have been married or gainfully employed when his or her parents decided to move. Sometimes these children would eventually settle where their parents did, but often they did not. One relative and his three youngest children moved from upstate New York to Chicago in the very early 1900s. His two oldest daughters remained in New York. Don’t assume the entire family moved together.
This post on my other blog, “What I Know I Know” has some thoughts on some facts that I know that happened before my time. Some food for thought when we see a county biography or genealogy published in 1880 that references things that happened 100 years before the book was published.
This is your periodic reminder to check those images when you have the item in front of you. I found two photographs in an envelope on which my great-grandmother had written the identification. I took an overview shot of the envelope and the pictures and then took enlargements of the two photographs. The items were in my storage unit and I put them back and left the unit before I returned home. It was when reviewing the photographs that I discovered when I moved to get an enlargement of the photo in front of the Shangri-La that I moved and the resulting glare from a light caused me to lose whatever was on the door. In this case, I will simply have to go back and get a […]
Are you only using certain records in your search? Are there souces you do not use because you think they are too difficult to use or because you are unfamiliar with them? If so, you may be limiting the amount of information you find and leaving a significant part of your ancestor’s story untold. Ignoring deeds if your ancestors were farmers is a mistake, land records may provide migration and other clues not evidenced in other records. Even city dwellers might have owned a small city lot and how that lot was dealt with after the owner’s death could provide you with good information. And assuming your ancestors weren’t the kind of people to end up in court records is a bad one to make. Over half of […]
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