Have you thought about keeping a list of place names you encounter in a specific geographic area so that you don’t have to search for them every time you find a reference to them? I have several maps for the county where I grew up and for various other areas where family members lived. When looking at maps for one specific area, many have the same place names listed. But there is some variation in which place names are on which map, depending upon the time period and the purpose. I’ve also encountered references to place names in newspapers and other print sources. A list of place names in a specific region, their location (as specific as I can get), the time period, and the source of the […]
I recently discovered an 1860-era map for a county where I have researched family for decades. One of the place names listed on it was new to me. A search of the United States Geological Survey place names database in the United States did not include a reference to it nor did the county histories I have saved digitally. So it just goes to show you that there is always something to learn and that it never hurts to look at “one more item” even when you think there’s nothing there you have not already seen. It is also possible as well that the place name reference is incorrect and was the result of some error.
Is there something in your files that you have only looked at one or two times? Have you looked at the entire thing–including every minute detail? Today I looked one more time at historical topographical maps on the United States Geologic Survey website and discovered a road on the map that I did not know existed and which suggested that at one point in time there may have been a house where I did not know one existed. The historical topographic maps are available at https://livingatlas.arcgis.com/topoexplorer/index.html
If a metes and bounds description for a piece of real estate indicates that the property line goes “with the meanders” of a certain stream or creek, it means that that portion of the property line is not straight but follows the waterway.
From a while back… People move–sometimes further than one really expects. Emma Cawiezell was a native of Davenport, Iowa, who went to New York City to become an actress around 1892. She died there a year later. There were no family stories about her travelling to New York City and it took me a while to find her. People sometimes leave their comfort zone searching a new career, a new life, or greener pastures? Is it possible that your relative “up and moved” in some atypical fashion? Most of the Cawiezells were farmers in rural Scott County, Iowa. I never dreamed one of them ended up in New York. I still have room in both of my group research trips this summer. Our trip does not include a […]
Old deeds or surveys taken in metes and bounds states may have individuals listed besides the grantors, grantees, and witnesses. There may be individuals listed with “cc” or “cb” listed after their name. Chain carriers or chain bearers helped the surveyor by carrying the measuring chain. These individuals generally had to swear an oath, had to be of legal age, and some times were relatives of the surveyor. “CC” on an old deed does not mean “Carbon Copy.” [That was an attempt at humor.]
When analyzing information an individual provided for a record or document, consider their mental acuity at the time. Is it possible that their memory had started to deteriorate? Did they have “good days” and “bad days?” It’s always good to consider how reasonable it is that an informant had first hand accurate knowledge of information. It’s also worth considering if the information was provided at a time when their memory may not have been at its best.
If your relative’s last name is a word that is easily translated (such as a color or an occupation), is it possible that some records refer to him by that translated version of his name? Was your ancestor with the last name of White actually a German with a different original such as Weiß? Was your ancestor with the last name of Baker actually a Spaniard with the last name of Panadero?
Sometimes it can be easy to overlook those relatives who left no descendants of their own. They also have their stories to tell and those stories are just as important as those of relatives who left families of their own. A 1908 horse accident left Mary Trautvetter with her legs broken in three places, a broken arm, and other injuries.  Her sister, Anna, was injured as well–but not as severely. It’s possible that the injuries from the accident impacted Mary for the rest of her life. Mary never married. Her sister Anna (Trautvetter) McMahon died in the 1920s and Mary raised Anna’s daughter who was left orphaned by the death of both her parents. Mary died in 1962 and is buried in the Lutheran Cemetery in Warsaw, Hancock […]
Really getting into these things takes some time, but here are some general things to remember when you are “stuck:” Money and work motivate people to move and people are sometimes more mobile than we think-especially if opportunities were limited in the area where the person was living. Create a timeline of all events in your ancestor’s life. Gaps of more than a few years are opportunities for research. Lots of things can happen in two or three years. Do you really know what you think you know? How do you know it? Did you assume when you should not have? Do you know where that source came from? Could you be wrong? Are you familiar with all sources in the area–civil (all levels of government) and private records?
From a while back… We’ve made a list of some assumptions that genealogists make. Here are a few. We will add your suggestions to a longer list which we’ll post later. The county history was right. That my grandparents actually got married. That my grandma was my grandpa’s first wife. That my relative was an immigrant. That my relative was born in the United States. That the entire death certificate was right. That grandma had a tombstone. That my grandparents were buried next to each other. That no one in my family got divorced. That the old genealogy was right–I just haven’t found the proof yet. That my family was never in court. That my family never appeared in the newspaper. Add your own thoughts in the comments. […]
This is the corrected URL for the research trip to Ft. Wayne:
Some relatives are reluctant to talk to the family genealogist for fear that every detail of a family skeleton or scandal will be broadcast for the world to hear. Ask yourself if you really need to know every detail of every family squabble. It may be sufficient to know that two uncles fought over money when their father died and never spoke again. It may be sufficient to know that a mother and daughter didn’t speak for the last twenty years of the mother’s life without going into excruciating detail of exactly what precipitated the falling out. Sometimes, if the person to whom you are talking actually “lived through the family drama,” it may be difficult to get answers to questions because the entire situation is painful. Tread lightly. “Drama” […]
Searching female ancestors in many countries is complicated by the female adopting the last name of her husband at her marriage. Think about those things that do not change when trying to search for that female relative after her marriage: her first and, if she has one, middle names her date and place of birth her parents–she may have lived near them after her marriage. They may have lived with her in their old age. the names of her brothers–she may have lived near them after her marriage the names of her unmarried sisters–they may have lived with her at some point in their lives. All of these can be ways to search finding aids to some records in your attempts to find the missing married female ancestor.
I still have room in both of my group research trips this summer. Our trip does not include a bunch of non-genealogy activities and our registration fees are low. Time away devoted just to research can be a great way to get your genealogy research started. Additional details are on our announcement pages: Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana  Family History Library in Salt Lake City
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