Knowing the Procedures

While it’s always advised to research extended family, the reality is that there simply is only so much time one can devote to certain problems. That said, why would one look at the US passport of an ancestral sister-in-law in the 1920s?

Because during that time period some women still derived their citizenship through their husband and knowing something about the passports issued during that time as well, I know that there’s a good chance the ancestral sister-in-law’s passport mentioned her husband.

And he’s the brother of the ancestor.

And that may help me on my actual problem.

Sometimes records on the in-laws are more likely to be of immediate assistance than others. And while an exhaustive search is always good…we all have limitations.

Federal Land Record Overview Webinar

Attend live or order recording–see below for details.

This session on 7 July 2022 will be an overview of United States Federal Land records, including:

  • Cash land sales
  • Military warrants
  • Homesteads
  • Preemption claims and more

Focus will be on how to determine if your relative had a complete or an incomplete federal land claim, how to locate the records, and what details are typically included in each file. This session is geared to those who have a basic understand of elementary land record terminology.

Our discussion will focus on the federal land acquisition process, the flow of paperwork, and how the process was completed. More people participated in federal land sales (either through outright purchase, military benefit, or other qualifying activities [ie. homesteading]) than people sometimes think.

Learn how to determine if your relative acquired federal land and how to access those records.

This session will be held live on 7 July 2022 at 3 PM central time. Live attendance is limited.


Changing for Appearance

My 3rd great-great-grandmother’s sister had a baby a few years before that same sister married her husband in the 1860s. Court records from the estate of the baby’s grandfather (the father of the sisters) make it clear that the grandparents raised the baby–not the baby’s father nor the baby’s mother and her subsequent husband.  The child grew to adulthood and have children of her own.

One researcher decided to change the  child’s date of birth, the couple’s date of marriage, and the baby’s last name in order to make it appear to be the husband’s child.

Report what you find, but don’t change what you locate in order to present a different story from the reality.

Trespassing to Get to Cemetery?

Some rural cemeteries, especially very small ones that are no longer used, may require crossing private property to access. If this is necessary, obtain permission from the landowner before attempting to access the cemetery. Cemeteries that are along a roadside or have public access are a different story, but there also may be restrictions about “visiting hours,” decorations that are allowed, etc.

A List of the “Not Mines”

There is my Benjamin Butler and then there are the other ones.

Mine was born about 1819 in New York State and is known to have lived in Michigan, Ontario, Iowa, and Missouri (and possibly a few other locations as well). There are other men of that same name who were of about the same age. I’m always encountering them when I’m looking through records on my Benjamin.

So I made a list of these other Benjamin Butlers and what I have about them–focusing on those who lived reasonably close to my Benjamin and were of about the same age.

I also made a note that there was a Benjamin Butler born in 1818 in New Hampshire who was eventually a governor of Massachusetts. His name comes up in a variety of newspaper searches due to his mention of his political activities.

All of that is done so that when I go back to work on my Benjamin after a break, I do not have to start from scratch.

Don’t Say It Is More than It Is

In 1858 a patron of my relative’s bar was killed in an altercation with a tenant who lived in an apartment next door. For years, I referred to the incident as a “murder.” The reference to the incident was inaccurate.  I should have referred to it as a “killing,” a “shooting,” or something similar.

Are you using the right word when referring to something?

Are you using a word that may be conveying a message that’s not entirely accurate?

And I actually need to review what charges were brought up against the shooter. Just because a newspaper called it murder does not mean that a court did.

13 Children in 1850

Your ancestral couple are enumerated in the 1850 US census with 13 children. Be careful drawing immediate conclusions–particularly because 1850 US census enumerations do not list the relationship of the individuals listed as living in the same household. Here are a few thoughts.

Do not jump the conclusion that the children all have to be the biological children of the apparent husband and wife.

Children living with a step-father during this time period may be enumerated with the step-father’s last name even if it that child never used that last name in other records.

The oldest man and woman enumerated are likely husband and wife. One or both of them may have had other spouses before 1850. An age gap may suggest the probable wife was his second, but age gaps between spouses should not cause you to conclude there was an earlier marriage.

Age gaps in the children may suggest a second marriage. They can also be because children died as well. A few older children could be younger siblings of the husband–it is possible that the “husband” was the oldest child in his family and that his parents are deceased or unable to care for their children who are much younger than their oldest child?

Are the ages of several children too close together? While children can be close together, six children in a five-year time span may suggest multiple marriages–or a set of twins (depending on the ages listed).

The key is to use such an enumeration to search for other records to flesh out details not given in the census–not to jump to an immediate conclusion and refuse to contemplate other reasonable scenarios.

Reminders from a DNA Match

One of my new DNA matches turned out to be the great-grandson of a distant relative who died recently. Since many of the individuals involved are living, I won’t go into the details of the search or the specifics of the family, but there are some reminders about DNA match analysis with this match.

Obituaries do not necessarily list all descendants. The great-grandmother (on the maternal side) of the match died in 2019. Her obituary indicated she had grandchildren (they are named) but does not reference great-grandchildren. It it possible that certain family members do not acknowledge the great-grandchild. To confuse the issue the paternal grandfather of the match was apparently adopted or raised by his step-father and uses that name. Until I reached that conclusion, the tree analysis was confusing.

Just don’t take everything at face value and do not jump to conclusions.