If your relative died under suspicious circumstances, there may have been an inquest into their death. These records, in the United States, typically start in the late 19th century, but there are exceptions. Generally they are local (city or county) records and they may or may not be available online. Testimony of witnesses and doctors may be included. That testimony may give additional insight not only into the death, but also the life, of your relative.
Your relative may not have written the “Great American Novel” or otherwise noteworthy fiction, but it’s possible he or she wrote something else that was published. Old newspapers may have contained a letter from your ancestor (either as a letter to the editor or as a “local correspondent). Trade publications may have contained a “how to” or career-based article written by your ancestor or about your ancestor. Publications of social or fraternal organizations may have also contained some of your ancestor’s writings. Digital images of newspapers are available on a variety of online sites, both free and fee-based. Other publications may be available digitally at Google Books, Archive.org, or other archives of digital images of out-of-copyright publications.
Be open to the possibility that more members of a family immigrated than you think. Family tradition was that an ancestral couple married in Switzerland and then migrated to the United States in the early 1850s where others of his family had settled as adults. Seemed like a very reasonable story. Turns out that the wife immigrated as a child with her parents and that her future husband immigrated as an adult from a nearby village with members of his own family. She was not the only one from her family to immigrate as the family tradition seemed to suggest.
The person who submits a photo of your ancestor to FindAGrave, FamilySearch, or any other site may potentially know absolutely nothing about your ancestor. It is very possible they found the photo while browsing the internet (often obituary pages, but not necessarily), saved it (with no citation), and uploaded it. Consider a reverse image search at Google to see if you can find other locations where the image is posted–perhaps by someone with more knowledge about your ancestor or perhaps where the image was posted originally.
A reminder, based on today’s adventures in my own life–do not trust your memory. Write things down. You will forget.
Early in my research, I was unaware that my 3rd great-grandmother had two husbands with whom she had children and that I descended from her first marriage. There was a clue in their estate records. A big one. The 3rd great-grandmother and her husband died a few years apart and their estates were settled separately. The notice of “impending probate” listed more heirs for the 3rd-great-grandmother than the one did for her husband. A daughter and children of a deceased daughter were mentioned in her probate, but not in that of her husband. No heir or family member died between the death of the 3rd great-grandmother and her husband. At the time all heirs should have been notified. The fact that they had different heirs, technically “heirs-at-law,” was […]
A reminder: Don’t just grab the first record that seems to match the names of the individuals for whom you are looking and assume that it’s the “right people.” It may or may not be them. There can be husband and wife couples with the same or similar names living in the same country, state, county, parish, etc.–particularly if the names are relatively common. Those couples can be unrelated to each other, particularly if the geographic distance is significant. They couple be cousins of the couple of interest–which still means that you’ve got the “wrong people” just wrong people who are related. Records in the United States all indicate that my Irish immigrant forebears were in Canada by the mid-1860s and that they started having children by the […]
From a while back… While viewing a newspaper account of a relative’s accidental death in 1906, I noticed a reference to a woman’s murder in an adjacent county. She was shot by her husband. Somewhat curious, I decided to do a little “quick” online research into the woman and her husband. She was mentioned in quite a few online trees, but none referenced her short marriage to her husband or the circumstances of her death. It was easy to see in this case why nothing else had been located: The woman was born after 1880 and in 1900 was living with her parents. By 1910 she was dead. Her tombstone does not mention her husband’s name–just the names of her parents. The marriage records for the county where […]
Thanks for being a part of Genealogy of the Day! We appreciate our readers and followers. Feel free to let others know about our blog and email or just give us a shout out to let us know that you are there! Good luck with your research! Michael
A distant cousin of mine used the name “Hobby.” I knew that his immigrant parents had likely actually named him “Habbe” and that “Hobby” was the spelling he used because that’s how his name sounded to an American ear. My first reference to a relative in the US was as “Jede.” I know that her name was most likely “Tjede” because that name was more common in her ethnic group and would have sounded like “Jede” (or perhaps “Chede”) to an untrained ear. If your ancestor has an atypical name and you are aware of their ethnic group or linguistic history, ask someone familiar with the language what the name could have been in their original tongue. That may help you to find them in records of the […]
Not every relative to whom you reach out will respond to your genealogy request. Some individuals maybe busy with immediate family concerns or unable to respond to your request for other reasons. Others, for a variety of reasons, may have no interest in their family history or any desire to communicate with family members. Accept this and work with those who are interested. Others may eventually come around or they may not. But that’s their decision.
A reminder… I’m working on a man named Andrew Trask who had a sons Edward and George and a daughter Harriet. There is a man named George living near where he did in the 1840s who can’t be his father, but that George had a daughter Harriet. That George had a brother Edward and a sister Harriet. There’s enough name “connection” to make me think that my Andrew probably has a connection to this family, but that name connection is not proof. Just a clue that I need to follow.
Don’t immediately assume that the child your ancestors adopted was not related to them in some way. Depending upon their ages and the ages of their own children, that child could actually be a grandchild. Others may have adopted a niece, nephew or other relative. Adoptions can impact the DNA matches of any descendant of the child who was adopted. If descendants of the adopted child are DNA matches for some descendants of that child’s adopted siblings, consider the possibility that the adoption was “in the family” in one way or another. Get Genealogy Tip of the Day–the book–for $17. Details about the book here.
I had quite a few relatives who homesteaded in Dawson County, Nebraska, in the 1880s. I have created maps that show the relative position of their homesteads.  An uncle lived in the same county, but came a few years later and purchased his property from a landowner instead of homesteading it. I never bothered to see where his property was located.  Turns out it was across the road from where his nephew homesteaded.  Always map out those properties.  Get Genealogy Tip of the Day–the book–for $17. Details about the book here.
Libraries, archives, historical societies, and other organizations that hold records sometimes have materials that have been uncatalogued and uninventoried. It takes time, patience, and skill to sort, organize, and track materials that have been donated. Even groups that have sorted and organized their materials may not submit them to online cataloging systems such as WorldCat. The only way to learn of the collection is to contact the organization directly. Some smaller societies may not even include such materials on their website. After you have read what a library, society, or archives has listed on their website, consider reaching out to ask them if they have materials in their collection that are not listed on their website or in their inventories. You might be surprised at what they have. […]
Get the Genealogy Tip of the Day Book