Death in a Short Term Location?

I’ve been searching a database of deaths in Illinois in the mid-20th century. While searching this database, I have to constantly remind myself of where people in “my county” were likely to die if they did not die in “my county.” The two most likely places were nearby hospitals and state institutions. In my case, most out of county hospital deaths took place in one of three nearby cities. Those cities were located in different counties.

A significant number of deaths took place in a state institution eighty miles a way which was located in a county that was not adjacent to the county of interest.

In addition to institutions it is always possible that your relative died in the hospital, nursing home, or institution that was near a close relative and quite a distance away from the “home location.”

Search NewsBank’s GenealogyBank for your ancestors.

The Importance of Location

Places change over time. While I am not necessarily an advocate of saving every landscape picture a genealogist has, there are times where saving the picture preserves an image of buildings and other improvements that may not be around in fifty or one hundred years.

Picture facing south taken across the road from where I grew up.
My archival image includes road address, GPS coordinates, approximately when picture was taken and which direction I was facing.

But when images of places are preserved, record information about precisely where the item was taken–at least with as much detail as you have. Include at least:

  • date of photo–or approximation
  • address of location at time photograph was taken if known and if there was even an address
  • GPS coordinates if known
  • direction facing when photograph was taken

Also include how that information was obtained, who provided it, and when.

This image is one I discovered while using my new slide and negative  scanner to scan my parents’ photographic negatives. I’m scanning all the negatives, but not necessarily saving every image of every negative. This is one image I am saving as I don’t have any other pictures of this location from this perspective.

Do not assume buildings will always be standing, roads will always be gravel, telephone lines will be above ground, etc. Things change.

Search NewsBank’s GenealogyBank for your ancestors.

Could Tax Lists Answer Your Question?

Local tax lists, both of personal and real property, could provide some information to assist in your genealogical search. Local tax records in the United States are most often county or town records, although there are exceptions. Many tax records, particularly those in the United States before the Civil War have been microfilmed and eventually digitized.

Tax records are generally organized geographically, but there can be variation from one location to another and from one time period to another. It is important to understand who was subject to taxes during the time period and what property was taxed during that time period.

One advantage to tax records is that they are available in non-census years and fewer people tend to be overlooked. The disadvantage is that they only list people who were subject to taxation. Some of them have been indexed and some of them have not.

Your search for local tax records should include: the FamilySearch catalog for the areas where your ancestor lived, the appropriate state archives or historical library, and the local county courthouse.

Thanks to reader ds whose email reminded me that it had been a while since these records had been mentioned.

One Piece of Evidence

There is a picture of my Dad in his early 70s with a hog in the back of his livestock trailer. My Dad farmed his entire life so pictures with livestock are not uncommon.

One might be tempted to think, based upon the picture, that my Dad raised hogs on his farm at that point in his life. The picture would seem to potentially suggest that. That was not the case.

My Dad had not raised hogs in over twenty-five years when the photo was taken of him with a hog in his livestock trailer. He had won the hog by guessing its weight in a contest sponsored by a local business and was picking the pig up after the contest was over.

When analyzing a piece of information, genealogical or otherwise, think about what it means and what it does not mean. Another clue is that I only have one picture of my Dad with a hog. I have many pictures clearly taken over decades of cattle. That’s more suggestive than one picture of a hog.

Switched at Census Time?

Did the census taker reverse the first and last names? It can happen with anyone, but the possibility increases if the individual’s name is in a foreign language and they are a recently arrived immigrant. This man’s name was Focke Meyer, but he was listed as last name Focke and first name Myer.

Waiting on the Name

From a few years back…

Children were not always named immediately. While modern practice is to name children at birth (if not before), this was not always the case for one reason or another. It is not uncommon to see “unnamed” or “baby” as the first name on a birth certificate. A couple may have waited until they could arrange for a christening to name the baby, because they could not decide, or other reasons.

This post on our sister site looks at possible unnamed children in the 1880 United States census.

Lubbe, Habbe, and Pabe

Because of naming patterns and patronymics, four generations of one of my family contains numerous male family members whose first names are either Lubbe, Habbe, or Pabe and whose last names are either Lubben, Habben, or Paben. It can be extremely confusing and they are easy to either mix up or merge into one wrong compilation.

Church records for the area of Germany where this family is from are fairly extant. For this reason, I have avoided using online trees and compilations unless I have personal knowledge of the researcher’s ability to be thorough and meticulous. Even then anyone can make a mistake. Using the church records myself is an excellent way to go although it is tedious and time consuming.

I’ve made a chart listing the family members showing their relationship to the others. This chart includes parent child relationships (using lines); years of birth, death, and marriage; and abbreviations for locations of those events. An alphabetical list of members of the family is also helpful as is an alphabetical list of spouses.

How Many?

How many pictures do you need to pass to the next generation? Will your children, grandchildren, and so on really want two hundred vacation pictures of beaches and other scenery that contain no image of a human? Will they really need fifty snapshots taken of a birthday party for a one-year old opening every gift?

Saving that one picture you have of your great-grandmother is one thing. Saving the three hundred negatives of pictures taken at a family barbeque may be something else. Saving the digital scans of those family barbeque pictures may be more manageable.

When you have a handful of images for a person, the decision to save is not difficult. When you have one photo of a great-great-grandparent, there is no decision: save. But when you have hundreds of images of one person (some of which may be very similar), how many slides, negatives, and photos can you save? How many can you realistically expect your children or grandchildren to continue saving after you are gone?

Just something to think about.

Yes, I am scanning my parents’ and grandparents’ negatives, slides, and pictures using a scanner I purchased. But there are more originals than I can potentially expect my children to keep in boxes and pass on to their children to keep in more boxes. What to save is something I have to keep in mind.

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