Getting Impressions

This impression made by the photographer on a picture of my grandmother–or perhaps that of her mother–was almost overlooked when I made a digital image of the photograph. I made the best image I could of the photograph (not shown here) and the stamp.

The name of the photographer may help me to date the photograph.

Make certain you get all the information a picture has…even things where no ink or pencil has been used. Any clue could be helpful.

Another Reason to do the Deed

Research in local land records can sometimes be tedious. Occasionally the work is worth the reward.

One reason for looking at all those land transactions of your ancestor is that sometimes the legal description of the property being transferred references other transactions on that same piece of property. Previous owners may be mentioned. How your ancestor came to acquire the property may also be included with the description of the property’s location. Most land deeds do not include this information.

But you do not know if you do not research all those records. Sometimes, always for legal reasons (usually to clarify title or property lines) some history of the property may be stated in a later transaction covering that property. Those details may mention additional family members, ancestors, or relationships of which you are unaware.

Federal Land Warrants Versus Land Patents

From a while back…

When searching the Bureau of Land Management website, make certain you remember the general difference between a federal land warrant and a federal land patent.  A federal land warrant is good for a specific acreage of property in the federal domain–without stating precisely where the property is at. A federal land patent is a document that transfers title in a specific piece of property from the federal government to an individual.

Clarity and Typos

No matter how clearly you think you have written something, it is always possible that the chosen words convey a message other than the one you intended.

No matter how often you proofread something, there is always the chance that an error in grammar, fact, or other wise has slipped through.

It never hurts to have someone else read your prose or to let it sit for one more day before give that final read.

Deeds After Mother Dies

If your male ancestor died before his wife and owned real property at the time of his death, there might have been a deed drawn up by the heirs after the widow died to transfer property to new ownership. If the property was being transferred among the family of the widow, the usual mechanism would have been a quit claim deed. If the property was being sold outside the family, a warranty deed was the usual legal instrument used.

A quit claim deed is one where the grantors are giving up their claim to the property. A warranty deed is one where the grantors are guaranteeing to own the property being transferred and is usually used for transfers out of the family.

No matter which deed is used, it may not mention the widow or her death at all.

If You are Uncertain

The picture was located in a scrapbook of photographs, newspaper clippings, and school related items belonging to my father. It was unidentified, but to me–admittedly probably sixtysome years after it was taken–they looked like Neills.

My identification of the picture is uncertain. It may be wrong. But I do not want to lose what information I do have about the picture. I should have added to the text that the “possible” identification was made by Michael Neill. That’s not clear on the text I placed at the bottom of the image.

I should have said “These individuals are possibly the grandchildren of Charles and Fannie (Rampley) Neill of West Point, Illinois. This speculation was made by Michael John Neill based on faces of children in the picture.”

Speculation may be wrong. Speculation may be correct. It also may be somewhere in between. But if it is not recorded, it can be lost forever.

Chronologies and Context

My second great-grandmother lived with her maternal grandparents from about the age of eight until shortly before her marriage. I initially assumed it was because her own parents had so many children. While that may have been a part of it, there likely was more.

I’m not certain when she began living with her grandparents, but after learning more about her grandparents’ family I discovered that there were several things that took place about the same time she began living with them:

  • Her mother’s younger sister had a child whom the grandparents raised from birth.
  • All of her grandparents children were out of the house with their own families.
  • Her grandfather’s mother moved in with her grandparents.

Those three things may have played a role in why gg-grandma remained with her grandparents–or at least why she came to live with them initially. The grandmother may have needed a little extra support with household duties when her empty nest suddenly had an infant and a mother-in-law in it.

Looking at her living with her grandparents made more sense when I looked at what was going on in the lives of her grandparents at the time. Context and chronology matters.

Children in Census Household May Not Be “Children”

US censuses between 1850 and 1870 list every name in a household, but bear in mind that not all children are children of the head of the household. They may be step-children, foster children, nieces, nephews, other relatives, etc. Even in the 1880 and later census where relationships to the head of household are given, “children” of the head of the household may not necessarily be their children.

Use the census as a starting point to other records suggested by the enumeration, particularly vital records, property records, military records, etc.