From a while back: You are researching your ancestor in a new location. Unless your ancestor moved from the upstairs bedroom to the downstairs bedroom, there’s the chance she crossed a political boundary. Crossing that boundary means: Learning about these things in the new location will help your research. Don’t assume that the address was the only thing that changed when your ancestor moved.
It bears repeating: research not only the people you are “interested in,” but also their extended family–particularly their siblings, nieces/nephews, aunts/uncles, step-siblings, first cousins, long-term friends, etc. I don’t think it’s usually necessary to research the third and fourth cousins of your focus person, but many times something on those close relatives may tell you something on your focus person that you are unable to locate elsewhere. When you find these people on census enumeration, passenger list, or similar record, look at the “paper neighbors” on that record–you may find your actual person of interest.
County and local histories published in the late 19th century often contained biographies of residents. These writeups were often submitted by the subject of the biography or their immediate family and usually required payment. If your ancestor did not have the means to pay or did not have the inclination to pay, the chance they have a biography in some of these books is minimal. There also was little or not fact-checking of the material contained in these books as well. Use the data as clues and validate where you can from contemporary sources with reliable information. What’s in the book may very well be correct, but as the time covered moves further into the past the chance of errors increases.
A call name is a name that a person normally uses. The name in his baptismal record and other church records may be Johann Erasmus Trautvetter. The rest of the time (the vast majority of the time) he went by Erasmus. Erasmus was his call name. He never used the name Johann.
Marriages may not always get recorded as officiants do make mistakes. But if spouses are required to be on a land deed relinquishing their interest in the real estate being transferred, that reference usually is not overlooked. The reason is that a purchaser may have issues with their title if the wife of the grantor (seller) does not relinquish their dower interest in the property. Such was the case with Gustaf Herbert of Hancock County, Illinois. A marriage record for him could not be located in the county where he lived or in the nearby counties. Assuming he was not married would have been a mistake. There on a deed from 1880 when he sold forty acres was the name of his wife at the time of the […]
Your ancestor may have had a variety of jobs during his life. For some individuals their jobs all followed the same career path or involved the same type of work. For others, the type of work varied. Don’t assume that your relative had one job or type of job his entire life. The 1906 deposition shown in the illustration indicated that the deponent’s husband, Omaha, Nebraska, resident Frederick Fuller, drove a wagon for a brewer, worked as a policeman, ran a saloon, and then travelled selling groceries in the 1882-1895 time frame. After that he moved to North Dakota and worked as a farmer and rancher. Before living in Omaha, Fuller also worked as a farmer. Documenting these occupational changes can be difficult. Census records provide periodic information. […]
There is no doubt that in the early days of settlement in a location, when that area was on the “frontier” with potentially rapid changes in population that county lines changed as new ones were formed out. There is also no doubt that even after an area was settled, the occasional new county would be formed or a county line would be slightly modified for one reason or another. It is even possible that a line may be corrected when a new survey is conducted. One set of my great-grandparents farmed in several different locations for the first twenty or so years of their marriage in the very early 20th century. These farms were on different sides of the county line. Some children were born in one county. […]
Do you know what information is typically included in a marriage record when your ancestor married? Do you know what is usually found in a death record when your ancestor died? If you have family who lived in an area for some time, do you know what typically is included in a probate file? Do you know if the occupation of a grantor is typically included in a land deed? Being familiar with the records in a place and time–including what information they usually provide–can help direct your research process. If you are working on a group of families in Amherst County, Virginia, in the early 19th and late 18th centuries, you should know that marriage bonds may provide parental information. If you are working on a group […]
I’m working on a family where three fairly close relatives married men with the last names of Herold, Herbert, and Herzog. A cheat sheet (actually three different colored post-it notes) contained their name, year and place for their birth and death and the name of their wife. It was a low-tech approach, but helped me to keep them straight.
A relative, John Herbert, purchased property in Illinois in the 1850s from his wife’s parents. He sold it on 4 March 1861 to his wife’s brother. There is no “release of dower” signed by the wife, which is typical for the time period and location. I do know that by 1870 he was married to another wife and family tradition is that he was a widower before he married again. There are no death records in Illinois for the time period in question. Since normally a wife would have signed a release of dower on a deed in Illinois in the 1860, it seems reasonable that John’s wife was dead by the time the deed was executed on 4 March 1861.
In 1879, my uncle George Adolph Trautvetter, purchased 40 acres from Julius and Mary Bierman in Hancock County, Illinois. I recognized the names of the grantees immediately: Mary (who signed as Marie) was a first cousin to George Trautvetter. Always do at least a cursory search of the other individuals involved in your relative’s land transactions. It was not uncommon for people to interact with extended family members in real estate transactions. These documents won’t name any relationships on the deed–unless they all happen to be heirs or already have a joint interest in the property. Deeds are about transferring title to property–not documenting family relationships (unless for reasons already mentioned).
It can be tempting to think that giving a child a shilling or other token amount of money in a will indicates that the testator and the recipient were “on the outs” at the time the will was written. That’s not necessarily so. It’s also very possible that the testator gave the child money well before the will was written–perhaps when they married or set out on their own. In this case, the token bequest shows that the testator remembered the child. Leaving them from the will totally opened the door to someone claiming that they were forgotten. The shilling recipient may very well have been on the outs with the testator at the time the will was written. Family squabbles certainly happen and parents leave children out […]
In many newspapers, opinion is not just on the editorial page. A 1906 newspaper reference to a relative refers to her as a “mysterious woman” who is rumored to have been an “adventuress.” The reality is that she was the first wife of a bigamist living in North Dakota who died there while married to his second wife. Her life in Omaha, from the records that have been located, do not suggest her lifestyle was one that could be referred to as “mysterious.” Newspapers have long used phrases in headlines to attract the attention of readers and some were inclined to be somewhat hasty in publishing information without gathering all the relevant facts. Always read newspaper items with the approach of looking for additional records suggested by statements […]
The best tree checker tool: your own common sense. Other things that significantly cut down on errors: Tree checkers can get the obvious errors, but they rarely catch it if you merged two first cousins of the same name into one person. Don’t expect the computer to do all the thinking for you.
“Late” can mean formerly. A person referred to as being “late” does not have to be dead. This reference to Antje J. Fecht (late Habben) simply means that she had previously used the last name of Habben although she was using the last name of Fecht at the time the document was written. It does not indicate how her name changed, but that it had changed.
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