We all have information, records, or other bits of genealogical data that we have not analyzed, put in our organized materials, shared with others, etc.? Do you have a pile of papers in your genealogical work area that you have let accumulate over time without doing anything with? Do you have images of family history materials in your downloads folder that you saved ages ago with the intent of working on–but are still sitting there accumulating age? It’s fun to make discoveries, but working with what we’ve had for some time may result in the best discovery of all–that the answer to our problem was already in our files or piles. Or at the very least we’re preserving something that may have other eventually died at the bottom […]
Applications for US military pensions often mention the act under which the veteran (or his widow) applied. The details of that act may explain why the veteran waited until then–and that reason could be a clue. Men or women who applied for federal property usually did so under a certain act. If you have records of your ancestor having “applied” for anything, look to see if the act under which the application was made is referenced. Learning about that act may tell you something about your ancestor that is not stated in the application.
We released a new and updated recording of my FamilySearch Full Text Search webinar–including presentation and handout. More details are on our announcement page.
From tips of the past… It has been about ten [now twenty-five] years, but there used to be a local band named “DOS GUYS.” There were three ways one could take this: DOS Guys meaning 2 guys from “dos,” Spanish for two. DOS Guys as a way of saying “those” guys, “dos” as a slang way of saying “those.” DOS Guys, meaning guys who were still using the DOS operating system on their computer. Is there something that could be interpreted more than one way? Have you “jumped” on one interpretation that may be the wrong one? It may be that you are creating your own brick wall by doing so.
When you encounter a new ancestral name, always consider spelling variations for that first and last name combination. Determining how the name was likely pronounced can help, especially if it has a linguistic heritage with which you are not familiar. My search for Baltser Heeren was complicated by variations on both the first and last names. The last name could have been pronounced in several ways resulting in spellings of Herren, Hearn, Hirn, Horn..basically anything starting with an “H” containing and “r” and ending in a “n” with varying vowels and numbers of “r”s thrown into the mix. Baltser is a different story entirely. It’s also important to consider spelling and pronunciation variants on names with which we are familiar. That’s when it can be even easier to […]
I’m not one to engage in genealogy games, but these two (which I made up myself) were somewhat interesting and got me to thinking about a variety of things. Going back no further than your great-great-grandparents, which ancestor has places of birth and death the closest to each other? Think about how you know where they were born, how precise your knowledge of their birth place is, and how accurate that information is. For me, it’s two of my great-grandfathers who both born and died in places within three miles of each other. How close are the places of birth for you and your maternal grandmother? For me it is 2.75 miles–roughly.
The 1866 will of a relative is contained in the packet of loose probate papers along with receipts, original copies of orders, original inventories, etc. The packet of probate papers has been microfilmed and digitized. The will is difficult to read. But there’s another digital image of the will. That digital image is made from the record copy of the will recorded in the will record book. That record copy, given the time period, is also handwritten. The will record has been microfilmed and digitized as well. It is much easier to read than the digital image of the original will. The record copy of the will, contained in the probate court’s will record book, is admittedly a derivative copy of the will. Record copies are considered the […]
Remember that when dealing with some record agencies, government offices, churches and private businesses, helping you with your genealogy might not really be their job. County record offices maintain records,  but if you don’t know what you are looking for it makes it difficult for them to help you. Some offices may maintain old records, but their “real job” focuses on current day-to-day activities. Churches and private business maintain their records “privately,” and really don’t have to share information with you, even if great-grandma was a lifetime member or great-grandpa spend a “huge” amount there on his funeral. Just a few thoughts. It doesn’t mean that clerks have to be rude or impolite though!
For your “brick wall” ancestor, do you know (or have any idea) how far they lived from: the county seat? the nearest church of their denomination? the nearest place they could get supplies or transact necessary business? their nearest neighbor? the cemetery? The list here is not exclusive. If you’ve got no idea of the answers to these questions, determining those answers may help you solve your problem.
When you say you “searched” a set of records, what does that mean? Did you search an index in a book created from abstracts of those records? Did you search a database created from those records at FamilySearch, Ancestry, or some other website? Did you manually search the images of those records page by page? Did you manually search the actual records themselves page by page. If you searched the book’s index, what name variants did you look for? How was the book structured? Was every name in the records included in the book and was every name in the book indexed? If you searched a the records by querying a database created from those records, how did you account for spelling variations or transcription issues while searching? […]
Schools, hospitals, churches, and similar organizations sometimes change the location of their facilities and operations. Buildings get outgrown, facilities become too expensive to maintain , or a changing population necessitate a move. You may think you are driving by the spot where grandma was born because that’s where the hospital of that name is today, but is it really in the same place or did it move? The precise location might not be crucial to our research, but occasionally it is. If your ancestor attended a church in 1850 and there’s still a denomination of that name in the location today, do they worship in the same place? Has that hospital moved since 1940? Your grandma and father may have attended the same high school, but was it […]
The above image is the left hand page of the World War I draft classification list entry for my great-grandfather, Frederick Johnson Ufkes. These classification records are held by the National Archives in Atlanta. To search the records, they need: There is a charge of $20 for a copy of the record. Requests can be sent to atlanta.archives@nara.gov. You will be billed if a record is located. Please follow the directions stated above. It’s helpful to find the World War I draft registration card first. That can be done on Ancestry or FamilySearch. The right hand page includes additional information. In my case, that page was blank, but the headings indicate what information is included. There is a Wikipedia page that has information on the registration classifications.
From a while back… Certain ethnic groups tend to follow certain naming patterns when choosing names for children. Keep in mind that these patterns are cultural norms. They are not set in statute. They are not part of an ecclesiastical edict. There can be exceptions, particularly when both grandfathers (or grandmothers) have the same first name or when there has been a significant argument with a certain relative. Use the naming patterns as a suggestive clues not as an established certainty.
I gave away my spare copy of Evidence Explained as a door prize at a recent conference where I lectured. Unknown to me at the time was the fact that I had grabbed the copy of the book that I had stuck a few pictures in for use in blog posts. Fortunately the winner of the book reached out to me and I got the pictures back. That does not always happen, especially with books that get donated to various charities or even tossed away. It’s not just your own books that may contain copies of pictures, obituaries, other clippings, and the like. Books in the home of a recently departed family member may also have similar items tucked away in them. Look in every book. You’ll be […]
If a child is born before a couple married, consider several possibilities: Your first conclusion about the scenario may be correct. Or it may not be. Research the family as completely as possible, then see if a conclusion can be reached.
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