More than Just How You Say It

A Facebook meme asked “How do you pronounce the capitol of Kentucky? Louisville or Louie ville?”

The correct answer is your pronounce it “Frankfort.”

There’s several lessons there. Proofread. Do not believe everything you see on the internet. Think. Don’t assume. Do not jump to conclusions.

And geography, do not forget geography.

Do Something

Don’t put off writing up that genealogy information until you “get around to it,” “until life slows down,” or “until you have it all completely done.” Many times the ideal point in life to write up that family history never arrives and it certainly doesn’t knock on your door and announcing “I’m the perfect time to complete that family history project.”

Something is better than nothing. At the very least share those identified pictures. Someone in 100 years may treasure your incomplete project than you imagined and certain cannot treasure what you never even started.

If you’re looking to buy DNA test kits, AncestryDNA is offering some sales until this coming Father’s Day (19 June 2022). Just remind the testee that there may be some unexpected discoveries. Some people welcome those. Others do not.

What a Kid Believes

When I was probably in the second grade, I went in with my dad to a local small motor repair shop to pick up something he had dropped off. When he went to pay the bill, he asked the lady who handled the books what she had been doing lately.

“Going over to Keokuk and setting off fires was her answer.”

For the longest time, I thought she was the person responsible for setting the string of fires in the nearby river town. She was kidding, but sometimes kids do not realize that.

Was there something joked about and great aunt Myrtle, when she was a very small child, over head it and believed it?

And then repeated it to you?

Track the DNA Why

Cryptic notes about your DNA match will only confuse you later. Include details about the connection when you determine that relationship.

Your notes about a DNA match should indicate the complete relationship (if known) and how you determined that connection. If you were only able to determine part of the connection, indicate that. For example, if you determined the match descended from a specific grandchild of your 3rd great-grandparents, but you can’t determine the relationship with more precision indicate that and include how you came to that conclusion. If the notes field is not large enough for your complete analysis, put the analysis in a text document, save it, and reference it in the notes.

My preference is to include as many names in the connecting family line as possible–which means I have some cleaning up to do of my own results. These names will allow you to use the notes more effectively later.

In the illustration, I included the names of the common ancestors and the great-grandchild of those common ancestors through whom they descend. I should have included more names in the notes.

Have You Overlooked Anyone?

When I started my research, my goal was to trace my families either “across the pond” or to where they lived before they settled in Illinois. Then my focus concentrated on working through my colonial era families in the east coast of the United States.

I never really worked up the siblings of my great or great-great-grandparents. Their parents were easy to determine and, for the most part, those aunts and uncle lived and died in the two-county area where my families had lived since the 1850s. So I figured I’d do it ‘later.”

Later came around the time I got my DNA results back. Matches can be more easily analyzed when you know something on the descendants of the siblings of your great and great-great-grandparents. But it wasn’t just that. I learned of an uncle who spent 10 years in Montana and purchased federal land and served in World War I while he lived there. I discovered another uncle who actually homesteaded in Alberta, Canada, and whose sister who filed suit against her husband three times before the divorce was final.

There may be just as many stories in those ancestral siblings as there are in your ancestors. Don’t neglect them.


Heirs to an estate may be listed as coparceners and they are individuals to whom an inheritance descends jointly, typically heirs of a deceased individual.

The Age of a Witness?

I was trying to determine who was the witness on a 1907 marriage from rural Nebraska. There were two candidates for the person who was the witness and then I remembered that in order to legally be a witness that person had to be over the age of majority.

In 1907 in Nebraska, that would have been twenty-one years of age for a male. And that answered the question. The bride’s brother would have been under twenty-one and her cousin would have been in his late twenties. Why one her “of age” siblings was not the witness is a mystery I may never know the answer to.

But “being of age” was the answer to the identity of the witness question. Contemporary state statutes will indicate the age required to witness a legal document.

Those AncestryDNA Holiday Sales

They all do it: holiday sales for DNA tests. While more people testing helps those of us who have already tested, taking a test without giving a thought to the drama that could result is not necessarily advised.

There’s a chance that someone taking a test will discover family facts of which they were not aware and that could create a little bit of modern-day family drama. Not everyone wants that drama and not everyone wants to know those details. A DNA test could indicate half-siblings that were unknown or a previously unknown child or grandchild of a sibling of a parent or grandparent. Not everyone will react the same way to this news. Respect the wishes of someone who does not wish to test. It’s their right to opt not to take the test.

If you’re looking to buy tests, AncestryDNA is offering some sales until this coming Father’s Day. Just remind the testee that there may be some unexpected discoveries. Some people welcome those. Others do not.

What Will Reading the Records of Others Tell You?

I recently was looking for a christening record in a rural Nebraska church and after finding it, I browsed the other confirmation records for about a twenty year period in the late 19th century.

Every entry had the place of birth and baptism for the person being confirmed. The church was in an area that had been open for settlement for perhaps ten or so years. Virtually all the young adults being confirmed had been born “back east” or “across the pond.” Viewing those records gave me insight into the migratory patterns of early settlers in the area–or at least those who were members of the church in question.

That insight would never have been obtained if I had simply looked at the one record of interest and gone on to looking for something else in a separate set of records.

Those Are Hints not Gospel

Several of the fee-based genealogical research sites will offer up “hints” of records that may be for your ancestor.

These hints are often based on search parameters, what you have in your tree, what others have in their tree on the (supposedly) same ancestor, etc. These hints are not analyzed by any human. They are dished up by a computer algorithm.

Sometimes they are right and other times they are not. It is up to you to determine if the hint is in fact a record for your ancestor. The name may be similar but the person may still be different. The location or likely age of the person may indicate that it is someone entirely different. But do not just automatically assume the hint has to be right because a computer or website dished it up to you.

Think of the hints as automatic matches on a dating site. Would you automatically date the first person the algorithm suggested you should without giving any thought to it? Treat the genealogy hints the same way.