Where They Rented?

If you know where a relative or ancestor rented a home, apartment, farm, etc. track that in your genealogy database. Leases are not usually recorded (in contrast to deeds) and where a renting relative lived can easily become lost to history.

Widow Survived?

If your ancestor’s widow survived him, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Could she have applied for a widow’s pension based on his military service?
  • Could she have applied for a military land warrant based on his military service?
  • If her husband owned real property, how was it disposed of after his death?
  • Did the wife get a life estate in any of her husband’s property?
  • Did the wife get married after her husband died?
  • Did the wife move after her husband’s death to live with a child a distance away?

Every Date, Every Place, Every Witness

I’ve reviewing a Mexican War pension application for a widow whose veteran husband was never divorced or widowed from his first wife. The claims made in the pension are confusing and not always consistent with other records. It’s claimed that the first wife died in the 1850s, but she’s living with her children for at least twenty years after that. Because the situation is confusing to begin with and because some of the statements are inconsistent, I’ve decided to make an chart with every date or event given in the pension application, including columns for:

  • Date
  • Place
  • Event
  • Witness
  • Comments/Miscellaneous
  • Document/Source

This way I have extracted key items from the application and can sort them in a variety of ways.

Aunt Law

From a while back…

It took me forever to “realize” where the nickname probably came from. Some family members referred to my Aunt Luella as “Law.” I had known her by those names for so long that I never questioned it and never wondered where it came from. I just took as it was.

Until today. I was saying the name to myself for some reason or another and it dawned on me that the originator of the “Law” name probably said “Luella” in such a way that “law” was a part of it. I never heard it pronounced that way and didn’t say it that way myself.

Of course the reason I never heard anyone say “Lawella” or “Lawellaw” is because those people never said her full name. They called her “Law.”

Knowing the origination of her nickname is not crucial to my research–just a reminder that sometimes it takes a while for things to dawn on us. And that’s fine.

Bad Word Memories

Some people like their bad words more than others. My paternal grandmother had three four-letter words that she spelled out until well after I knew what they spelled. If you are needing a writing prompt for your family history memory journal, how “bad words” were dealt with may bring back some memories.

Those Home Grown Place Names

Do you map out or record somewhere those names you have for places that you, and maybe only a few other people, know? Growing up we had names for various parcels of property that our grandparents or parents had slowly acquired over the years. Usually those names were for former owners. One name may have been for a former tenant on the property–I’m not exactly certain.

And one name was a severe mangling of the name of a previous owner. It took me a while to figure that one out.

But record those names. It may even be helpful to map them out as well.

Does the Heir Benefit?

Typically an “heir” is someone who is legally entitled to inherit property from someone if that someone dies without leaving a legally valid will.

Beneficiaries are generally individuals who are designated to receive property after a person dies. They may be named in a will, a trust, or other legal documents.

Legatee and devisee are two older terms that may be encountered in legal documents involving the settlement of an estate when there is a valid will admitted to probate. A legatee is someone who is named to inherit personal property. A devisee is someone who is named to inherit real property.

Final Settlement

When looking through a set of estate or probate papers, don’t neglect to look for a “final settlement.” It may list a final list of heirs to the estate–some of whom may not have been listed at first because some of the original heirs may have died during the settlement of the estate. The temptation may be to look for just the will and the estate inventory, but the final report may hold some clues as well. Seeing how the money was split up may assist in determining what relationship the heirs had to the deceased as in some cases that may not be made crystal clear.