Is great-grandpa’s will confusing? Are the relationships unclear? If so, make certain you have accessed all accountings of the estate that indicate what relatives received what amounts of money. If these records exist, the disbursements may mention relatives not listed elsewhere (people tend to “appear” when money is involve). These documents may also help to clarify relationships that may be ambigious in wills and other records. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Have you looked for a relative’s probate only to not find it? Are you certain that he or she owned land when he died? If you are, look for a quit claim type of deed where the heirs either sell to one other heir or to another party. It may be that your ancestor’s estate “avoided” probate by use of one of these deeds. Sometimes these records will say the name of the deceased owner and sometimes they do not. Consequently to find these records, look in land indexes for the names of all known heirs of the relative whose probate you cannot find. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Most of us have at least one ancestor who was married more than once. Normally we do not descend from each of their spouses and we tend to focus on the spouse from which we descend. Doing this may cause us to overlook information. Researching all our ancestor’s spouses may provide more information about the ancestor. Archibald Kile was married three times. The first was in the 1830s in Ohio to the woman with whom he had all his children. He married twice in Illinois, both times when he was in his 70s. Searching the records of these marriages located marriage applications which provided the names of Archibald’s parents. If I had not located the second and third marriages of this ancestor, I would have missed a great […]
Sometimes a clue is not a clue the first time you see it. I had used a deed as a sample in my early years of teaching genealogy classes. After a few years, I switched it out in place of a different example. Several years later, I switched back to the earlier example, not really reading it but just putting it in. I read again as I lectured about it and then I stopped. The purchaser of the land in question was an ancestor–the reason I had copied it. Now years later, I stopped and looked at the name of the seller. It was my ancestor’s first cousin who had “evaporated” in Ohio. Here he was in Illinois selling land to my ancestor. Now I know to look […]
Do you have pictures with individuals who are not identified? Work on locating someone who might be able to help you name those people. The courthouse and library will still be around in a month (hopefully). Great aunt Myrtle might be the only one who knows who “those old people” are and her memory (or even yours) could be taken away in a moment. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
If Grandma or Grandpa “evaporates” after the death of their spouse, make certain you have searched for all their children, not just the one who is your direct line. Your ancestor could easily have moved in with one of their adult children after the death of their spouse. Find all the children of your ancestor. Look for them in census records. In pre-1850 censuses, Grandma or Grandpa may appear as a “tickmark” in one of the older columns. Grandma or Grandma or Grandpa may also appear in the cemetery next to one of those children. If they moved several states away to live with a child, they might not have been taken “home” for burial. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
When was the last time you read a research guide or how-to book about genealogy or an area where you are researching? It is easy for even the most experienced researcher to occasionally overlook a record type or not be aware of a record that has recently become more accessible. Periodically review a chapter in a guide book-The Source: A Guidebook Of American Genealogy (Third Edition) and Val Greenwood’sThe Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy are two of my favorites. And for specific areas, the Family History Library’s Research Guides are excellent. We all need a refresher every so often. And I’ve been known to read a chapter from one of them when I was in need of an article idea and behind on a deadline. ———————————— Check out […]
Always prove dates given to you by family members, especially early generations of the family. They may not be correct, for several reasons. One common reason for fudging dates is to make the first child arrive at least nine months after the marriage. One family history had my great-grandparents married a year earlier than they were to better “fit” the birth of their first child. In another family, the birth date of the oldest child and the marriage date of the parents were modified to make the first child born a year after the marriage. It is important to be accurate and not to judge. Great-aunt Myrtle might not like to hear that her parents “had” to get married, but she likely will get over it. It is […]
An ancestor of mine was John Rucker. In some records he is listed as “Captain John Rucker.” In some cases “captain” ends up being his first name. Of course, this makes a difference in how his name appears in an index or an online database. Did your ancestor have a title? Is it making him difficult or impossible to find? ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
If you are looking for someone in the census and cannot find them, try reversing the first and last name. Perhaps the census taker did not know which name was the first name and which name was the last name. This problem can be compounded if the names are in a foreign language. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
When a document gives the name of an informant, consider how likely they are to know the information they are providing. Sometimes the informant may not be all that informed. A daughter-in-law who is the informant on a death certificate probably does not have first hand knowledge of the deceased individual’s parents. And yet, she may be the only person who is available to give the desired information. Remember that even you are not a truly primary source for your date and place of birth. Your knowledge of that event is because you were told it or you read it on a document. It is not because you were aware of the event at the time it took place. Not being a primary source does not mean you […]
Some genealogists throw out an entire family tradition. While stories passed down from generation to generation may be exgaggerated and Grandpa’s own personal tall tale, there may be an iota of truth to the story. The difficulty is finding out that truth. An ancestor’s grand story of military service may really be that he was a private. A relative living on the castle grounds may turn out to be one who lived within sight of the castle. Include family traditions in your genealogy, but clearly label them as tradition. Even the tall tales tell something about your family. And look at the tradition closely. Could there be a nugget of truth hiding under tons of dirt? ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Not all records or sources are created equally. That is why knowing where you obtained something is crucial. If you have a copy of great-great-grandfather’s deed, is it: the original which passed down through the family a copy of the official record at the courthouse (which is a transcription of the original) a copy of a copy a relative made a copy from a microfilmed copy of the original Perhaps the copy in the courthouse had some notation in the margin in an ink which did not show up on the microfilm. Perhaps the courthouse transcription contains an error. The courthouse transcription does not contain the actual signature of the individuals, which the original should. And on it goes. We could pontificate on citation for a long time, […]
Genealogists frequently look in the newspaper nearest to where their relative died for an obituary. That is a good place to start, but the search should not end there. Other newspapers may have carried obituaries as well and those writeups might be different from the one published in the nearest town. I always check the county seat newspapers. They might have published death notices or longer obituaries for residents throughout the county, not just the county seat proper. And even larger towns in nearby counties might have published notices of your ancestor’s death. Samuel Neill died in West Point, Hancock County, Illinois in 1912. The newspaper in Carthage, the county seat, published an obituary. A newspaper in Quincy, Adams County, Illinois, to the south published a slightly different […]
State statute determines who can be a witness, but there are some general tendencies that genealogists need to be aware of. A witness to a document usually needs to be of sound mind and of legal age. They also should have no direct interest in the document. For example, an heir to a will should not be a witness. And the grantor or grantee on a deed should not be a witness either. Sometimes one will hear that one witness was from the wife’s side and one was from the husband’s side, etc. There may be times where that happens, but it is not a hard and fast rule. A witness is saying that “I saw you sign that document and I know who you are.” That’s it. […]
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