Never make the assumption that “our family” never had any divorces. Married couples have had difficulty getting along since marriage began. Divorce is not one of those stories that always gets passed down in families. It is easier to “not pass” the story down if the marriage does not result in children or the divorced parties do not remarry. My third great-grandmother was divorced twice. My great-uncle was divorced from his wife and no one ever told anyone about it. I never would have thought to look for a divorce record except his death certificate indicated that he was divorced. Divorce records are usually kept with the county records. Give them a look. You never know what you will find out. And remember, even a divorce record on […]
Have you posted to the message boards at Ancestry/Rootsweb or other genealogy sites and not looked at your message in a while? Have you gotten a response? Remember that even if the site allows you to be notified of a response, that response might have gotten stuck in your spam filter. Also some users don’t view the “old” posts because they are concerned that the emails are out of date, etc. Consider re-posting messages to boards with updates in your information, etc. New people are getting into genealogy every day and there may be new relatives just waiting to be found on the message boards. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Have you reviewed information you found early in your research? Perhaps you entered data without really analyzing it or copied only parts of a document or a book without realizing that there was more? Are there any conclusions you reached early in your research that you are “sticking” to, even though you should go back and analyze them now that you know more?I have copies of court records in my files, where I now realize that I only copied part of the record, what I thought was important when I was first starting my research. Now I realize that there might be more. If you have not done it, it may be worth your time to revisit some things you “discovered” when you first started. ———————————— Check out […]
Some online databases are “works in progress.”, Footnote, GenealogyBank and other sites offer wonderful data, but some databases are not complete before they are posted. Ususally this information is somewhere on the site, but it may not be obvious initially. is pretty good about showing users their “green status bar” that indicates what percentage of records have been uploaded. Ancestry will usually show what areas and records are in a database, but one has to scroll past the search screen to get to it. FamilySearch also indicates when databases are incomplete. Make certain you know how complete something is before searching it. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
It can be so tempting. A search for your ancestor on a website turns up with his ancestry back five generations. There it is all compiled and easily downloadable in a file that can be imported into our own database. In a word, no. I have located many ancestors in these online files with generations of their ancestry. In some cases, I use this files as clues. Not as facts. If I import someone’s information into my file, separating the information out is nearly impossible. Not all submitters are careful about the accuracy of their information. Just this week I found an online compilation with the ancestors of a first cousin of my great-grandmother. This compilation contained people dying before they had children, parents who with birthdates after […]
If you cannot find deeds or records of an estate settlement for your ancestor, look for a partition suit. These suits were filed usually when the heirs could not agree on how a farm or piece of real estate could be equitably partitioned out amongst the heirs. These court cases will be filed in the county courthouse with other court records. They typically show how the deceased obtained their property, when they died, and who their heirs were. All are good clues for the genealogist. I always look for partitions, but they can be particularly interesting if a relative died with no descendants. That’s when all the relatives come out of the woodwork. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
No doubt a good digital image is a great rendering of a document that may be difficult to read. However, it still is to your advantage to transcribe documents if at all possible, even if you have digital copies. Transcribing a document forces you to look at every word, perhaps a word you overlooked in quickly reading the document. And there are still times where sharing a typed up transcription may be easier than an image. When you type that document, think about what every word means. Think about what every phrase means. There may be a term upon which your research may hinge. And when you do not know what a word means, look it up. It may make all the difference. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer […]
Have you written your own story? Many genealogists spend so much time obtaining information on dead relatives and interviewing living ones that they neglect themselves? Think about the things you wish your ancestors could tell you? Why they moved; why the voted; what they thought about certain events in their lives. And when you have a list of things you wish your ancestors could tell you….answer those questions about yourself. Or at least the ones that apply to you. If you describe your Civil War service to your descendants they might not be inclined to believe much of what you say about anything else (smirk). ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Are you only using certain records in your search? Are there souces you do not use because you think they are too difficult to use or because you are unfamiliar with them? If so, you may be limiting the amount of information you find and leaving a significant part of your ancestor’s story untold. Ignoring deeds if your ancestors were farmers is a mistake, land records may provide migration and other clues not evidenced in other records. Even city dwellers might have owned a small city lot and how that lot was dealt with after the owner’s death could provide you with good information. And assuming your ancestors weren’t the kind of people to end up in court records is a bad one to make. Over half of […]
Some family traditions are more true than others. The problem is proving them. My usual approach for dealing with family traditions is to break them into the things that (if true) might have created a record or document and those things that probably did not leave any record.Then I focus on trying to prove or disprove the parts of the story that I can. Often the family tradition is mostly false, but sometimes there is a grain of truth in there somewhere. I find that breaking it up into “possibly provable” and “probably not provable” a good way to start working on the tradition. There is an old article on the site I wrote on this topic. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day […]
I am a big believer in studying migration chains. Your ancestor did not just arbitrarily move from point A to point B. Chances are someone encouraged him to move, or sent him a letter telling him how good it was in the new area, etc. Even if there was not someone from “home” living in his new destination when he arrived, chances are someone from “home” came out to settle where he did after he was there. My wife and I have over twenty ancestral families who came from Europe in the mid-19th century. All of them (save one) came where they knew someone or else had someone come over from Europe after they did. And even those families moving across the US moved as part of a […]
Did you do any thinking to reach that genealogical conclusion about a parentage or a date? Did you analyze several documents to reach a decision about what they meant? If so, is that chain of thought somewhere in your database? Human memories are particularly frail and writing it out somewhere increases the chance your logic and thought process gets preserved. And remember that you could later realize you were wrong. It is hard to see an error in your line of thought if it was never written down anywhere. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
While it is not really a genealogy tip, it is a good one anyway. When doing your research, consider turing “off” the email and some of the other “constantly on” computer applications that demand attention. Consider even getting away from the computer, unless you are searching online sites. Sometimes the constant distraction can negatively impact your concentration. Researching with several other tasks going on in the background can cause us to overlook the obvious. Sometimes multitasking is not as efficient as we think it is. Some research tasks require concentration, whether it be reading a foreign language or analyzing 1840 census returns. Do your research a favor the next time you are working and give it your full attention. You might surprise yourself at how much you accomplish. […]
One of the best ways to organize information and see what is lacking in your research is to write up the information you already have. Prove each point or statement as you work along. You would be amazed at the amount of information you have or at how little you actually do have. I write up families all the time for various articles or columns I am working on. It is one of the best ways to really get you looking more closely at your research. Writing for someone else to understand makes you think about things on a different level. It may help you notice gaps or errors in your own research. And if the finished product looks good to you, consider submitting it for publication in […]
Keep in mind the difference between the date a document is executed and the date it is recorded. The date a document is executed is usually the day it is signed and becomes effective. The date of recording is the date the document is recorded officially at the courthouse. Documents cannot be recorded before they are executed, but there is no law that they have to be recorded within specific time frame. Deeds may be recorded years after they are written. This is more likely to happen if a family goes to sell a piece of property and realizes the deceased owner never had his or her original deed recorded. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
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