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31 March 2012

One Name for Several Jurisdictions

In some locations, there may be a city, township, and county all with the same name. Make certain you know to which location someone or something is referring. In United States locations, a city and township with the same name are not necessarily the same place.

30 March 2012

Genealogy Proof Standard Webinar Recording Released

I just wrapped up my webinar on the "Genealogical Proof Standard for the non-Professional" today. We discussed:

  • exhaustive searches
  • compilation and citation
  • resolving conflicts
  • and a variety of terms and definitions

Quick easy examples were given--complex problems can't be used as numerous illustrations in an hour session. My goal was to get concepts across--and I think we did that. I could have kept talking for another hour. The intent of the session was to make the point that all of can learn something from implementing the standards in our research--whether we intend to "publish" or not. 


The recording (video and audio) along with the handout, can be ordered securely here for $8.50. Download is immediate and you can view as many times as  you want.

Wait to Proof Your Stuff

Proofreading your transcriptions of records and your research conclusions is always advised. Don't proofread right after you finished something. Let it sit for a day or so if possible and go back to it. You'll be surprised how many things you'll catch when the material is cold.

And that will help you with some of those research challenges that we sometimes create ourselves.

29 March 2012

Who were the debtors?

If you've got an estate settlement for your ancestor, look at the names of the people who owed him money. Any chance they are relatives?

28 March 2012

Why I Cite

We are supposed to cite our sources so that others can find the material we found, we can go back to it if necessary, and we know what version, image, etc. we used. Those are all good reasons for citing our genealogical sources.

Personally I cite my sources because I learn about the sources when I do it. Thinking about how the copy/image came into my possession, who created it, where it was originally filed/stored makes me a better researcher.

Citing makes me a better researcher--even if no one ever reads a thing I write or thing I've cited.

27 March 2012

Estate Values are Relative

If an inventory of an estate lists appraised values of items, be careful in comparing them to prices today. Values are not easy to "translate" over several hundred years. Try and compare the value of the item in question to other items in the same inventory or to other inventories from the same time period. An 1865 estate inventory indicated the deceased had $200 in a "stock of groceries." That seemed like quite a bit. In fact that same amount was the listed value for a frame building he owned. This made it seem like the "stock of groceries" was more than what a family would have on hand for their own consumption. It turns out he was a saloonkeeper and the stock might have been used in the course of business.

Try and put amounts in perspective.

26 March 2012

Not All Immigrants Became Citizens

Do not assume that every immigrant naturalized in his new country. If an immigrant was not interested in voting or running for political office, becoming a citizen might not have been high on his priority list before the early 20th century. Immigrants could often own land and sell and bequeath it without being a citizen--although those rights were governed by state statute.

So if you can't find any proof that your 1860 immigrant naturalized, consider the possibility that he never naturalized.

25 March 2012

Proving Benjamin Webinar Released

Today I presented "Proving Benjamin" discussing how 1850, 1870, and 1880 enumerations for a man in three different states were shown to be the same man. This New York native was born around 1820 in New York State and lived in Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, and possibly other states as well as Canada. Dealing with individuals with similar names, people who move all over, and conflicting information are discussed.

Compounding the issue is that Benjamin is enumerated with a different name in 1880. This webinar (and handout) can be ordered for $8.00 for immediate download.

Save or Print that Webpage

If there's a website that has information you need, save the page to your hard drive or print it out for your own personal use again later. You never know when a website will go down forever. There was a website of cemetery inscriptions for one cemetery that after being up for ten years went "away." And those inscriptions are not on any other cemetery website. Lesson learned.

24 March 2012

1940 Census Webinar-1 April 2012

It's no April Fool's Day joke--the 1940 census is coming. Originally it will be unindexed--our webinar will discuss search strategies for those who want to search the census before the indexes go online.

This webinar will be held on 1 April 2012 at 3:00 PM Central--4:00 PM Eastern---1:00 PM Pacific.


Join us for "Searching the Unindexed 1940 Census."
Register online for $4.

Was the Bondsman An In-Law?

Look carefully at the bondsman on an ancestor's marriage bond. If he was not related himself, research him further--it could have been his wife who was a relative. And remember that marriage bonds were not required in all US states and generally fell out of favor by the Civil War.

23 March 2012

Is That Odd First Name a Clue?

Is there a first name in your family that gets passed down from generation to generation and is somewhat unusual? Was it possibly someone's maiden name? While that's possible, don't hold to that theory too closely--it's also possible that the unusual name came from a non-relative. Unusual names are clues to potential information about a relationship, not proof.

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22 March 2012

When Moving to a New State

When your research crosses a border into a state where you have never done research, put the ancestor away. Learn something about research and records in the state. Visit the website for the state archives, state historical society, state historical library, etc. Learning something about the materials that may be available to you may help you more than immediately digging away using approaches that worked elsewhere.

21 March 2012

Homesteaders Had to be Citizens

If your ancestor filed a homestead claim under the United states Homestead Act of 1862, he had to be a citizen of the United States. This might be a place to locate your ancestor's naturalization record if he naturalized in some unknown location "back East" before moving west to homestead.

20 March 2012

Genealogy Fundamental Webinars Rescheduled


March 2012 Fundamental Webinars


Rescheduled due to illness--see new dates below

Our fundamental webinars are each approximately 20 minutes in length. These short session are geared for beginner or somewhat experienced beginners who would like to learn more about the following topics. Each presentation includes the 20 minute or so presentation and the handouts. Downloads of previous fundamental webinars can be ordered here.
  •   Quick Google Ideas—this is geared towards the advanced beginner to intermediate genealogist as all the fundamental webinars. Our focus will be on searching, what to search for and how to search for it. Runs on 13 April 2012 at 2:30 PM CentralRegister for $2.
    ·         Organizing Census Searches---querying census databases to locate hard-to-find ancestors is necessary. Organizing the search is necessary as well. Through three quick examples, get ideas for how to organize your online census searching for those ancestors you cannot find in five quick minutes. Runs on 13 April 2012 at 12 PM CentralRegister for $2.
    ·         Comparison Shopping (Part 1)—We will see some elementary ways to determine whether the person/family you have found on a passenger manifest or census is the same family you’ve located on a census elsewhere. Runs on 20 April 2012 at 10:30 AM CentralRegister for $2.
    ·         Proving Florence—how I found the father of an 1870 Iowa bride when there’s no direct proof. Not a really difficult to understand problem, but one that many researchers encounter. The solution is not too difficult but we’ll see how the search and the “proof” was organized. Runs on 20 April 2012 at 11:30 AM CentralRegister for $2.

    If you have ALREADY REGISTERED--you are still registered and will get a download link if you were not able to attend the new time. 

Rescheduled Webinars, 1940 Census, Preparing for Mother's Death

We have rescheduled my missed webinars and posted the new schedule. If you have already paid and registered--you're still good to go for the ones that I had to reschedule. 

Our upcoming lineup:

Genealogical Proof Standard (rescheduled)
Proving Benjamin (rescheduled)
Sourcing in Your Ancestry Tree (rescheduled)
1940 Census--NEW!
Preparing for Mother's Death-NEW!

The new schedule is online at:
http://www.casefileclues.com/webinars_neill.htm

If you have questions, email me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

Did You Look for Civil and Church Records?

For some locations and time periods, there may be civil and church records of birth (baptism), marriage and death (burial/funeral). Make certain you've located both the civil and church record if appropriate. One may be more detailed or legible than the other.

19 March 2012

Lived in the Poor Farm?

If an ancestor "disappears," consider the possibility that they were admitted to the county poor farm? The ancestor may have fallen on hard times or otherwise become unable to care for themselves. Records of the poor farm may not be overly detailed, but they may help explain why Grandma "disappeared."

18 March 2012

All Those Releases of Dower

If your ancestor bought and sold property after property, the deed work can be tedious. However if he were married during those land transactions, his wife would have had to "release" her dower when the property was sold. The name of the wife on those releases could provide clues as to the existence of more than one wife and approximately when he was married to which one. A Mary releasing dower in 1802 and 1805 and a Susannah releasing dower in 1810 and 1817 could be a good clue.

17 March 2012

Don't Ignore Siblings Without Descendants

Have you fully researched those siblings of your ancestors without descendants? Their pension applications, marriage records, census materials could be just as helpful on your direct ancestors in answering questions about your family's origins. And, if they had an estate requiring probate, those records could help document additional family relationships. Sometimes there's a big story in the aunt or uncle who never has children.

16 March 2012

When You Find That Relative in 1940

After you have transcribed and analyzed the information, take the names of neighbors from the census and ask family members if they remember people with those names. Names of neighbors can often jog people's memories and cause them to remember stories you never thought to ask. That's one thing I wish I had done with my grandfather's 1930 census entry for the rural township in Illinois where he grew up. I'm certain asking about those names from the nearby census entries would have generated a lot of memories. 

When the 1940 census comes out and you finally find your people, don't just file the information away. Use it.  

15 March 2012

Before the County

If you ancestors were living in an area before the county was formally settled and had established a local government, are you aware of the county from which it was formed? Do you know where to obtain records for that time before the county actually had its own government and set of records?

14 March 2012

Read It Carefully--Two or More Times

When reading a 1790s era deed, a quick reading seemed to indicate that the seller was selling all of a piece of property he had acquired a few years earlier. The acreages were inconsistent with the whole property being sold. A more detailed reading indicated that the part being sold was actually a part of the original. What was originally confusing was just me being not careful.

13 March 2012

With Names Spelling's Not Crucial

It never hurts to be reminded of the importance of spelling: ignoring it for names (within reason). The last name of a person can easily be spelled more than one way, even within the same document. The key for the researcher to remember is that the different spellings should indicate the same name. Bigger, Bieger, Berger, Picker, Pickert, Bickert, Burger, etc. could all easily be the same person. However, a last name of Haase would be considerably different. In modern times we want our names spelled the right way consistently for a variety of reasons. Our ancestors didn't live in modern times.

12 March 2012

Can't Find the "Mc" Entries?

In some handwritten indexes to local county records, the entries for those names beginning with "Mc" or "Mac" may be filed in a separate section after all the "M" entries. So if it looks like the whole county didn't have one Mc or Mac family, look at the "end" of the "M" names to see if they are there. Sometimes they get put at the front too. It can vary but just remember that in some indexes those names may have their own separate section.

11 March 2012

As of This Date

Remember that information on a census is to be given as of "the census date." Sometimes censuses were not taken until days, weeks, or occasionally a month later. Respondents might have been confused when giving information as of a certain date that had happened in the past. As a result, children might be listed who were born "after the census date."

10 March 2012

Did They Know Each Other Back Home

Immigrant ancestors who married in their new country might very well have known each other back in their homeland. If you have located one of them in the "old country" and cannot find the other, consider looking for them in the same area.

It was not uncommon for men to immigrate, get settled and write back that they were looking for a bride.

09 March 2012

Research All the Grandchildren

If you are "stuck" on a specific ancestor, have you completely researched all the way through their grandchildren? There may be direct clues in records on those individuals to help you on the grandparents, or there may be indirect clues (associates, etc.) that may help you on the actual ancestor you are working on.

08 March 2012

The Local Historical Society

Have you contacted the local historical or genealogical society in the county where your ancestor lived? They may have unique sources or knowledge that could be helpful to your research. Don't fail to make contact with these organizations.

07 March 2012

Land Records Are Not Only for Farmers

Remember that city or town dwellers who owned their home should appear in land records as well as farmers who owned property of larger sizes. These transactions may help pinpoint a migration time for your ancestor and deeds drawn up after the surviving spouse died may help you locate missing children.

06 March 2012

Probate Overview (US) Webinar Released

My webinar on the probate process (focusing on American records) was recorded today. Geared towards the advanced beginner or intermediate researcher, it covered an overview of the process and looked at selected documents from two probate settlements with a discussion of the pitfalls to watch out for along the way. 

Probate records are an excellent genealogical source--regardless of the time period in which you are researching and may contain clues about your ancestor, where he lived, his occupation, etc. 

The recording (and handout) are available at an introductory rate of $6.

Who Could Have That Family Bible?

Your great-great-grandparents probably have other descendants besides you. They may easily have several hundred descendants. Any of those individuals could have the family bible, pictures, or other items of genealogical interest.

Don't just look to your immediate family for this information.

05 March 2012

Researching Female Ancestors-Webinar for Download

My webinar "Researching Female Ancestors" was recorded today. In giving the presentation live, a few ideas for my own research crossed my mind as well.

This presentation discusses approaches and techniques for determining an ancestor's maiden name and locating "missing" females. Geared towards the advanced beginner or intermediate researcher, it focuses on American records and sources. The content is not specific to any one time period and many of the approaches can be refined for different locations or types of records.

If you are stymied on your female ancestors--and half your ancestors are female--consider purchasing the webinar (and handout) at the introductory price of $6.

Appraising the Appraisers

The appraisers of an estate cannot have a direct interest in the estate they are appraising. This eliminates heirs and creditors of the deceased. What this means is that children cannot be appraisers, but other relatives can be--as long as the deceased did not owe them money.

It is possible that relatives of the widow were appraisers. Or they just could be neighbors.

04 March 2012

Look At Those First Interactions

If you think your ancestor was dropped off by a UFO, look closely at those people with whom he associated in the first records you have found him in. Who did he first buy land from, if that's the earliest thing you have? Who witnessed his marriage, if that's the first record? Often (but not always), others on these "first records" knew the ancestor in the previous area of residence. There may be clues in those other names--research them as well.

03 March 2012

Who and Why?

When interpreting information on a document, think about who created it and why it was created. Those reasons impact how accurate the information is. Taking every document at face value may eventually leave you with genealogy egg on your face.

02 March 2012

March 2012 Fundamental Webinars


March 2012 Fundamental Webinars


Rescheduled due to illness--see new dates below

Our fundamental webinars are each approximately 20 minutes in length. These short session are geared for beginner or somewhat experienced beginners who would like to learn more about the following topics. Each presentation includes the 20 minute or so presentation and the handouts. Downloads of previous fundamental webinars can be ordered here.
  •   Quick Google Ideas—this is geared towards the advanced beginner to intermediate genealogist as all the fundamental webinars. Our focus will be on searching, what to search for and how to search for it. Runs on 13 April 2012 at 2:30 PM CentralRegister for $2.
    ·         Organizing Census Searches---querying census databases to locate hard-to-find ancestors is necessary. Organizing the search is necessary as well. Through three quick examples, get ideas for how to organize your online census searching for those ancestors you cannot find in five quick minutes. Runs on 13 April 2012 at 12 PM CentralRegister for $2.
    ·         Comparison Shopping (Part 1)—We will see some elementary ways to determine whether the person/family you have found on a passenger manifest or census is the same family you’ve located on a census elsewhere. Runs on 20 April 2012 at 10:30 AM CentralRegister for $2.
    ·         Proving Florence—how I found the father of an 1870 Iowa bride when there’s no direct proof. Not a really difficult to understand problem, but one that many researchers encounter. The solution is not too difficult but we’ll see how the search and the “proof” was organized. Runs on 20 April 2012 at 11:30 AM CentralRegister for $2.

    If you have ALREADY REGISTERED--you are still registered and will get a download link if you were not able to attend the new time. 

Did That Mistake Get Copied and Re-Copied?

In the early 1860s, Elizabeth Freund was appointed adminstratrix of her husband's estate. There was no will. Yet in every other reference to Elizabeth throughout the estate papers, she is called the executor. Repeatedly. Numerous times. Yet she was not the executor of his estate as there was no will. It is likely that the attorney for the estate or the clerk incorrectly referred to her as the executor in one of the earlier documents and the mistake simply got repeated over and over.

Sometimes mistakes are mistakes.

01 March 2012

Does the Probate Provide Death Clues?

Before the time when death certificates list cause of death, it can be difficult if not impossible to determine how an ancestor died. Is it possible that there are clues in your ancestor's estate settlement to his or her final illness?

The probate of Paul Freund in Davenport, Iowa, in the early 1860s indicates that several prescriptions were purchased from a local druggist in the month before he died. These are all listed by prescription numbers, except for one--juniper berries, which were purchased the day before he died. How much of a clue it is his case is not known, but it's made me go back and look at a few other estate settlements to see if types of drugs are listed in the final set of bills to be paid.