31 December 2010
We'll be back with a new tip tomorrow, ready to start off 2012!
30 December 2010
29 December 2010
28 December 2010
27 December 2010
26 December 2010
25 December 2010
While at the Allen County Public Library last August, I focused on a certain Benjamin Butler in 1850 as being "mine." Using that enumeration as the starting point, I searched other records and made research progress. A stack of papers and records. One problem--I didn't track WHY I thought this 1850 census entry was for the correct person. It took me hours to reconstruct my reason. Time wasted when I started writing up the 1850 Benjamin for an issue of Casefile Clues.
When I decided the 1850 guy was "mine," I should have written down my reasons. That would have saved time.
24 December 2010
23 December 2010
22 December 2010
21 December 2010
Don't pad your ancestral resume like you might your own. Stick to documentable facts (grin!).
20 December 2010
They are encouraging multiple voting--I think someone on staff is a Chicago native.
19 December 2010
18 December 2010
17 December 2010
16 December 2010
15 December 2010
I was looking over a list of heirs of Barbara Haase who died in 1903 and realized that out of her twentysome grandchildren, two were named Kate. I had never noticed that before. Does it mean anything? At this point, I'm not certain. However, if I eventually get "candidates" parents of Barbara, I'll work first on any couple where the wife is named Katherine or the name Katherine appears frequently.
Don't just look in your direct line of descent for name clues.
14 December 2010
Give us a vote--and pretend you're from Chicago--vote often.
That's it for the plug--now back to the tips!
Thanks for the nomination.
Problem is that the Chicago person isn't the relative he thinks it is. If he had done research in the local records where the family actually lived (a distance from Chicago), he would have located the person's probate file which indicated she died in the 1950s.
The same's the same doesn't mean the person is. When in doubt, check it out. And if you aren't in doubt, get that way.
13 December 2010
12 December 2010
People had options of what name they could use if they chose to translate.
11 December 2010
10 December 2010
09 December 2010
08 December 2010
07 December 2010
06 December 2010
05 December 2010
04 December 2010
03 December 2010
02 December 2010
01 December 2010
30 November 2010
Thanks to DH for this tip!
29 November 2010
Read the whole page your ancestor's census or other record entry appears on. Read a page or two before and after. You might be surprised at what you find.
28 November 2010
If manual searching isn't going to work, make a chart and organize your searches by how you will be entering the search terms. Think about:
- first name
- middle names
- last name
- spelling variants
- place of birth
- date of birth
- other search parameters
27 November 2010
- how old was he?
- was he getting ready to leave the area?
- was he having financial problems?
- was he selling to a child or other relative?
- did he buy other property about the same time?
26 November 2010
25 November 2010
In honor of Michael's 7 newly discovered Mayflower ancestors, we're offering Casefile Clues Thursday and Friday for $14 for a year of 52 issues. Here's a little about Casefile Clues and here's a little more.
Want a sample? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive two sample copies.
The Thanksgiving Discount is good through Friday. This post will be pulled after Friday! The discount rate will be called the "Thanksgiving" discount on both days.
Choose the appropriate course of action:
24 November 2010
23 November 2010
22 November 2010
21 November 2010
20 November 2010
19 November 2010
If you have children of your own, think about how they misunderstood something once in a while. Then remember: Grandma was a child once, too!
18 November 2010
An ancestor's wife's name was Ellen. His sister was Emma. The more I learn about Emma, the more I realize that some of the stories that were told about Ellen were actually about Emma. It is easy to see how one could get the names mixed up, particularly if one had never met either person.
Sometimes the mix up happens when the names are not similar at all. Is it possible what grandma told you about relative A was actually about relative B?
17 November 2010
"Etal" means "and others" indicating that your ancestor and other people are selling property, buying property, suing someone, or being sued. "Etux" means "and spouse" and that your ancestor and their spouse are selling, buying, suing, or being sued. Whenever a group of people are involved in a court case or a land record, it has higher potential to provide genealogically relevant information.
Particularly when it is Friday at 3:30 and the courthouse closes at 4:00!
16 November 2010
15 November 2010
14 November 2010
The link is to the Kindle version is here:
If you want to interact with other Tip of the Day followers/readers/fans, the place for that is still Facebook. If you just want the tips, the Kindle version will just have those. The blog feeds that we're posting to kindle from now on will have no ads, just the tip every day. The good news is that you can see the OLD tips on your Kindle as well. How cool is that?
There may be an occasional extra tip or two thrown in, but what is sent to Kindle (by me) for Tip of the Day will be just the tip.
No affiliate links.
Of course, I'd love for Tip of the Day readers to subscribe to Casefile Clues, but there will not be postings about the newsletter in the Kindle feed for Tip of the Day.
This link does take you to Genealogy Tip of the Day on Kindle. Get Tip of the Day where ever your Kindle happens to be.
13 November 2010
Could mixing up the names be why you cannot find your ancestor in an index or a record?
12 November 2010
11 November 2010
10 November 2010
09 November 2010
08 November 2010
07 November 2010
Depending upon the handwriting, the letters, other factors, a middle initial can sometimes be read as part of the last or even the first name.
Just something to think about.
06 November 2010
05 November 2010
I could easily see what I meant. Are all "quick errors" this obvious, especially when the error was made 100 years ago?
04 November 2010
Always copy the page with the abbreviations too. Otherwise they may really confuse you.
03 November 2010
02 November 2010
01 November 2010
It's not 100% proof she was right, but any source needs to be kept in context. She's a secondary source of the relationship because she was not present at the births of her husband's siblings. That doesn't mean she's incorrect.
31 October 2010
30 October 2010
29 October 2010
28 October 2010
Sometimes it happens.
27 October 2010
The Social Security Death Index can be searched for free at GenealogyBank.com.
The reason the Index is updated so quickly is that banks and other institutions use it as a means to catch people using Social Security numbers of recently deceased people.
Turns out my Ira didn't belong to either one. And that his family really didn't live where he settled at all. The "other" families may be related, but it is so distant as to not really be relevant.
Sometimes similar names and places are coincidences. Just keep that in mind.
26 October 2010
Remember that the entire family might not have moved with the ancestor. Children who were "of age" might very well have stayed behind.
25 October 2010
24 October 2010
23 October 2010
22 October 2010
That posting can be viewed here:
If you are stuck on how to read or interpret something, consider having someone else look at it. Your interpretation just might not be correct.
21 October 2010
20 October 2010
19 October 2010
18 October 2010
My Ira Sargent was actually William Ira Sargent and it's as William Sargent that he marries in 1870.
17 October 2010
Readers of Casefile Clues will see this "in action" in issue 7. Attendees at the recent Germantown, TN workshop saw it as well. But there are other examples besides the "Ia" one.
16 October 2010
15 October 2010
- her marriages
- where she was in each census year
- what each census enumeration said about her
- what years she had what last names
- who was the father of what children
The relative will be featured in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues.
14 October 2010
The paragraph you write about how you proved a date of birth is something you can copyright and typically copyrighted the minute you write it.
The fact that Johann was born on 18 June 1832 is not something you can copyright.
Otherwise if facts could be copyrighted, I'd be taking claim to "2 plus 2 equals 4." (Grin!).
13 October 2010
Elecksander was probably Alexander, said so as to be spelled another way.
Cathren in a census was probably Catherine, but probably pronounced "cath rin" as opposed to "Cath er in."
Spelling might hide more clues than you think.
12 October 2010
And your ancestor may have half-siblings and you may not even know it.
11 October 2010
Genealogy Tip of the Day is one genealogy tip published every day to our blog (http://genealogytipoftheday.blogspot.com/ and the Genealogy Tip of the Day Fan Page on Facebook. You can also follow us by clicking on the links on the blog page at http://genealogytipoftheday.blogspot.com/.
Tip of the Day is free--but is sponsored by my weekly newsletter Casefile Clues (http://blog.casefileclues.com/).
Tips usually come from my own research and writing. Content and topics are pretty random--just whatever comes across my desk in the process of doing my own research and writing. You don't have to subscribe to the newsletter to get the tips. The tips are, by the nature of tips, short and to the point.
Once in a while I may mention a website, but we try and avoid being "website of the day."
Suggestions and comments are always welcomed. Posts to the Fan Page are welcome, but posts that are pretty much all "self-promotion" will be removed. Suggestions based upon the tips or additional tips or clarifications are always welcomed.
10 October 2010
09 October 2010
Think about how the first name was said. Sometime English language names were said in ways that resulted in a wide variety of spellings.
08 October 2010
07 October 2010
06 October 2010
It can be frustrating when a record is missing, but ask yourself "what else could there be?"
05 October 2010
Give a second thought before taking free advice or suggestions from someone whose skill level and expertise are not really known to you.
04 October 2010
03 October 2010
02 October 2010
01 October 2010
Or so I thought.
It actually said "Fannie May 16 1880" and was referring to her DATE of birth.
Be careful before jumping to a conclusion and getting a little too excited about locating something "new."
30 September 2010
29 September 2010
If John dies without children and had six siblings, the court might only list those four who left heirs of their own.
The court is concerned with determining heirship--not with compiling a complete genealogy.
28 September 2010
27 September 2010
26 September 2010
and if you don't know what base lines and meridians are for, take a look at the Bureau of Land Management website. Baselines and meridians are used to describe ruralproperty in those states where land was initially transferrred to private ownership by the federal government insetad of the individual colonies.
Those of you who only have urban ancestors or east coast ancestors might not need these links....
25 September 2010
Sometimes it is easier to just say "don't know" when asked for a name or a piece of information. And sometimes it's the truth.
24 September 2010
I try and use what they used for the majority of their life. My great-grandmother I have listed as Fannie Rampley. Her name on her birth certificate was Frances. But from her marriage on, every record lists her as Fannie. She signs "Fannie Neill" or "Fannie I. Neill" (Iona was her middle name) on legal documents. She (or likely her children) had Fannie put on her tombstone. I transcribe the records using whatever name they say.
But I have her listed as Fannie in my database as it really appears that's what she preferred.
23 September 2010
And that's never a bad thing.
22 September 2010
Search out the in-laws!
21 September 2010
20 September 2010
Of course, ask for clarification if necessary. Asking if you heard correctly is different that suggesting an answer in the first place.
19 September 2010
Which ones did your ancestor have to perform as well?
Any clues in those tasks? Any clues in those motivations? In some ways we aren't all that different from our ancestors.
18 September 2010
It just might get you thinking.
17 September 2010
16 September 2010
Keep your genealogy mind engaged. Get off the cycle of searching for the same names in the same places in the very same ways.
Getting outside your comfort zone may help you break that brick wall.
15 September 2010
It may be necessary to go back and view the original.
14 September 2010
13 September 2010
Instead does a man have a first and a second wife both named Mary? Does a woman marry a man who has the same last name as her maiden name (that's happened more than you think)? Was there a first, short-lived, marriage because a spouse died young?
Just something to think about.
12 September 2010
Just something to think about.
11 September 2010
10 September 2010
In most divorce cases, is it material if the date of marriage is slightly incorrect? Probably not. The key fact is that the couple is married. Uusally a date being sightly off is not going to impact the divorce case in any significant way.
Always keep the intent of the document in mind when analyzing the information is contains. It doesn't mean things have to be wrong, but there may be certain facts that don't have to be 100% precise.
09 September 2010
Just because you see something repeated numerous places does not mean it's right. That's true even if legal documents are being used.
08 September 2010
Don't just look at the town or village level records. There may be other available materials.
07 September 2010
- search for a probate/will for the wife
- see if there are settlement deeds for any real estate after her death
- check for court action of non-probate courts in case there was an estate squabble after her death.
06 September 2010
05 September 2010
04 September 2010
03 September 2010
02 September 2010
01 September 2010
My grandmother insisted she was born in Tioga, Hancock County, Illinois. She actually was born in nearby Wythe Township according to several contemporary records (discussed at length in an issue of Casefile Clues).
Grandma insisted she was born in Tioga and listed that on every document where she provided the place of birth.
This tip was well timed---Grandma would be 100 years old today!
31 August 2010
30 August 2010
29 August 2010
28 August 2010
27 August 2010
If you can't find military information on your ancestor, see if they recorded a copy of their discharge papers at their local county recorder's office.
26 August 2010
- not mention all children
- may not distinguish children from step-children
- may not indicate which spouse was the parents of which children
25 August 2010
24 August 2010
23 August 2010
22 August 2010
There are situations where, unless new records are discovered or finding aids are created, research will reach a standstill.
Sometimes it's good to know when there's just no more you can do. The problem is that sometimes we reach that conclusion before we should.
21 August 2010
Of course, there may be no obituary at all.
20 August 2010
[the earlier version of this that went out was a "draft" that accidentally went live instead of this version]
Remember that the month of Xber is actually October. Tip of the day readers familiar with their calendar history will know that X is the Roman number for ten and that the prefix "oct" means 8. That's because before the calendar change of 1752, March was the first month of the year, making October the eighth month and not the tenth month. Chances are after the calendar change of 1752, Xber refers to December and that before the calendar change of 1752 it referred to October.
Best advice: Record the month EXACTLY as written. If your software program doesn't "like "Xber" then personally, I would leave the date blank and record an EXACT transcription in my notes as to the date, but that's just my preference. And if the records being used are chronological, look at later entries in the year. It might also be good to look at earlier entries as well.
19 August 2010
Don't focus initially on locating a birth record, instead think where could information about the birth be written? This might be a birth certificate, newspaper announcement, family bible, etc.
Then try to access those sources. It might be that when you locate one of the items it provides a clue to help you actually locate the birth certificate.
18 August 2010
17 August 2010
If there are duplicate sets of transcriptions for a record use both--partiularly if the originals are not at your disposal.
16 August 2010
15 August 2010
14 August 2010
Don't ignore those other illnesses listed on the death certificate.
13 August 2010
12 August 2010
- do you have a source?
- is the fact an "assumption?"
For each source:
- is it primary or secondary
- how reliable is it?
For some questions there's not a "right" or "wrong" answer, but thinking about where you obtained each piece of information may cause you to break that brick wall.
11 August 2010
Indexes aren't perfect and sometimes manual page by page searches are faster than formulating seemingly endless search queries. And you may make a few accidental discoveries in the process.
10 August 2010
09 August 2010
Double check that your locations and dates are correct within the historical time frame.
08 August 2010
07 August 2010
06 August 2010
Usually done so that anyone with knowledge of why the couple should not be married could come forth with the reason.
The publication (or announcement) of the banns does not necessarily mean that the marriage actually took place.
05 August 2010
So consider that those church records indicating three children born with the same name could be correct and look for a death entry for the first ones.
Don't just assume they were different children who had the same christening name and took different names later.
All of which makes the point that it is important to learn about cultural practices for your ancestor's ethnic group.
04 August 2010
Did your ancestor know when they were born? Are you assuming that they did?
A partial copy of the deposition can be seen on the Casefile Clues blog.
03 August 2010
Researching a European immigrant ancestor to an urban area in the late 1800s is different from researching an immigrant to upstate New York in the early 1700s. If you are approaching both problems the same way, that might be adding to the confusion.
02 August 2010
And sometimes just discussing something makes new ideas and errors easier to see than they were before.
01 August 2010
It might be when they witnessed a document, appeared in a biography, wrote their will, signed a bond, etc. Any one of a number of records might tell you "how late you can go?"
31 July 2010
30 July 2010
I've been working on a bounty land application for a Kentucky widow in the 1850s whose husband served. The actual property was patented in Iowa and Illinois by men who purchased the warrant from the widow after it had been issued.
Casefile Clues subscribers will see the bounty application in issue 51.
29 July 2010
28 July 2010
- others in same social class
- same ethnic/cultural group
27 July 2010
If you must, make an annotation separately, clearly indicating it is your annotation and not a part of the original. Don't add to the confusion. What you think is wrong may be right.
If you have the urge to correct errors there are better places to do it.
26 July 2010
Reading up on state statute, or asking someone with more experience with the records may be in order.
25 July 2010
- fewer records were kept
- people were more mobile
- people were concerned with SURVIVING, not leaving a record behind of their existence
As a result, frontier research requires more analysis than later research, more patience, and that the researcher locate just about everything they can get their hands on.
And some records have more problems with accuracy than others. Keep this in mind when using any series of records.
23 July 2010
You may find you already have the answer or realize where you need to go without hiring someone. And if you do hire someone, they'll want your material organized anyway.
22 July 2010
Keep in mind that everyone is wrong once in a while. A distant relative made me go back and re-visit some research I did years ago and while I'm not 100% certain what's "right" yet, there are some holes in what I did.
It doesn't hurt to occasionally go back and review what you thought was "done."
My review of my problem will appear in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues. Bits and pieces of the research may appear as a tip, but the whole thing is far too long for a tip .
21 July 2010
I'll be talking on:
- Court Records
- Using Probate Manuals and Guides to enhance your research
- Organizing Your Research
- and more
Feel free to forward information to other lists and those in the area who may be interested.
One must aim for relative consistency and when there are discrepancies, try and find an explanation for them. In the case of birthplaces, it often is because the family lived there for a time, the boundaries were changing, etc.
Or the informant was clueless and just made it up.
20 July 2010
19 July 2010
18 July 2010
Is your ancestor migrating with members of a specific denomination? Are all of your ancestors associates members of that denomination? There could be clues there....
17 July 2010
Always think about the implications of any statement you read. There may be more there than just what it says "on the surface."
16 July 2010
If you are using published records, do you know if you have an extract or an abstract? It does make a difference.
15 July 2010
I've become increasingly aware of the importance of this while tracking Benjamin Butler from Michigan to Missouri between 1820 and 1870 for a series of articles in Casefile Clues.
14 July 2010
13 July 2010
12 July 2010
It still may not be my person, but it was a "hit" that for some reason did not turn on up on Ancestry. Different sites have their own indexes. If someone cannot be located in one index, determine if other indexes have been created.
11 July 2010
If your great-grandfather is suing his wife for divorce his story is obviously being told from his vantage point.
Keep that in mind for any record you use.
10 July 2010
Is the site's as much information as possible, just to generate traffic and ad sales?
Is the site's goal simply to make information more accessible?
Sometimes it can be hard to tell. But any site's information should be compared with other records (particularly if the site's information is transcribed).
I have seen County GenWeb sites where names of cemeteries were wrong, locations were incorrect, and transcriptions were incomplete. And I've seen ones that were highly accurate as well.
09 July 2010
Your ancestor's widow may have received a warrant for his Virginia service while she was living in Kentucky. The patent may have been issued in Nebraska.
08 July 2010
07 July 2010
Being young and inexperienced (I was probably 14 at the time), I believed her.
Later I found out that Thomas and Polly were a separate couple, but the researcher was close. Thomas was William's brother and Polly was Rebecca's sister.
Remember in genealogy sometimes "close" isn't close enough.
06 July 2010
05 July 2010
Keep in mind that any of your great-great-great-grandmother's descendants could have it? Things didn't just pass to your immediate family.
So get out and get looking. There may be thousands of people who may have what you are looking for.
04 July 2010
And our ancestors didn't have to be politically inclined for historical events to cause them to move. All kinds of things might have brought about your ancestor's migration.
03 July 2010
The county line, the property line, the village line? If you aren't aware of where the various lines are located, are you certain you are looking in the right place?
And remember that the lines can change, especially in frontier days in the early days of settlement.
02 July 2010
Have you tried and thought about how your ancestor's life experience might have impacted his decision making? Have you thought about how your ancestor's educational level might have caused her to react to a certain situation?
Have you thought about how your ancestor's childhood might have skewed his vision?
But when you do all this thinking, don't forget that you might not really be smarter than your ancestor.
We may live in different times, but we might not always be smarter.
Just something to think about. In some ways our experiences may be different than our ancestor and in some ways they might not.
01 July 2010
So a legal document refers to a male as an "infant," he could easily be 21 years old.
We've used this tip before, but it bears repeating and remember---in legal documents words are used in their LEGAL context (and based upon specific legal definitions), not necessarily the way we use them in everyday conversation.
30 June 2010
It is up to the thorough researcher to determine if the inconsistencies are inconsequential and to find reasonable, plausible explanations for them.
Usually violations of the laws of biology and physics are not necessary to explain things
29 June 2010
I "googled" the name (including maiden name) of a first cousin of my great-grandfather. The first cousin had to have died at least forty years ago. However, the searched turned up an obituary for a daughter who died in 2007!
28 June 2010
The child could have had a falling out with their parent, or perhaps the parent had already given them their inheritance, perhaps when they got married, started some type of business, bought their first farm ground, etc.
27 June 2010
Maybe they remember something now they didn't remember before or are willing to discuss something they didn't want to discuss twenty years ago.
It is worth a shot.
26 June 2010
25 June 2010
When visiting that cemetery, consider putting a waterproof calling card on the stone or near to it. A business card in a plastic bag, or a laminated one will work just fine. Use a stone, rock, or some other object to secure it in place, without harming the stone.
You never know when another relative, who doesn't use the internet at all, might stop by that same cemetery and find your card with contact information.
24 June 2010
The settlement of an estate may take place through probate court, or through a simple deed after the surviving spouse dies. It really depends upon the location, the time period, and the complexity of the estate.
If the widow survived, there might not have been an estate settlement, but there might have been an heirship or settlement deed transferring ownership after her death. That might be all the estate settlement that was needed.
Or there could be actual court records, depending upon the size of the estate and the ability of the heirs to get along.
23 June 2010
22 June 2010
I was working on a Benjamin Butler who was enumerated in Iowa in 1870. The problem was that his place of birth in 1870 (Canada) was shown as New York in the 1880 census where I eventually found him. And his 1880 enumeration had him listed as William.
Fortunately the wife and all the other details matched. When using just one enumeration to search for others, considering that any one piece of information could easily be incorrect.
My search for Benjamin will be mentioned in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues. Subscribe now and get in on the fun.
21 June 2010
20 June 2010
19 June 2010
18 June 2010
But a witness on a deed or a will. The witness may be a relative, friend, or another warm body.
But the witness had to be of legal age and that may be a clue.
And always learn why names are on records and in what capacity they are acting. What requirements were there to act in that capacity?
17 June 2010
16 June 2010
- death certificate because someone died
- birth certificate because someone was born
Others not so much, particularly some records in court and other cases. Asking why a document was created will help you to know why some things were included in the document and some things were not. Records we use were created for purposes other than genealogy--keep that in mind.
15 June 2010
14 June 2010
Get outside of that same approach. Your ancestors all didn't approach life the same way, you shouldn't approach them the same way either.
13 June 2010
12 June 2010
11 June 2010
What I needed was colored pencils. Then I could use the colors to mark each person and help me to keep them straight in my head. I'm going to have to get a set of colored pencils.
10 June 2010
That's how years ago I found Ulfert Behrens in Adams County, Illinois listed as Woolpert Barcus.
09 June 2010
08 June 2010
It is important not to get too excited about these huge discoveries and take the to prove every link in the chain.
Online materials, especially those that are unsourced or that only have filenames like "jones.tftw" as sources, should be used as guides, not gospel.
07 June 2010
Writing up your genealogy research is important. It will make you look more closely at what you have, your assumptions and your conclusions. Remember to write for someone who does not know anything about your family.
You might be surprised at the things you learn. And consider submitting your finished product to a local genealogical or historical society quarterly in the area where your ancestor lived. It is a great way to preserve your research.
And don't forget to cite your sources.
06 June 2010
I'm working on a "new" family. The only information I have on them is one 1870 census enumeration. The household is headed by a man, but based upon the ages, the oldest female can't be the mother of all those who appear to be children.
Before I start putting any relationship information on this family in my genealogy software program, I need to work on obtaining more details about their relationships.
Haste in data entry leads to mistakes.
05 June 2010
04 June 2010
03 June 2010
If I hadn't gone back, I might have missed it.