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28 February 2010

Every name on the document

Look at every name on that record on your ancestor. Why are those other names on the document? Officials and the like might not be huge clues, but they could be. And the other names might be worth investigating.

27 February 2010

Reminder about Pronunciations

A student asked me if I knew where "Mr. Lowrey" was. At least it sounded it like he was asking for Mr. Lowrey.

It turns out his instructor's first name was Larry. And the last name was not Lowrey.

Could your ancestor (or the census taker) have confused first and last names or at the very least completely altered a name because of the way the speaker said it?

26 February 2010

Check Around Before Buying a Copy of Any Record

It always pays to check around before buying a copy of any record. Generally speaking, try sources in the following order:

  • Family History Library
  • State or Regional Archives
  • Local, County, or State Record Office directly--start by looking here http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w.htm
  • Post a query to the appropriate message board at boards.ancestry.com or lists.rootsweb.com and inquire about records access and prices
  • Never pay for immediate, overnight, or any speedy service.
  • Considering hiring a local professional if you need a large number and can't get them via mail.
This is mean to be general guidance only, but avoid paying exorbitant fees for "extra" services if at all possible. This is why if you are unfamiliar, post to various mailing lists and message boards and wait for an answer.

25 February 2010

Write it Down Now!

"Great-grandma Neill wouldn't let Nellie date the Humke boy because they were related. "

I know someone told me that. I am not dreaming it. I had already known the "Humke boy was related," but the dating (or potential dating) was news to me. I remembered the tidbit while doing something completely unrelated. The problem is that I cannot for the life of me remember who told me. I will write it down now and have to use myself as the source, even though I have no first hand knowledge of it myself.

It is even more frustrating because I was told this little nugget years after I had started genealogy and knew the importance of writing things down as soon as possible.

24 February 2010

Underlined on a Deed?

Is a word underlined on that deed you copied at the courthouse? Remember underlining was often the clerk's way of indicating that the underlined item looked odd and incorrect, but that's what the document actually said. The clerk's job was to transcribe, not to fix.

23 February 2010

Get A Second Opinion

Interpreting documents is never easy. If you have a complicated document or record, consider having more than one person interpret it. Different people can easily interpret the same thing in slightly different ways and those differences can make all the difference.

And make certain you know something of the background of who gives you advice. Not everyone's skill levels are the same and a response from an anonymous poster on an email list or a message board may not be all that reliable.

22 February 2010

Updates and Loose Ends

We (I) am in the process of updating all the missing entries from "Genealogy Tip of the Day."

Those interested can follow us or subscribe using the links on the right hand side of the page. We have a Facebook Fans page too, which I will link to later today.


The Ins and Outs

Remember that for every ancestor who owned a piece of property, there should be an "in" when the property was obtained, or went into his possession and an "out" when the property left his possession.

Make certain you have each one.

And don't assume your city dwelling ancestors never owned any property. Even records on a small plot may be helpful.

21 February 2010

Look at Every Level

We often get focused on records at one level of jurisdiction.

Keep in mind that there might be town or city records, county records, state records, and federal records of your ancestor.

Any could give you the break you need. Never assume that state or federal records are not going to help you on your ancestor. Military records and pensions are often state or federal records and these can be especially informative. Military veterans or their spouses often applied for benefits as they aged and the restrictions were loosened up.

20 February 2010

Take a Free Trial--Some Advice

Many genealogy pay-for sites offer free trials. Here are a few pieces of advice:

  • Get the free trial when you will actually have time to use it
  • Keep track of the credit card used to "hold" the free trial
  • They will bill you if you do not contact them and have them cancel
  • Mark your calendar for 2 days before it expires. That is the day you decide.
  • If the expire date falls on a Sunday or Saturday, always plan to call on at least the Friday before that date, preferably on Thursday.

Of course, if you aren't going to cancel, then it is not a problem.

19 February 2010

A source for every statement of fact

Sometimes it is easy to criticize those who insist on a "source for every fact." However, having started to do this on a few of my lines, I have learned one thing. It has forced me to correct many things I have either transcribed or remembered incorrectly.

It may be heresy to say this, but the world won't end if your citations are not perfect. However, they should lead you or someone else back to the original.

Going back and getting the actual information right may even cause you to break down those brick walls that were accidentally created by the researcher themself. Of course, this never happens to me---just other people!

18 February 2010

Did the Reason Die With Them?

Some things leave behind absolutely no record and those who know either never tell or it never gets written down.

It is possible that some secrets or stories will never be uncovered.

However, that does not mean we stop trying to find the answers and that we don't analyze records as completely as possible.

Just know that there are limitations to ever search and some people will never be found.

Just don't stop looking and keep learning about new sources.

17 February 2010

Check that Date!

For some reason, I thought today was my great-grandmother Ufkes' birthday. I am not certain where I got it in my head that her birthday was 17 February, but I did.

Unless you are certain--CHECK!

I was partially correct--Trientje Maria Janssen was born on the 17th, but it was 17 April, not February.

16 February 2010

Are there Gaps?

Genealogy tip of the Day readers know that sometimes there are gaps in the tips (I'm working to fix them).

However, the gaps make an excellent point. When viewing records that are filed chronologically pay attention to filing dates, dates of record, etc. Are there gaps? If so, it could indicate missing or misfiled records?

Do not JUST look for NAMES and only names. Context is everything---in more ways than one.

15 February 2010

Flip it Over

If you have a newspaper clipping that is undated and unsourced, flip it over. Anything can be a potential clue as to location or date, even classified ads.

One obit I found in a set of clippings had a date, but no name of the newspaper. Flipping it over I found the classified ads. The phone numbers and street names told me it was from a nearby town of 40,000 and not one of the small towns near where the relative actually died.

14 February 2010

Start Small

Is compiling the "whole genealogy" too overwhelming for you? Instead start with just one ancestor and compile everything you know about him or her. Work chronologically, documenting every fact.

Expand to the children of the ancestor. Once that's compiled, consider submitting it for publication in a local genealogical society publication or journal. That way it gets preserved.

Then go from there.

13 February 2010

A Warantee (Land Records)

A warrantee is someone to whom a warrant for land has been issued. The warrant could have been issued for military service, some other service, or outright purchase. Just because someone got a warrant does not mean they actually were the person who settled the land. That person was the patentee.

12 February 2010

11 February 2010

A Grantee

On a land record, a grantee is the person who purchases, acquires, or is otherwise receiving the property.

10 February 2010

Definition Mortgagee

On an old mortgage, the mortgagee is the person who is loaning the money. It might not always be a bank, it might be a family member, neighbor, etc. And could always be a clue as to a potential associate of your ancestor.

09 February 2010

Legal Definition

When using a term in an old record--ask yourself if you are using the term and understanding the term in the legal context in which it was used and at the time in which it was used.

Not everything is written from a 21st century perspective.

08 February 2010

Did Cousin Ken Get the Whole Thing?

Are you using Civil War pension papers that cousin Ken got fifteen or twenty years ago? Did he get the complete set or just the "genealogically relevant" ones? The complete set may contain information not shown in the "relevant" pages.

And if you've never heard of the "complete" set and didn't know it existed, it's time to do a little searching.