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31 December 2010

Sale on complete set of Casefile Clues Back Issues

We are currently running a sale on the first 68 issues of my weekly how-to newsletter, Casefile Clues, which sponsors Genealogy Tip of the Day. Click here for more information.

We'll be back with a new tip tomorrow, ready to start off 2012!

Read a Book

I have been reading First Generations: Women in Colonial America for the past several days. It has given me some insight into the Colonial experience of women and cause to think about a few things in ways I never have. Is there a history text or sociological study that might expand your knowledge even if it doesn't directly expand your family tree?

30 December 2010

Resolutions for 2011

Think about your genealogy resolutions for 2011. Pick one small one that you can reasonably obtain. Write it down on a post-it note and put it on your computer. If it won't fit on a post-it note, it's probably too long!

29 December 2010

Is Each Piece of Paper for the Same Person?

When locating records and putting them in your files, make certain that just because the "name's the same," that you actually have the same person. Make certain age, location, implied social status and other information "match." Sometimes records that you think are on the same person, are actually referring to two separate people with the same or similar names.

28 December 2010

Genealogy Tip of the Day's Sponsor: Casefile Clues

Don't forget that Genealogy Tip of the Day is sponsored by my newsletter Casefile Clues. Casefile Clues discusses genealogy sources, methods, and practices, and cites it sources. There is more information on our blog http://blog.casefileclues.com/ or our website http://www.casefileclues.com/. Casefile Clues is not your typical how-to newsletter. Samples are free by sending an email to samples@casefileclues.com.

What Do the Kids Think Is Mother's Maiden Name?

Remember that the children may not know their mother's maiden name and what they do know is not first-hand information. They may think their mother's step-father was her actual father. They may never have met her father and may have a totally "mixed" up version of the name in their head as a result. Or they may be entirely correct about their mother's maiden name. It depends upon a lot of factors, but keep in mind that information children provide about their mother's maiden name is not first hand information.

27 December 2010

My "Now" Wife

Just because your ancestor uses the phrase "my now wife" in his will, it does not mean he had to have been married twice. A man might use the phrase to make it clear to whom a bequest was being made. If his will said "to my now wife I leave my farm for her life and at her demise it to go to my children" that meant his wife at the time he wrote his will. He might have been concerned that if he remarried and his "then wife" married again that his real property might fall out of his family's hands.

26 December 2010

One Wrong Letter Makes a Difference

A relative claimed he was born in Fort Huron. The actual location was Port Huron. One letter makes a difference, even more noticeable at the beginning of a word.

25 December 2010

Track the "Whys" of Your Research

It is important somewhere to keep track of your research logic as you progress. Otherwise you might not remember "why" you are researching a certain person.

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

Name Split in the Wrong Place?

The man's name was Mel Verslius. His World War 2 draft card accidentally listed him as Melver Sluis before they made the correction. Any chance your ancestor's name "got split" in the wrong place?

Merry Christmas from Tip of the Day

Season's Greetings from Genealogy Tip of the Day. Enjoy your time with the living relatives this holiday season. Your ancestors will still be waiting....(grin!).

23 December 2010

Did They Cross the Wrong Letter?

If your ancestor's last name has a "t" in it, did the "cross" on the "t" over another letter and "change" the name? My Butlers became Butters for that very reason.

22 December 2010

6 Hour Holiday Offer on Casefile Clues-$14.50!

Offer expired! Thanks. You can subscribe at our regular annual rate of $17.00 at http://www.casefileclues.com/subscribe.html

Do You Have the Correct Database?

Always make certain you know what you are searching.  I recently wasted nearly fifteen minutes searching for someone in the 1900 census before I realized the database I was actually querying was the 1930 census.

21 December 2010

Create an Ancestral Resume

Most of us use chronologies in our ancestral research--consider making a resume for your ancestor. List what years he worked what jobs. Census and city directories are great ways to start getting this information, but death certifiates, obituaries, estate inventories, etc. all may give occupational clues.

Don't pad your ancestral resume like you might your own. Stick to documentable facts (grin!).

20 December 2010

Vote for Genealogy Tip of the Day for Top 40

Don't forget today is the last day to vote for "Genealogy Tip of the Day" as one of the top 40 genealogy blogs. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ft40-2011voting

They are encouraging multiple voting--I think someone on staff is a Chicago native.

Try Searching Without Names

Some database search interfaces allow users to search on other fields besides names. If the site you are using allows this, consider searching on ages, places of birth, father's place of birth, etc. I've made some interesting discoveries without entering in any nanes on a set of search boxes.

19 December 2010

How Complete is that Database?

Before you spend hours searching an online database, determine how complete the database is. Some sets of data include all records in a specific series. Others may be in progress, only including part of the time span the title covers. The webpage title may say the materials are from 1850 to 1950, with 1850-1855, 1870-1880, and 1940-1950 being included. Always read the details.

18 December 2010

What Day of the Week Was It?

Take a look at a perpetual calendar and see what day of the week your ancestor was married, died, etc. People might have avoided getting married on a certain day of the week or having a funeral on a certain day, but being born and dying are different.

17 December 2010

Heir Versus Legatee

While state statute usually defines these terms, it is generally true that an heir of a deceased person is someone who inherits from the deceased based upon their biological relationship to the deceased. A legatee is typically someone whom the deceased has mentioned in their will. Heirs are related. Legatees may be related.

16 December 2010

Did the Courthouse Already Transcribe Your Document?

Don't forget if you have found that will in the packet of probate papers for your ancestor that there might be a "will record" contained with the probate records as well. Not all jurisdictions kept these records, but many did. Perhaps if the will has a difficult to read portion, is partially missing, or open to interpretation, the transcription in the "will record," done at the time the will was proved, will answer your questions.

15 December 2010

Names of All the Grandchildren

Repeated names can be clues to names of earlier family members. Repeated names are not guaranteed to mean that any given ancestor had a particular name, but names used over and over may mean something.

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

Nominated for the Family Tree 40

Genealogy Tip of the Day has been nominated for one of the Family Tree Top 40 blogs. Remember that Tip of the Day is not about being long-winded, selling stuff, or dreaming up things we've never done or used. Just quick tips.

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.

Same Name Does Not Mean Same Person

It does not matter how "odd" the name is, even if one detail fits. A very distant relative of mine claimed online that my aunt died in Chicago in 1935, because he found someone with her same name dying there.

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

Did They Run Back Home?

While tracking a relative through census records, it appears that she left Missouri shortly before her first marriage. Forty years later, after a divorce, she appears in that county in one census record. If I had not known where her family was from, her residence there would have seemed pretty random. Now I'm reminded that occasionally when a residence seems "random" that there might just be something I don't know.

12 December 2010

First Name Translations

Keep in mind that if your ancestor "translated" his or her name they might have used conventional translations others from their ethnic area used or they might have made up their own. Some non-English names had common translations (Jans and Johann for John, for example) and others did not (the Greek Panagiotis, for example). Some individuals just might take an English name that had the first letter as their original name. I have relatives whose names were actually Trientje. Some used Tena because it had part of the same sound. Others used Katherine as the names have the same original root. It just depends.

People had options of what name they could use if they chose to translate.

11 December 2010

Grandma's Not Primary for Her Birth Information

Remember that Grandma is not considered someone who can provide primary information about her own date and place of birth. It's not that she is necessarily wrong, but that most people are not typically considered to be firsthand witnesses of their own birth.

10 December 2010

Where They Knew No One

We often suggest to researchers that people move in groups and settle where they know someone. And most of the time people do. Keep in mind that once in a while people move where they know absolutely no one. One ancestral couple could not be located. They simply evaporated. They were not near any of their chidlren, any of his siblings, or any of her siblings. They migrated to an area of Missouri where no one they knew lived. Sometimes it does happen.

09 December 2010

Local Library

Have you contacted the local library in the town/county where your ancestors lived? Is it possible they have access to resources that aren't available elsewhere or aren't online? Or do they know of any unique suggestions for research in their local area?

08 December 2010

Unusual Combinations May Just Be A Fluke

Don't assume that just because the names are "close" that they have to be a match. I was looking for information on a William Bell who married a Martha Sargent in Iowa. Turns out there was another William Bell in the same part of Iowa who married a Lorinda Sargent. Totally two separate couples from two separate families. How many William Bells can marry a Sargent and live a few counties away from each other? Apparently two. Two distinct ones.Remember that sometimes there is a relationship and sometimes there is not.

07 December 2010

Don't Get Too Hung Up On Ages In Indexes

Don't get too hung up on using ages or years of birth in online indexes. A 8 can look like a 5, or vice versa. That can easily age someone thirty years or shave thirty years off their age.

06 December 2010

Are You Reading and Paying Attention?

Are you really reading, thinking about, and interpreting the information you have found? Or are your eyes merely passing over the words, looking for that obvious clue? Sometimes the biggest clues are not "obvious." Go back and re-read and think about what a document says. Are there clues you bypassed the first time you "sped read" that record?

05 December 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things

When a child gives information on their parent, it comes from second hand knowledge. It also could be given decades after the event took place. This information can be incorrect, but keep in mind the child did not witness parental birth information first hand. Even erroneous places should not be ignored however as there may be a reason for the wrong place of birth. Children of one ancestor always said she was born in Illinois, which was correct. Except for one record which said she was born in Ohio. Years later, I learned the parents met in Ohio, married there and immediately moved. Ohio was wrong, but it was a clue.

04 December 2010

Do You Know What All Those Search Options Do?

When using a search option at an online database, do you know how that site implements wildcard searches, Soundex searches, and other search options? Getting creative with search terms is often necessary, but if you don't know how they are really working, you are not being effective. Experiment and look at your results and see if you are getting what you think you should. A Soundex search for the last name Smut on a site with English language last names should result in a large number of hits. And if you don't know why, then review what Soundex really is.

03 December 2010

Is It Worth the Time to Find It?

Are you spending too much time looking for a specific record that might not really even help your research all that much? There's a couple for whom I cannot find their mid-1800 passenger list entry. After some thought, I'm not really certain I need it. I have a good idea of where the family is from in Europe as I know where the husband's brother was born. I know what children the couple had and where they settled. The mid-1800 passenger list probably isn't going to tell me where they were from. And after having spent several hours trying to find them, it may be best to work on locating other records. Sometimes it is necessary to realize that it may be time to work on other things.

02 December 2010

Vowel and Consonant Interchanged?

It's easy for most researchers to realize that vowels can easily get interchanged in a name resulting in variant spellings. Soundex searches ignore vowels in an attempt to get around this problem. Remember that consonants and vowels can get interchanged as well, particularly if the handwriting is not all that great. These variations can be particularly troublesome until the researcher realizes it. Trautvetter often gets transcribed as "Trantvetter" when the "u" is read as an "n." Are vowel and consonant interchanges causing your problems when doing searches?

01 December 2010

Abbreviated the First Names

Is it possible that in the census or other record your relatives' names have been abbreviated or that just initials have been used. One family is enumerated in the 1880 census with only their initials and another has their first names abbreviated on their 1853 passenger manifest.