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31 January 2013

She Wouldn't Have a Probate File

Never assume that a relative would not have had a probate file. A relative of mine had an estate opened for them after their death in the 1920s only because there was a $50 savings bond in her name that had to be sold.

The records still listed all the heirs and their county of residence at the time of her death.

30 January 2013

Does It Really Mean It Happened?

A marriage license does not mean a couple actually got married. It means they requested permission to get married. A marriage record indicates they get married. A declaration of intention does not indicate a person actually became a citizen. A naturalization record does. Filing a homestead claim does not mean a person actually got the property. A final patent issued for the land does.

Think about exactly what a record means and, more importantly, what it does not mean.

29 January 2013

Did They Bother to Naturalize?

Your immigrant ancestor might not have even bothered to become an American citizen--particularly before the naturalization reform of 1906. Voting was the main benefit that came from citizenship. Unnaturalized aliens could own property, bequeath property, etc. without becoming American citizens. If you are unable to locate a naturalization for your 19th century American immigrant and you have looked diligently for it, it may that your relative never bothered to naturalize.

28 January 2013

Get Out In the Neighborhood

Regardless of the person, the location, or the record, look at the surrounding entries in any record book. If you've found one deed, perhaps a relative had more than one recorded at the same time. If you've found someone in the census, other names on the page may be relatives. If you've found a relative's farm in a county atlas or plat book, look at owners on neighboring properties. If you ancestor obtained Federal land, look at the people who obtained nearby properties.

Sometimes there are clues sitting for the taking in "nearby" records.

27 January 2013

Take A Day Off

If you research every day, take a day or two off. You might come back refreshed and with  new insight.

26 January 2013

Archive.org Webinar Released

We just uploaded our recorded and updated webinar on "Using Archive.org." Archive.org contains free scans of thousands of books, thousands of rolls of National Archives microfilm, and much more. We discuss searching techniques, navigating through the website, and finding that specific roll of microfilm. You can order the webinar securely here for only $4.50. A download link will be sent immediately.

Naturalized Under the 17 July 1862 Act

This act of the US Congress allow Union army veterans to become naturalized citizens after living in the United States for only 1 year. This was a change from the necessity to reside in the United States for seven years before naturalizing. If your ancestor naturalized under the 17 July 1862 act, it means he had been honorably discharged from the US army.

25 January 2013

Write it Sloppy and Write it Fancy

Looking for alternate renderings of your last name? Write it in a sloppy or fancy fashion and then ask two or three people to read your handwriting.

You might be surprised at the results and you may get some new search terms to put in those "last name" boxes when searching.

24 January 2013

Are You the Problem?

While it rarely happens, is it possible that you are wrong or that you are doing something incorrectly? I spent ten minutes "trying" to get the image viewer at FamilySearch to go to image 183 on a set of probate record images. The problem was that I wanted "page 183" and since there were two "pages" on an "image," there was not even 183 images in the set of records.  No matter how many times I typed 183 nothing worked. It was only after stopping and thinking that I realized I was doing something incorrectly.

Sometimes you are right....and sometimes you are not.

It happens to all of us.

23 January 2013

At the Same Time

If your ancestor naturalized, did you look to see what other individuals naturalized on the same day? Don't stop at your relatives entry and go on to other things. See if there were additional naturalizations performed on the same day. Those people, particularly if they were from the same country as your ancestor, may have been relatives or associates.

22 January 2013

Did Grandma Tell You Everything?

You might have thought the world of your Grandmother and she might have thought the world of you. That does not necessarily mean that she told you the truth about your great-grandfather. She might have thought you did not need to know the truth or did not even know the truth herself. Don't let your affection for a relative cloud your perception about what they told you about a long-deceased family member.

21 January 2013

Empty Those Frames

Is there a second picture hiding in that picture frame? Sometimes photographs will be placed on top of the photo that was already in the frame or pieces of paper will be stuck in the frame as well--underneath the picture. One never knows what clues may be hidden in a picture frame.

20 January 2013

What Age Could They Do That?

Selling real property, getting married, being a witness, and other "legal" acts usually require the person to have arrived at a certain age. Think about the date when a relative performed any legal act and remember that legally he or she would have had to have been a certain age.

Are you using that as a clue?

19 January 2013

They Are Out of Order

Even if unindexed  records appear to be in some "order," there is always the chance that one or more entries is "out of order." A stray entry may appear at the end of the items or stuck in a portion of the record where they would not be expected to be.

18 January 2013

Have the Original?

If you are completely certain you have exhausted every source on an ancestor, go back and review your material. Is there any piece of information you have that is from a transcription of a document or record? Could that transcription be wrong or incomplete? Even if you are not "stuck" on an ancestor and "think you know everything," consider getting the actual record if you only have a transcription. You may be surprised at what you discover.

17 January 2013

No Scraps

If you have notes, research ideas, or other genealogical material on "scraps" of paper, convert it an easier to file and organize size, enter the information in your research notes, or digitize the information.

Regardless of how you "convert" it, get it off the "scrap." Scraps easily get lost, never to be found again.

Using slips of paper is a great way to lose an idea or a record after you've found it.

16 January 2013

Order in the Records

When looking at original records, determine (as best you can) what the "order" is to how the names are listed. Are the entries made chronologically in the order in which they happened? Are the items recorded in the order in which the records were brought to the clerk? Did the census taker walk through the neighborhood asking questions? Was the list "cleaned up" and put in rough alphabetical order? Were people separated by townships, parishes, etc.?

15 January 2013

Turn Off the Computer

This takes turning off the internet one step further. Simply peform some analysis with your computer off. You will need printed copies of some materials of course, but some analysis can be done without using electronics. Brainstorming and creating a list of ideas and possibilities can be done without the computer. And, for some of us, it is one huge distraction that sometimees gets in the way.

14 January 2013

Turn Off the Internet

If you are stuck on a research problem, try working on it offline for at least an hour--maybe even more. Organizine and analyze what you already have. Transcribe documents. Confirm family structure. If research ideas come to you while doing this, write them down or type them in some sort of document. But do not perform any online searches. The constant temptation to "search" may be hindering your progress.

13 January 2013

My Non-Association With the Defendant in the Cyndislist Suit

In answer to rumors that have been submitted as comments on this blog. I am not associated in any way, shape, or form with the owner of MyGenShare. Period.

I have known Cyndi Howells for nearly fifteen years and consider her to be a personal friend. Please find out the details before making accusations. Good grief.

Here is a post I posted on Rootdig.com when news of the suit broke:

"Rules are made to be broken. I don't normally post news here, but am going to make an exception in this case.

Cyndi Howells, webmistress of Cyndislist.com has filed suit against Barry J. Ewell and MyGenshare.com in a Western Washington District Court. The case was filed on 21 December 2012.

Based upon the information on Justia.com, Howells' suit is based on a perceived violation of her copyright.

A link to very basic information about the case can be viewed here on Justia.com.

I've known Cyndi Howells since Cyndislist was one page and hope her case has the desired outcome.

Cyndi cannot comment on pending litigation and I hope that blog readers understand that and respect Cyndi's need to remain silent on the issue at this time. Besides, I'm certain she has links that need to be updated.

[Comments on this post have been disabled as this is an informational posting only.]

Webinars-Using Google Books & Ancestry.com Census Searching

We have just recorded new versions of two of our most popular webinars--full of practical, easy-to-follow, down-to-earth advice from a researcher who lives in the real world. And, we have just enough humor to keep you paying attention.

All at a price that is the real world as well--our low prices don't mean low quality. Please forward this message to your genealogy friends--that helps to keep our prices the lowest in the business.

Using Google Books

Access millions of printed pages right from your computer desktop. In this presentation we see how to search books on Google Books, how to interact with them (Google gives you options), and why you should search for just about everything. Presented in a clear, straightforward manner, see why even your run-of-the-mill ancestor might appear in Google Books--even if he doesn't appear in the county history. Of course, most of those are on Google Books as well.

Order our January 2013 version of Using Google Books" for only $4.50--our introductory rate through 13 January 2013. Don't wait!

Census Searching At Ancestry.com

Learn tricks and techniques for searching the census at Ancestry.com from someone who uses Ancestry.com nearly every day and doesn't work for Ancestry.com. We aren't trying to sell subscriptions or tell you it all works perfectly. I give you practical tips, suggestions, and ideas from someone who uses the Ancestry.com census indexes every day in actual research.

Order our January 2013 version of "Census Searching at Ancestry.com" for only $4.50--our introductory rate through 13 Jaunary 2013. Don't wait. 

Only $9.00 gets both these presentations. 



No More Precision

Do not indicate more precision for an event than is stated or clearly implied in the record. Doing so may at the very least be incorrect and at the very worst, be incorrect and lead you down the wrong path. If a marriage record only indicates the county in which the marriage took place, then only record the county. The marriage may not have taken place where you "think" it did. Remember, if you were present at an 1850 wedding, then you know where it took place. 

If information allows you to infer (with reasonable certainty) a more precise location, then your notes should include that discussion.

12 January 2013

Map It

Put all your ancestor's residences on the same map. Compare it to your chronology. Is there a chance they might have stopped somewhere "in between" two places and left records of some type? If the locations are urban with street addresses, make certain you have contemporary materials.

11 January 2013

Read a Definition

Is there a legal term or arcane word you have used in your research and you "know" what it means because you've always "known" it? Are you certain what it means? Are you completely positive about the definition? Is there a chance that there is a nuance to the meaning of which you are unaware? Consider looking up a definition. You may confirm your knowledge or end up educating yourself.

10 January 2013

Go Back

How long has it been since you looked at various websites for archives, libraries, and other repositories containing materials that could be used in your search.

Any chance that they've added databases or finding aids since your last visit? Some sites (like some people) promote themselves repeatedly---others quietly go about their work and could have made significant additions since your last visit.

09 January 2013

Save 40% on GenealogyBank--Our Sponsor

I often blog about items I've discovered in GenealogyBank--sponsor of Genealogical Tip of the Day. There is a wealth of genealogical information there as close as your computer. Tip readers can subscribe to GenealogyBank at a 40% discount off the normal rate. Give it a try and see what you can discover about your ancestors. There's more than obituaries waiting for you.

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Disappearing Grandmas or Grandpas?

If an older relative "disappears," consider the possibility that they might have been institutionalized.If the person got to where the family simply could not care for the person at home, your relative may have been institutionalized and died a distance from where they actually lived.

08 January 2013

If You Didn't Write It, Cite It

In the best interest of giving credit where credit is due and to reduce the chance you plagiarize someone else's work, cite whatever you did not write yourself and quote the original author directly. And cite all records you use in your research--otherwise you will have no idea where the information was obtained. Was it from a reliable record or was it written on the back of a dime store receipt you found in Grandma's bible?

07 January 2013

Empty Spaces at the Cemetery

Are there "empty" spaces in your family's lot of graves in the cemetery? Is it possible that there are unmarked burials. The cemetery may (or may not) have records of burials even if no stone was erected after the funeral.

06 January 2013

Never Really Changed the Name

If your male ancestor died, is it possible that the mother married again and that her children with the first husband are listed in subsequent records with their step-father's last name? Children could easily be enumerated in census records with the mother and actual step-father under his last name with no real indication that he was not the biological father and regardless of whether he legally adopted them or not.

05 January 2013

Did It Really Happen There?

When you cannot find a record in the expected location, ask yourself if you are really certain the event took place in that spot. Do you have good information to cause you to believe that or are you operating under a hunch? That hunch could be wrong. Did a couple go a distance from home to elope? Did your great-grandparents live in another state for a year and that's where one child was born? Was great-grandma living with a daughter out of state when she died? The event may not have taken place where you think it did--especially if if happened one hundred years before you were born.

04 January 2013

My Blogs

For those who are new...

I currently write and maintain the following blogs:

  • Genealogy Tip of the Day  http://genealogytipoftheday.blogspot.com/ 
    • One quick tip every day on a wide variety of topics--meant to be short, quick, and to the point.
  • Rootdig.com http://rootdig.blogspot.com
    • Postings on a variety of research topics--difficulties with websites, quick analysis of records or sources, some opinion, research methdology, etc. No press releases, no "news," and no posting  of offers from database providers, equipmentn sellers, etc.
  • Genealogy Transcriber http://genealogytranscriber.blogspot.com
    • One piece of handwriting posted everyday--can you read it?
  • Search Tip of the Day  http://genealogysearchtip.blogspot.com/
    • A database search tip--published irregularly--not really every day, but I don't post something just so I can say i posted something every day. Focuses on database and web searching.
  • Casefile Clues Blog http://blog.casefileclues.com
    • A blog that complements my fee-based how-to newsletter, Casefile Clues.

Viewing or subscribing to the above blogs are free.

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A surety is one serves as a guarantor on bond or other obligation such as a debt. If the person signing the bond performs their obligation, the surety does not have to "do anything." If the person pays their debt, the surety does not have to pay it. If the person signing the bond does not perform as indicated on the bond, the surety is at financial or legal risk. The the person who is supposed to pay the debt does not pay, the surety becomes obligated.

03 January 2013

Dower Versus Dowry

A dower is that part of a husband's property that the law assigns to his wife. On land records, the wife may relinquish her dower rights when the real estate is sold. A dowry is usually property that the bride (or her family) brings to the marriage.

02 January 2013

How Easy To Confuse

In some locations, there are places that have similar sounding names that could easily be confused. Did someone confuse Bedford and Bradford Counties in Pennsylvania? Did someone confuse Williamsfield in Illinois with Williamstown?

A few letters may not "really" change the sound, but they may very well change the location by a hundred miles or more.

Happy 2013 from Genealogy Tip of the Day

We're a just under the wire in wishing readers a "Happy New Year."

Happy 2013! Hopefully you are ready to continue your family history discoveries in the new year.

 Fans and viewers have called our webinars one of the best genealogical bargains around. Today, to celebrate the beginning of 2013, we're offering a coupon code through 11:45 PM 2 January 2013 that will reduce your webinar purchase price by 60%.

Coupon code is yearend

View the list of webinars here:


This is the last webinar email you will receive from this email address--if you would like updates about webinar offerings, please email casefileclues@gmail.com to be added. 

Thanks for your support in 2012! It is appreciated.


01 January 2013

Refresh, Review and Remind

The first of the year is a good time to look at a problem (or two) that you've not looked at in some time, reviewing the material and reminding yourself of the key elements of the problem.

Consider putting away for a while some families that have given you difficulties and work on a person or situation you have ignored for some time. Letting it sit for a while may allow you to come back with a fresh perspective.

Happy 2013!