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31 December 2014

Was Great-Great-Grandma in the DAR?

If she was, her application papers could provide valuable research clues, even if you have no interest in joining the DAR. Older applications were approved with less stringent standards than today, but there may still be pieces of information contained in those applications that is unavailable elsewhere.

Casefile Clues Back Issues---Start 2015 Off By Enhancing Your Research Skills

Quite a few Genealogy Tip of the Day followers are Casefile Clues subscribers, so we're posting this here for those who may have missed our announcement elsewhere.

I've streamlined the order and download process for back issues of Casefile Clues. If you'd like to order back issues, please visit this page to do so. Download is immediate and you get the entire set at once. No longer do you have to wait for me to send you back issues.

If you have questions or are missing back issues that you ordered, please let me know. You can learn more about Casefile Clues here--and you can join our subscriber family as well.


30 December 2014

Was That Really Her Maiden Name?

What someone indicated was great-grandma's "maiden" name may not have been the last name of her biological father. It could also have been the last name of her:

  • step-father
  • adopted father
  • first husband
Sometimes what someone thinks is someone's maiden name may not be, especially if the person in question (or her mother) was married more than once. 

29 December 2014

Formerly Known as in the Final Accounting

Final receipts and accountings in court and probate records may mention last names that married females did not have when the case was initiated.

Daughters get married and widows find new husbands. Court accountings may mention these new names and explain why someone "disappears."

These references can be especially helpful in time periods and locations where marriage records are not extant.

28 December 2014

Consider the Consideration

The consideration on a land record is what changed hands in order to pay for the real estate being transferred. If the consideration is "love and affection," "natural love," or a token money amount, try and determine what relationship existed between the grantors and the grantees.

Land records with token amounts are frequently used to transfer land between family members, but not always. The challenge for the researcher is that these records don't specify the relationship.

After all, everyone alive at the time already knew what those relationships were.

27 December 2014

Fast, Easy Cheesy Citations

After learning the hard way, I always copy the "wrapper" on any legal document of which I make copies. In addition to usually indicating what the document actually is, there will be a filing date and other details of the case.

Making a copy or taking a picture means I don't have to write all that information down.

But I do need to capture it so that I can later cite the records used.

It's fast. It's easy and gets the job done when you're researching on site and time is of the essence.

26 December 2014

One Goal for 2015-One Is Enough

Goals about solving specific problems are not really good ones to set for a variety of reasons. Instead of making "solving" a specific problem your goal, set this one instead: organize and re-analyze everything that I've already collected on that family and ask (or hire) someone to help me with that problem.

That's probably more work than solving a specific problem anyway and may lead in directions you never expected.

25 December 2014

Don't ignore the living

In your quest to find the dead, don't forget that the living may hold clues that are only in their head and preserved no where else. Go back and reinterview family members after you have done some research. Your findings may jar loose long forgotten memories.

And also remember that the human mind is the most fragile genealogical resource there is.

Happy Holidays 2015!

24 December 2014

Counting the Cattle

When I was a kid, my dad and I would count the cattle as they crossed the road from one pasture to another. It was important to arrive at the same correct number. The only problem was that my father tended to count out loud and his counting always got me off.

Is part of the reason for your research difficulty that you are listening  to what someone else has already concluded? Are you letting their interpretations influence yours--perhaps a little too much? Sometimes it's helpful to put away the conclusions of others and start your analysis from scratch.

Then, when you're done counting your cows separately, you can compare your conclusions with others.

23 December 2014

Seasons Greetings and My Blogs

Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, etc. to all my blog readers and followers-your support is greatly appreciated.
Hopefully your
genealogy bucket
is full this year!

For those who were not aware, I write several genealogy blogs--all of which can be viewed for free. Those blogs are:

Genealogy Tip of the Day--one genealogy tip every day

Daily Genealogy Transcriber--one piece of handwriting to interpret every day

Casefile Clues--the free blog that corresponds to my newsletter, Casefile Clues

Search Tip of the Day--actually whenever the "spirit" moves

Rootdig--whatever crosses my genealogy desk--only things I actually use or buy myself--I don't mention or "plug" it if I don't use it myself.

Enjoy--the blogs and research tips!

Deed Records Are Not Just Deeds

Deeds and mortgages are not the only items recorded in the county recorder of deeds offices in many United States' counties.

Affidavits regarding ownership to property can also be recorded and sometimes can provide key details about the family involved. This 1909 affidavit mentions when the original owner died and when and from whom he obtained his property.

22 December 2014

Our Fresh Content Pledge

[this was posted to my other blogs, but thought it appropriate to post to this blog as well]

All content on Rootdig.com, Genealogy Tip of the Day and my other blogs is self-written. It is not copied and pasted from the work of others and originates from my own keyboard. Like many writers, I do get writing ideas from other blogs and bloggers, but that's about as far as the "getting" content from others goes. I try very hard to respect the creative rights and copyright of other writers and bloggers. Copyright matters. Respecting the intellectual property of others matters.  It's not just a legal matter, it's an ethical matter.

That's our "fresh-content" pledge.

Tips may be similar over time---but I never recycle them and usually write them as I'm actually researching.

Grandma's Signature--Or Not?

Is that really your ancestor's signature?

This early 20th century court document may look like it contains the signatures of Nancy, William, and Amanda Rampley, but that writing actually looks like that of the attorney, Charles J. Scofield.

It's always advised to compare any writing you think is your relative's to that of others on the same page.

What you think is theirs may not be.

CSI-Genealogy 2015

Plans are well underway for CSI-Genealogy to be held in Galesburg, Illinois. I'm excited to be a part of this 4.5 day genealogical learning experience in the Midwest--28 May through 1 June 2015.

We've been busy and hope you'll be able to join us!

Recent updates:

There's general information on the blog at http://www.sandburggenealogy.com

21 December 2014

Buried Separately?

One of my ancestral families and all their children and their children's spouses are buried in the same rural cemetery. The only exception is their daughter who died in her teens and is buried in a separate cemetery. The parents died in the 1880s and the other children died between 1895 and 1920. The daughter died in the 1860s before the cemetery where the others are buried was established. 

Never assume just because it looks like all of a family is buried in one cemetery that that they all are buried in one cemetery. There could be another child or sibling permanently lurking nearby.

20 December 2014

Digital Newspapers May Index Unindexed Court Records

An occasionally overlooked item in old newspapers are legal notices. Newspapers that have been digitized and indexed are a great way to find out about these records. Court records are still largely unindexed, but if all plaintiffs' and defendants' names appear in the newspaper notice, they'll be indexed. Court records are typically only indexed by the name of the first plaintiff and defendant.

The court indexes to records in this county doesn't contain an index entry for Neill--as it's not the name of the first defendant or first plaintiff.

Search for old newspapers at:

Maybe Not the Reason You Think

In December of 1905, my great-grandparents mortgaged a 1/10 interest in a piece of property, signing a five-year note. They paid it off in June of 1907. They may have paid it off early to save on the interest or they may have paid it off because in the summer of 1907 their mother wanted to sell the property and could not sell it with the mortgage unpaid.

Sometimes there's a reason why things happen when they do.

19 December 2014

Mortgages Without Deeds?

I almost overlooked a real property mortgage my great-grandparents executed in 1905. I didn't think they owned any real estate so saw no reason to look in the mortgage records.

However, they did use my great-grandmother's 1/10 interest in her father's farm as collateral for a mortgage. There never were any land deeds for the property in her name as the property was involved in an unrelated court action after the mortgage was paid off.

18 December 2014

Alphabetical Order Strips Clues

When looking at any original record, particularly one that has names in a list, analyze the other names on the list. Do the names appear to be in rough alphabetical order?

If so, the geographic clues inferred from "name proximity" really aren't there.

Unless people were living in approximate alphabetical order.

17 December 2014

Tips from a 1936 Wedding Announcement

This 1936 notice of my grandparents' wedding actually contains several tips, including:

  • watch newspapers for typos--Trautretter should be Trautvetter (important when using digital newspapers)
  • items were not always published right away (the announcement appeared two weeks after the marriage
  • check all newspapers in the area--not just one (I originally had not looked in the Mendon newspaper)
  • read between the lines ("Mrs. Ida Trautvetter" means that "Mr. Trautvetter" is somehow not in the picture)
  • couples may go a distance to elope (Keithsburg was not a marriage mecca, either)
  • couples may marry and go back to their parents' homes to live separately--at least for a time.
The couple in the wedding announcement are my paternal grandparents. 

16 December 2014

Abbreviate the Confusion

When taking notes, writing reports, and communicating with other researchers, avoid abbreviations wherever possible--especially "homemade" ones that you have dreamed up for your own convenience. That shortened version may make perfect sense to you, but it may not make sense to someone else. And even you, when reviewing your own notes years later, may have no idea what "HCDB" stands for.

 Sometimes abbreviations can be figured out from context, but not always. You don't want to be guessing and don't to make research more confusing than it already sometimes can be.

15 December 2014

Clarifying How to Get Our Freebies

Some readers have had difficulties with our freebie offer-so we've clarified.

Here is a summary of freebies we have:

  • 2 free copies of Casefile Clues--simply enter in your email address and "submit" order. There is no credit card or other personal information required. Copy 1    Copy 2
  • My Brick Walls A to Z Webinar (and handout)--click here to process order. Coupon code is "brickwall" no credit card or personal information except email address is required. 
  • You can subscribe to Genealogy Tip of the Day (free) by entering in your email address in the box on the right hand side of the blog page at http://genealogytipoftheday.blogspot.com/
  • You can subscribe to Genealogy Transcriber (free) and play along with others reading the handwriting at  http://genealogytranscriber.blogspot.com/. There is a subscription box on the right hand side of the page.
  • You can subscribe to Genealogy Search Tip (free) by entering in your email address in the box on the right hand side of the blog page at http://genealogysearchtip.blogspot.com/
Feel free to share with your friends, blog readers, etc. etc. 

You don't need any form of payment to get the downloads (the Casefile Clues and the "Brick Wall" webinar). Just follow the instructions on the illustration below--hit the "PayPal" button. No financial information will be required--just an email to have the download link sent to you as shown in the illustration.


Heading Back East for Fame and Fortune in 1893

People move--sometimes further than one really expects. Emma Cawiezell was a native of Davenport, Iowa, who went to New York City to become an actress around 1892.

She died there a year later. There were no family stories about her travelling to New York City and it took me a while to find her.

People sometimes leave their comfort zone searching a new career, a new life, or greener pastures?

Is it possible that your relative "up and moved" in some atypical fashion? Most of the Cawiezells were farmers in rural Scott County, Iowa.

I never dreamed one of them ended up in New York.

14 December 2014

Year Coverage Can Be Misleading

Many databases will be titled something like "Blah Blah Records of Blah Blah: 1800-1900." Always try and determine just years are really included in the database. It could be that the "Blah Blah Records of Blah Blah: 1800-1900" actually only contains entries for:

  • 1800-1820
  • 1845
  • 1860-1880
  • 1890-1900
Read the "more about," "FAQ," or whatever they call it to determine just how complete the database is. It does include records between 1800 and 1900, but there are gaps.

And of course, your person of interest lived in the area from 1830 until 1840...and his grandson lived there from 1892-1898.

13 December 2014

Use the Bullnozer to Push the Mullable Roses in the Bnure Pile

Did your relative have such an odd way of saying a word or a phrase that a census taker or clerk would be hard-pressed to spell it correctly? The reason you are unable to find a name that's clearly written on a record could be because your relative had a highly unusual way of saying it and the clerk simply did the best he could. The problem is compounded if the clerk was unfamiliar with your relative's family and simply wrote what he heard. Clerks in small towns are more often to know what someone really means when the use their own unique pronunciation.

Today's post title is how it would have sounded if my grandmother had said "Use the bulldozer to push the multiflora roses in the manure pile."

The sentence I made up. The pronunciations I'm not.

12 December 2014

Dead For How Long?

In older court records, a petition to begin the probate process won't always indicate when the deceased passed away. However state statute dictates how soon a will must be presented to probate and various time restrictions. Usually a will is brought within thirty days of the day the person passed away, but there can easily be exceptions. Contemporary state statute should lay out the time frame.

But never use the date a will was proved in court as a death date. It can and should be used as a "dead by" date.

11 December 2014

What Have You Preserved Today and How?

Do you have pictures or other ephemera that you've not tried to save in some way? Don't wait until it is too late.

For pictures, make certain to include identification if you have it, who made the digital image, where they got it, and who made identification. Those pieces of information are good ones to have for someone who may come across your image years later.

Note: Christena Ufkes Habben is a sister to my great-great-grandfather, Johann Ufkes (1838-1924).

10 December 2014

Genealogy Tip of the Day is Kindle Ready

Genealogy Tip of the Day readers who would like to receive our daily tips on their kindle can so do here.

Amazon.com does charge a small fee for this service.

Another Site Have Another Scan?

The Archive.org  scan of an Ohio Adjutant General report of War of 1812 for a unit of interest was a little difficult to read in spots. Ancestry.com had a scan of the same publication that was easier to read. It may have been made from a copy of the book that had seen less wear and was in better shape.
This is not to say that Archive.org is always bad and that Ancestry.com is always better--that's not the case. Sometimes it's the other way around.

It just pays to look in more than one place if the image you've located has portions that are difficult to read.

09 December 2014

Thanks to Our Sponsor: GenealogyBank

Genealogy Tip of the Day is sponsored by GenealogyBank. We appreciate their help in bringing to those of you in genealogyland.

Ok, that's not a word, but we're still grateful for their continued support!

I use my GenealogyBank membership on a regular basis.

Age on a Date?

If your ancestor states that he is aged 60 on 2 April 1900, that doesn't mean he was born in 1840.

Someone who says he was 60 on 2 April could have:

  • just turned 60 on 2 April, making his date of birth 2 April 1840
  • getting ready to turn 61 on 3 April, making his date of birth 3 April 1839.
Or anywhere in between.

That is assuming an age of 60 on 2 April 1900 was correct.

The accuracy of his age is another story altogether.

08 December 2014

Hung Up On One Record Type?

I spent years searching for the 1913 birth certificate of my wife's grandmother in Chicago. For some reason she apparently never had one. Fortunately she did have a christening record in the church where she was christened a few years later. My real goal was trying to obtain her date of birth and names of her parents.

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in that one record we can't locate and it may be helpful to think "what other records could provide the same information?"

That's even a good idea when we find the record type for which we are looking. Other records "of the same thing" may provide additional details or even conflict with the first record we located.

And it's always possible that the first record we located was wrong. If we never look for anything else, we may never know that!

93 Issues of Casefile Clues for $25

I'm offering 93 issues of Casefile Clues for $25.

Casefile Clues contains analysis, interpretation and how-to advice based on original documents and families I've encountered in my own research. Clearly written, organized, down-to-earth, and practical, it contains deeper analysis of items that run through this blog.

To view the list of issue titles and topics from Volume 3, visit this page.

Give yourself a genealogy gift this holiday season: 93 issues of Casefile Clues for $25. The first 41 issues will be in your inbox within a day or so of your order.

Casefile Clues is sent as a PDF file.

You can learn more about Casefile Clues  here.

07 December 2014

Not Quite Written In English?

If you are using English-language records, is it possible that the writer slipped in a non-English word or a word in a non-English script? A native German speaker may have written in English only to occasionally slip in a German word out of habit? Or did a native Swede write a last name in his native script? That confusing word may be confusing because it's not in English language or not in the English script.

06 December 2014

Those First Interactions in a New Area?

Look carefully at the names of other individuals who appear on legal documents with your ancestor during the first few years he lives in an area. Who are witnesses and other names mentioned in these documents? People with whom your ancestor is associating when he's not been in an area for too long could be people he knew "back home."

Let Others Know About Genealogy Tip of the Day

We don't actively "market" or promote Genealogy Tip of the Day.If you've found it helpful with your own research, or know of others who might benefit from it, please let them know about it.

We're always on the lookout for tips or suggestions that we can share with our readers. Those can be emailed at michael.john.neill@gmail.com.

Thanks! We appreciate those who help support Genealogy Tip of the Day. http://genealogytipoftheday.blogspot.com

05 December 2014

The Act Under Which They Applied

If your ancestor qualified for a military benefit (pension, bounty land, etc.) have you read the text of the act under which he qualified? There may have been certain service or age requirements that had to be met in order to qualify. The same is true if your ancestor's widow received a pension. Not all widows qualified and learning what widows did qualify under the act under which your ancestor applied may tell you something about your ancestor.

Assuming that they weren't lying on their application.

04 December 2014

Do You Have the Back of that Digital Image?

When you have the original document in your hands, it's easy to remember to "look at the back." But when you are using digital images of records, do you always remember to view the back of any item you use?

Some microfilm and digital images make it clear what's the back of each front. Others do not. It's always worth finding out what was on the back of that image when it was in its original form.

03 December 2014

CSI-Genealogy 2015

Registration for CSI-Genealogy 2015 on the campus of Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois continues. 
We are offering four classes:
CSI-Genealogy is from 28 May 2015-1 June 2015 at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois.

A Homestead Record Means You Should Look at the BLM Books

If you've located your ancestor's completed homestead record, search the Bureau of Land Management tract books for the area where his property was located. You will find an entry for his completed claim and other entries as well. There may be relatives who started the homestead process, but didn't complete it. Those incomplete files are at the National Archives and may hold clues about those "non-completers."

This post on my Rootdig blog contains more information on using these books.

02 December 2014

Take a Gander at the Old Tips

"Old" genealogy tips of the day are housed on our blog at http://genealogytipoftheday.blogspot.com. If you get the tip in your email, newsfeed, etc., go back and read through the earlier tips--you may find something there to help jumpstart your research.

And...thanks to all who continue to support Genealogy Tip of the Day. It is appreciated!

Naturalized Via the Parent?

When a man naturalized in the United States in the 19th and early 20th century, his minor children automatically became naturalized as well, even if their names are not listed in the naturalization. When foreign born Ekke Behrens applied for a homestead in Nebraska in the 1880s, he included his father's naturalization as proof of his citizenship. 

If you are unable to locate a naturalization for your foreign born ancestor, consider the possibility that his father's naturalization served as his naturalization as well.

01 December 2014

Did Your Ancestor Get a Patent?

Did your relative receive a patent from the United States Patent office? Google has digital images of United States patents with full-text search capabilities. Your ancestor may have received a patent without any story of the patent passing down to the current generation.

You can search 7 million patents at Google and even download images and schematics.

The text of older patents was converted to digital format by automatic OCR technology. Names and places may have been interpreted incorrectly so some clever searching may be in order.

Cyber Monday Genealogy Webinar Sale!

Give yourself the gift of genealogy education this holiday season. We're running a sale on my how-go genealogy webinars. Easy to follow, easy to understand and geared towards beginners with experience and intermediate researchers. Handout included!

Our $5 genealogy sales are running until 11:59 pm on 2 December! 

Don't wait! Download is immediate.

30 November 2014

Every Step in that Provenance

I wish I knew more of how this trunk came to my possession.

All I know is that it has my aunt's name on it (Ahltje Goldenstein) and her destination (Keokuk Junction, Ills.). I purchased it from an antique dealer about 10 years ago in Keokuk, Iowa. She would only say that she purchased it an estate sale and that it was wrapped in burlap when she got it.

That was all.

If you have ancestral ephemera or artifacts, have you documented their ownership from the first person to the present? It can help you and others determine if the story is true and it helps to preserve that ownership story for future generations

29 November 2014

Scribble It Down and Save the Scribbles

Write down the name you are looking for in several different ways, both in a neat and messy fashion. Think about how it could be read or interpreted. Consider asking someone else to write the name down for your and read their handwriting.  

Keep copies of how a name appears in various records. Ask your genealogy friends how they would read it. 

You may be surprised at the variants you get.

28 November 2014

My Blogs and Newsletters

The following are links to my blogs and newsletters:

  • Genealogy Tip of the Day--one short daily genealogy-related research tip. This usually focuses on offline sources, methods, analysis, terms, and organization. Free.
  • Casefile Clues--my PDF genealogy newsletter concentrating on genealogical sources, methodology and research. Subscription required.
  • Genealogy Transcriber--not always every day, but a signature or piece of writing where readers are encouraged to try their hand at interpreting. Free.
  • Genealogy Search Tip--periodic short tips for online searching or an occasional mention about a "new to me" website. Free.
  • Michael's Blog Updates-sent roughly every week with a summary of the my more recent blog posts, updates to popular topics, news of research trips/seminars and more. Free.
  • Rootdig.com-updates about research I'm doing, research frustrations, pitfalls, etc. Free.

Survey Plats

If your ancestor owned real property and you've already seen all the deeds, have you searched the recorder's office for surveys and plats? Surveys and plats may be done when roads or railroads are built through or adjacent to your ancestor's property. They may also be completed when a parcel is broken up into smaller pieces to settle an estate or if there is some sort of boundary dispute. The recorder's office may have land records besides deeds.


Thanks to those who have recently subscribed to Genealogy Tip of the Day. We are glad that you've joined us. Our tips go out daily--usually early in the morning central US time, but occasionally that varies.

Tips are usually short and come from actual research I'm working on. Occasionally we mention my subscription newsletter, Casefile Clues, or our sponsor GenealogyBank, because those things to help to pay the bills. I also blog at Rootdig.com as well.

We are thankful for those who offer Genealogy Tip of the Day  their continued support--thanks again and feel free to let others know about Genealogy Tip of the Day!

An Offer from Our Sponsor-$4.67 a Month for GenealogyBank

Our sponsor GenealogyBank is offering Genealogy Tip of the Day readers, fans, followers, etc. an annual membership rate that equates to $4.67 per month. Check it out.

And thanks to GenealogyBank  for continuing to sponsor Genealogy Tip of the Day.

27 November 2014

From Whom are They Borrowing?

If your landowning ancestor signs a mortgage for their farm to someone that's clearly not a bank or lending institution, determine if they had any relationship to that individual who held the mortgage. It could be they borrowed money from an in-law, step-parent, cousin or other family member. Not all loans that involve individual people (and not banks or lending companies) are between relatives, but it's worth checking out the possibility of a relationship.

And the mortgage won't indicate if the mortgagor and the mortgagee are related.

26 November 2014

Do You Know All the Borders?

Where the lines are can impact your research? County and township lines can change. Lines for enumeration districts in the census may or may not run contiguous to election districts, ward boundaries, and other political lines. Make certain you know all the borders in which your ancestors lived and when (or if) they ever changed.

25 November 2014

Is that Brother Full, Half, or Step?

If a document refers to two men as brothers is it possible that they are not full brothers? Could they be:

  • half-brothers?
  • step-brothers?
  • brothers-in-law?
Sometimes things might not mean exactly what we think they mean.

24 November 2014

Neighboring Stones

Tombstones in Bethany United Church of Christ Cemetery,
Tioga, Hancock County, Illinois; photo taken 2004 by
Michael John Neill
When visiting a cemetery, do you note the stones that are adjacent to the one for your "ancestor of interest?" Married daughters and other relatives with different last names may have a permanent resting place next to your actual "ancestor of interest." Transcribe those nearby stones, or at least get good pictures of them and make a diagram showing the relative positions of the neighboring stones.

Or better yet, just take plenty of pictures.

23 November 2014

The Cat On the Counter

The cat didn't mean to, but he was the "thought prompt" for today's tip.

Are you breaking your research down into smaller tasks? Achieving your goal in one step may simply not be possible. And if researching a family seems like a project which you will never finish, consider focusing on one person or one problem at a time and not be concerned with getting "it all done" right away. Ask yourself what one little thing can I do today to help me solve my genealogy problem?

After all, Sammie got on the kitchen counter one step at a time.

And your ancestor migrated from one place to another one step at a time as well. What was the most logical route to travel, where might he have stayed for a short time, and where might he have left records?

Your ancestor may have ended up on the counter, but he may have left a trail in several other places.

Who Took the Picture?

After you have identified as many people in a picture as you can, have you thought about who took the picture? Some family pictures may have been taken by professional photographers, but others may have been taken by a family member. 

If someone is conspicuously absent from a picture, they may have been the photographer.

22 November 2014

Get Beyond Basic Church Records?

Are the only records you use from a local church the records of pastoral acts? If your ancestor was a member of an immigrant church do you know where most of those immigrants came from? If your ancestor was a member of a "frontier" church, what do you know about the other members and what they had in common besides their religious affiliation?

Often times church or synagogue attendees have more in common than a denomination.

21 November 2014

Do Documents Suggest Child Order?

In some families, it can be difficult to determine the order in which children are born. The problem is exacerbated in places where there are no vital records. Children may be listed in wills in order or age (or they may not). Children all signing off on a quit claim deed after the surviving parent dies may be listed in order (or they may not).

And always ask yourself "how crucial is it that I know the birth order." Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't--it really depends on the family and what records are available and how detailed they are in terms of relationships.

If you've assigned children to a family in an order that you are not certain is the birth order, make a note that effect in your genealogy database.

Revised Dates for My 2015 Family History Library Research Trip

Due to a scheduling conflict, I've had to change the dates for the 2015 Family History Library Research Trip to:

  • arrive and check in on 19 May 2015
  • check out and leave on 26 May

20 November 2014

From Our Sponsor-GenealogyBank Discount

Our sponsor GenealogyBank is offering Genealogy Tip of the Day readers, fans, followers, etc. an annual membership rate that equates to $4.67 per month. Check it out.

And thanks to GenealogyBank  for continuing to sponsor Genealogy Tip of the Day.

19 November 2014

Use A Chronology as a Biographical Starting Point

If you are needing something to provide you with some framework for writing a biography of your ancestor, consider using her chronology of personal life events. It may not be the most "literary" approach, but it will get you started.

And sometimes getting started is half the battle.

And writing a biography of an ancestor (with citations included) may be a more manageable task than a complete five generation genealogy.

Re-Using Tips for Newsletters, Etc.

Editors of print genealogical publications are welcome to use tips from Genealogical Tip of the Day in their newsletters, quarterlies, etc. as long as the following notice is attached.

Reprinted from Genealogy Tip of the Day (c) by Michael John Neill, http://genealogytipoftheday.blogspot.com. This tip originally ran on [insert date].


We appreciate those who wish to share tips with readers, but please remember to cite the source.

18 November 2014

Googling Your Ancestor's Attorney

Sometimes it can be insightful to perform Google searches on attorneys named in your ancestor's documents. This attorney appointment looked odd until it was discovered that he lived near the nearest land office and would handle the final paperwork in a 19th century bounty land claim.

17 November 2014

Record Copies are Copies Not Originals

Copies in record books are transcriptions made by the clerk of the original document. Consequently they do not contain any actual signatures and could possibly contain the occasional error or two. Clerks are human.

16 November 2014

Short Course-Organizing Genealogical Information

By popular demand, we're offering a new section of my "organizing genealogical information" class. Details are here. Don't wait, registration is limited.

Pencil and Paper Sometimes Will Do

Sometimes it is simply faster to use pencil and paper instead of "computerizing" everything. There are times where a quickly drawn out chart indicating relationships and names is what I need to keep me organized and to remind me of why I'm searching for a specific person.

15 November 2014

Recorded Military Discharges?

The county recorder's office where your ancestor lived after his military discharge may have a registered copy of his discharge papers. Military men were encouraged--especially during the American Civil War era and after, to have a copy of their military discharge recorded at their local county recorder's office.

Could be a good place to get a copy of the record. Records for discharges during World War II and after are probably some type of photoreproduction of the document. Earlier ones are most likely handwritten transcriptions.

14 November 2014

Is There a Method to the Order

Pay attention to the order in which children are listed in wills and other legal documents. That order may suggest the birth order for the children. The key word being suggest. If the names appear in a certain order in only one document that might not be proof of much. If the names appear in the same order in different legal documents over time, it might be a little more suggestive of child order.

But try and back that assumption up with data from other records.

13 November 2014

Openings in FamilySearch, Probate, and Court Records Webinars on 14 November

We still have openings in webinars on the following topics tomorrow, 14 November 2014:

  • Tips and Tricks for FamilySearch
  • Probate
  • Court Records
Register here---we'd love to have you join us.

Can Your Write On Your Brick Wall?

An excellent problem-solving technique is to write up your "problem" as if you were explaining it to someone totally unfamiliar with the time period, the family, and the location. Organizing your thoughts and your current research for someone else to read and to follow may be give you additional insight into where you appear to be stumbling.

Gaps are easier to notice when we try and clearly explain our problem completely to someone else.

You may be able to "write over" your brick wall!

12 November 2014

Here a W, There a W, Everywhere a W

Initials can frustrate genealogists, but at least four of these heirs of James Kile had "W" as a middle initial. That seems more than a coincidence. This would be a good thing to investigate. It turns out in this case the "W" in all cases stood for Wiggins, their mother's maiden name.

Things that seem coincidental may not be. And middle names can always be clues.

11 November 2014

Genealogy Queries: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

We've finished our series on genealogical queries--with some specific suggestions. We broke it down into three parts:

Sometimes the Seat is Moved

In reading an affidavit from the early 1850s, I realized that the county seat of Mercer County, Illinois, was not where it is today. Has the county seat in your county of interest moved?

10 November 2014

Warranting the Patenting and Patenting the Warrant

Bounty land warrants indicate the number of acres in the federal domain to which a person (usually a veteran) is entitled. Holders of the warrant could use them to obtain specific property themselves or sell the warrant to someone else who would then obtain the property. The warrant was surrendered as a part of the land acquisition process to obtain the actual patent. The patent is what gave real estate title to a specific piece of property and is sometimes called the "first deed." (generally speaking, this is a US specific tip).

09 November 2014

The Whole Page Gives a Bigger Picture

I wasn't really certain the census entry in Union County, Ohio, was for the right James Kile. The index entry and transcription didn't indicate the names of the others on the census page. As soon as I saw the image, I knew I had the right person as three of his sons were listed on the same page. Sometimes you need to see the entire document to make certain it's the correct person.

Not to mention the occasional additional clue that pops up.

Openings in November Webinars

We still have openings in our November webinars, topics include:

  • Court Records
  • Probate Records
  • Female Ancestors
  • Charts, Charts, and More Charts

08 November 2014

In the Beginning There was an Ending

When transcribing a document keep in mind that there are some letters that are made in different ways depending up on their placement within a word, what the preceding letter is, etc. In the image that accompanies this post, the letter "s" is made one way when it is the first letter in a word and another way when it is the last letter in the word.

Writing Genealogical Queries

Before you post a genealogy query online, think about how easy you are making it for someone else to help you. Ideal queries provide a summary of what you know. Potential helpers may be less likely to help if they have to post a series of follow up questions to really know what you know and what you don't.

For a list of query writing suggestions, check out this post on Rootdig.

07 November 2014

Revisit Loose Ends?

When was the last time you looked over your old research materials for loose ends that never received any followup?

It's possible that there are leads just waiting to be used in your research.

Personally I have a stack of research questions that are only completely worked on. If you don't make a list of things that you've never completed, you may be surprised how many incomplete research projects you have.

06 November 2014

Eleven Sons Means Too Many First Cousins With the Same Name

War of 1812 veteran James Kile and his wife had eleven sons. Keeping the grandsons straight is difficult, considering that several were named after an uncle or other relative. I'm making a chart with the sons and grandchildren listed by their approximate year and state of birth.

In some cases that may not be helpful because given the twenty-plus year span in the births of James' sons, there could be sons of James and grandsons of James with the same name who were not very far apart in age. There could be an uncle and two (or more first cousins) with the same name who were close enough in age to be confused with each other.

05 November 2014

Do You Look at All the Notations?

Are there marks on a document that you've not analyzed or tried to interpret? Some stray marks are just stray marks, but other times those notations have a meaning. Sometimes that meaning has a genealogical significance and sometimes it does not. A recent posting to Rootdig mentioned notations on an estate inventory.

You don't know if something is relevant or not if you don't try to find out.

04 November 2014

Have You Tracked All Your Addresses?

Among the pieces of information to leave behind for your descendants, have you left a list of the addresses/locations where you have lived and when you lived there? That is something some of us wish our ancestors did and it might not be bad for us to do it ourselves.

03 November 2014

The 1950 Census and Beyond...

The 1950 United States census will not be released to the public until 2022 and the 1960 United States census is not scheduled for release until 2032. That's a while.

But have you thought about where your family was living in those census years? What makes you think your family was living in those locations?

Just because it will be awhile before these records are released doesn't mean you shouldn't think about what your ancestors and relatives were doing in the mid to later part of the 20th century.

02 November 2014

November Webinars!

We are re-recording some of my more popular webinars in November. Now is a great time to register and attend live where you can interact and ask questions during the presentation. Seating in these live online sessions is limited. Don't delay.  Registration includes PDF handout and complimentary download after session has been recorded. No special software is needed to participate. Email Michael at mjnrootdig@gmail.com with questions.

Most sessions are only $6 each!

Title and Description
5 spots left
Reading and Interpreting Probate Inventories from the 18th Century—rescheduled from earlier. If you signed up before and did not get invite, email Michael at mjnrootdig@gmail.com
7 November 1:00 pm  Central Time
Creating Families from Pre-1850 Census Records --This presentation discusses how to analyze pre-1850 census records in order to determine the family structure that is suggested by those records. Enumerations for one household between 1810 and 1840 are analyzed in order to determine the number of children, ranges on their years of birth, and ranges on years of birth for the oldest male and oldest female in the household.
7 November 3:00 pm  Central Time
Court Records-Pig Blood in the Snow. This lecture discusses American court records at the county level where cases were typically originally heard. Discusses cases of main genealogical relevance along with searching techniques.
14 November 10:00 am Central Time
The Probate Process—An Overview. 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. 
14 November 12 Noon Central Time
Tips and Tricks for FamilySearch  -This webinar discusses ins and outs of using the "new" family search,   searching by family structure, global searches, interpreting searches and troubleshooting. Also discussed are strategies when approaching an unindexed set of images, a new type of record series, or incomplete records. Aimed at advanced beginners and intermediate level researchers
14 November 2:00 pm Central Time
Female Ancestors. 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.
10 November 7 pm Central Time
Sections, Townships, Base Lines, etc--Land Descriptions in Federal Land States. The presentation focused on interpreting these descriptions, determining acreages and becoming familiar with the terminology. This presentation is geared towards those who have had difficulty using land descriptions or who have avoided using land records because of the use of legal descriptions. The use of land records for genealogy and searching those records are not a part of this presentation. This presentation concentrates on how land is described
10 November 8:30 pm Central Time
Charts, Charts and More Charts. Readers of the newsletter know that I love charts--and I'm not talking about pedigree and family group charts. Instead I'm talking about charts that organize information you have in order to see what's missing, notice patterns, and organize your research. In this webinar, I talk about key elements to include in any chart, troubleshooting before you get started, brainstorming, and ways to get creative with your data. Geared towards advanced beginners and intermediate researchers
12 November at 7:00 pm Central Time
Seeing the Patterns-Organizing Your Information. This lecture discusses the problem-solving process and a variety of ways to   organize your information with the intent of getting the research to notice overlooked clues, patterns, trends, and information.
12 November at 8:30 pm Central Time
Determining Your Own Migration Trail/Chain. This lecture discusses ways to find the names of your ancestor's associates and ways to determine how your ancestor fit into a larger chain of migration. Geared towards advanced beginners and intermediate researchers
6 November 2013 at 6:30 pm Central Time
Registration Closed
American Revolutionary War Materials on Fold3.com.  Our discussion concentrated on what items from the Revolutionary War era were on Fold3.com and how to search those materials. The presentation was approximately 45 minutes in length. A short handout was also included. The presentation is geared toward those who have not utilized these materials on Fold3.com and aren't all that familiar with how to interact with the search and navigational system of Fold3--both are discussed in addition to the records. 
6 November 2013 at 8 pm Central Time
Registration Closed