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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 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.

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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

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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.