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30 June 2012

Did Uncle Herman Disappear?

If Uncle Herman (or Aunt Hermina) disappears after they reach young adulthood, consider the fact that they might not really have disappeared?

In some families if a child was "not right," they might have been institutionalized and never mentioned again.

29 June 2012

Was There An Earlier Marriage?

Look at the ages of your ancestors when they had their "first" marriage. Was their age at that "first" marriage old enough that there might have been a marriage before the marriage you think was their "first?"

28 June 2012

A Mortgagor Usually Signs

If you're confused in reading a mortgage, remember that the mortgagor is usually the one who signs the document and is the one who is borrowing the money.


27 June 2012

Today's Savings on GenealogyBank

Sign up for GenealogyBank today and save 25% on an annual subscription. 95% of their content is unique to their site and more digital images of newspapers are added on a regular basis. 

Genealogy Tip of the Day is sponsored by GenealogyBank,

Do You Have the Only One?

We've mentioned this tip before, but it bears repeating.

Is there some document, picture, or record where the only copy in existence is in your possession? Have you scanned, copied, or otherwise reproduced/shared the item in an attempt to preserve it? What would happen if your only copy was destroyed without being reproduced?

26 June 2012

Learning a New Script

Learning to read another style of handwriting can be difficult, particularly the words written in it are in a foreign language. One way to get better at recognizing individual letters is to practice them yourself.

After all, how did you learn to write in the first place?

25 June 2012

No Proofing Required

If you are fortunate enough to find an ancestor's biography in an old county history, bear in mind that information submitted for these biographies was not fact checked. Usually the person paid to have their biography published in this late 19th and early 20th century books. If your ancestor's payment was good, so was his biography.

24 June 2012

Naming Patterns?

Some families name children according to naming patterns and other families do not. Names being repeated in a family can be clues to connections, but they should be used as clues and not as facts.

And just because other families named the oldest son for the paternal grandfather does not mean that your family did.

23 June 2012

Knew Them How Long?

In any form of testimony where someone indicates they have known your ancestor for a specific number of years, determine when your ancestor and this "someone" met. Did they know each other when they lived in a different location? If you can't find your ancestor in their previous area of residence, search for the "someone."

Then maybe you will find the ancestor. 

22 June 2012

Enumerated Twice in a Census?

Depending on their family and work situation, there is a chance that an ancestor is enumerated more than once in a census. The census was not necessarily always taken "on just one day," so individuals who moved around the time of the census may have been listed by two enumerators. Individuals who were living in one household and working as domestic help in another may show up in twice--once in each household.

21 June 2012

Who Was Feeding That Information?

The death notice, obituary, death certificate, and tombstone all have the same date of birth for great-grandma. This probably does not mean that you four totally separate pieces of information provided by four separate and independent sources. What you most likely have is one person who gave the same information four times.

Remember that before you think that just because four sources "agree" that they are correct.

20 June 2012

License Does Not Guarantee A Marriage

While most couples who took out a marriage license did marry, it is always possible that they did not. If there is a record that a couple got a license, indicate in your records that it is a license date, not a marriage date. Even if they did marry, there's no guarantee that they married on the same date as the license.

And clearly indicating that the date is a license date tells others (and yourself) that the marriage record has not been located.

19 June 2012

Derivative Citizenship

Derivative citizenship is citizenship that is "derived" from someone else's citizenship status. If your alien ancestor was under the age of consent when his father naturalized, then your under the age of consent ancestor had a citizenship that was "derived" from that of his father.

18 June 2012

Track Your Process?

Do you keep track of what databases you use and what people you try and find in those databases? Or do you just keep entering in names, hoping to find something eventually? Knowing what you have already looked for in a database helps you to formulate new searches and strategies. Research logs are not just for manual searches of unindexed books and local records.

17 June 2012

Some Local History?

When was the last time you read some local history for the area adjacent to where you are doing research? A little more background information never hurts.

16 June 2012

Every City Directory

When researching urban ancestors and using city directories, determine if more than one publisher published directories. If you are only checking the directories published by one publisher, you could be missing out on clues--especially if your ancestor moved around quite a bit.

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15 June 2012

Did Grandma Approximate Her Place of Birth?

Some immigrants, when providing birth or origin information in their new country, may have provided a town "close" to where the were actually from or were born. Some might have thought that no one had ever heard of their actual place of birth and instead gave a nearby larger town--perhaps the local seat of government or town where most business was conducted.

14 June 2012

What's The Real Order?

In viewing some marriages as listed in the Bourbon County, Kentucky, marriage register for the 1815 era, it was easy to see that the marriages were not listed in the register in precise chronological order. In looking at the entire set of pages, it became clear that they were listed in the order in which the minister or Justice of the Peace brought them in as the entries were clustered by the name of the officiant.

There may be a reason why things appear "out of order." You may not be looking at the right part of the record in order to determine what the order actually is.

13 June 2012

Daddy's Not Around

Remember when analyzing family structure and possible migrations that the mother has to be in the same place as the child on the date of birth and the mother and the father in the same general area roughly nine months before the birth.

Dad didn't have to be in the same location as the mother was when the child was born.

12 June 2012

I Have the Same Last Name As My Pa

Just because a female has the same last name as her father does not mean she is unmarried. A relative of my had the maiden name of Mattie Huls and her husband (unrelated) had the last name of Huls. It is always possible that a woman marries a man who has the same last name as she does.

11 June 2012

Grantor Versus Grantee

A grantor is the person "selling" or transferring the property from his or her ownership on a deed. The grantee is the person who is receiving the property.

[This is the first tip I've knowingly re-used. It is the one on the blog that gets the most hits.]

10 June 2012

How Many Courts Did A County Have?

Make certain you have searched the records of all the courts that a county or other local jurisdiction might have. Some counties might have separate "courts" that heard probates, guardianships, civil cases,criminal cases, etc. The judge and records office might have been the same, but the courts may have been separate with separate records.

09 June 2012

The Same Approach Doesn't Always Work

All of us have a set of  "tricks" that we use to search for people in online databases. Don't search for every family in the exact same way. The approach that worked for one family might not work with another. Make certain you are aware of all the search options a site has to offer, wildcard searches, soundex searches, names of others in the household, keyword, etc.

08 June 2012

$5 Webinar Sale--




Our $5 webinar sale is back!
All presentations are made by Michael John Neill. Our style is informal and informative with the intent on providing you with information to extend your knowledge of your ancestors.  Michael shares research knowledge from nearly thirty years of family history research and experience.


What is Not Written. This presentation discusses the importance of discovering, as best you can, what is going on "behind the scenes" with a document or a record. Materials used by genealogists are usually created in response to some event and sometimes seeing what's "really going on" is not easy. Through examples and general methodology we will see how to get "behind" the document and discover what was really going on. Add to cart



Creating Research Plans. This presentation discusses how to create your research plans, how to set goals, how to not set goals, when you are proving and when you are not, and other key concepts. Of course, we have a few charts as well. Our attempt is to be down-to-earth and practical. I realize that most genealogists are not going to write journal articles, however our research needs to be as thorough as possible and our analysis and method well-thought out or we're not going to get the best possible story on great-great-grandma that there is. This presentation is geared towards intermediate researchers, but advanced beginners might get some benefit from it as well.
 Add to Cart

The Genealogical Proof Standard for the Non-Professional. One of our most popular webinars, this presentation provides an overview of the “Genealogical Proof Standard,” including a discussion on the “exhaustive search.” The Proof Standard is not just for professionals, any genealogist who wants to improve their research and get past those stumbling blocks would be well served by implementing it in their research. Our discussion is practical, down-to-earth, and hands-on.

Add to Cart

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.
Add to Cart

Making and Proving Your Case. Geared towards advanced beginners and intermediate researchers, this presentation discusses things to think about before writing up "your case." Talks about statements, primary, secondary, ways to prove yourself, considering all the options, disproving, citation, etc. Provides the viewer with ideas on how to "make their case" and see gaps or omissions in their research.
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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.
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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.
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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. $8.50 includes handout and hour-long lecture
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 The Probate Process—An OverviewGeared 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. Download the recording and handout for the sale price of $5 (save $3.50).
 Add to Cart
 United States Naturalization Records pre-1920 - This presentation is an overview of naturalization records in the United States prior to 1920, focusing on locating and understanding the records. Women's citizenship and derivative citizenship are also included. Download the recording and handout for the sale price of $5 (save $3.50).
 Add to Cart
 Local Land Records in Public Domain States--This lecture discusses obtaining, using, and interpreting local land records in areas of the United States from Ohio westward where land was originally in the public domain. This lecture is geared towards those who have some experience with land records--advanced beginning and intermediate researchers. Download the recording and handout for the sale price of $5 (save $3.50).
 Add to Cart
 Newspaper Research -Aimed at advanced beginners and intermediate level researchers, this webinar discusses research techniques for searching newspapers in digital, microfilm, and original formats. Pitfalls of using digital newspapers are discussed, along with manual search techniques and what types of materials to look for besides obituaries and death notices.  This presentation is not merely a list of online sites or an attempt to get subscribers to any specific database. Download the recording and handout for the sale price of $5 (save $3.50).
 Add to Cart







What Was the Last Bit of History You Learned?

Can you remember the last historical fact you learned? If you can't, maybe it's been too long since you learned something about the history of where your ancestors lived.

Not knowing history really hinders your genealogical efforts.

07 June 2012

June 2012 Genealogy Webinars

We are offering the following genealogy webinars in June 2012:

  • Crossing the Pond--Part 2
  • Making Corrections to Your Ancestry.com Tree
  • American Revolutionary War Materials on Fold3.com
If you signed up for one originally and missed it, you'll get it at no additional charge. If you haven't already registered, do so at http://www.casefileclues.com/webinars_neill..htm

Omission Does Not Mean They Did Not Exist

Leaving someone out of a will does not mean that they were not a child of the testator. It could be that the child had previously been given their inheritance, perhaps upon marriage or reaching adulthood.

06 June 2012

The Writer Makes Those Decisions

That obituary for your great-uncle might have been written and paid for by his third wife. Consequently, she may choose not to mention his first wife or his son that she could not stand.

And that biography of your great-great-grandmother's half-brother may fail to mention his half-sister and he saw no reason to mention his mother's first marriage in the family history section.

The person paying for information to be published may very easily leave out that which he does not care to share with others.

Before You Get That Death Certificate

If you want a copy of your ancestor's death certificate, think twice before paying one of those online places an exorbitant fee for "instant" or overnight services. Here are some general suggestions:

  • Check FamilySearch.org to determine if the certificates are online there at no charge.
  • Determine if the records have been microfilmed and are available via loan through the Family History Library.
  • Check the appropriate state archives or state historical library website to see if the certificates are online there.
  • Determine what the state office of vital statistics charges for a copy.
  • Determine what the county or town charges for a copy.
Unless you are settling an estate or performing some type of legal work, a certified copy probably is not necessary. Check around before getting your copy from the first place that comes up when you perform a Google search.

05 June 2012

Don't Assume the Gender

Be careful in assuming the gender based solely upon how a name is used today. My ancestor Augusta Newman is a male--sometimes he used Auguste or August, but there are numerous records where the name is written as Augusta. Today Augusta would typically be considered a woman's name.

And of course today there are several names that could refer to a male or a female. Don't assume.

04 June 2012

Did they Tweak the County Boundary?

Remember that even after a county was formed, it is possible that the county line was eventually "tweaked" years or decades later.

Your ancestor's farm might have "moved" from one county to another--which impacts where records are recorded.

03 June 2012

Witnesses to Wills

Witnesses to wills generally are not heirs of the testator, the person who signs the will. They can be relatives or someone totally unrelated to the testator.

02 June 2012

Did Your Ancestor Change His Name?

If your ancestor "disappears" consider the possibility that he changed his name. In earlier times, a person could simply change their name without any court or other record thereof--especially if they were changing it to be distinguished from others with the same last name or similar names. It could also have been a way for an ancestor to make a new start.

And it's always a way to try and evade the authorities.

01 June 2012

Disappeared Into History?

If your ancestor "disappears" ask yourself what historical events were going on at that time. Was there a gold/silver rush? Was there a war? Had new territory opened?

It could be that your ancestor or other relative was swept up in a historical event.