30 March 2012

With Your Own Eyes

Most of the records we deal with are handwritten. We've already discussed being open to different spellings of your ancestors' names since those writing the information rarely asked, "How do you spell that?". These records are then transcribed or indexed to make them searchable online. That involves someone looking at the record, deciphering the handwriting and typing in the information. So let's see...
1. No concern for spelling
2. Indexers deciphering handwritten records
3. Data entry typos
It's a wonder we find any of our ancestors!
If you find a record has a few things in common with the person/family you're looking for don't dismiss it based on the differences you find in the transcription. When it's possible, take a look at the original record for yourself. There's a reason Ancestry.com allows its subscribers to submit alternate information.
The record linked below has been corrected since I bookmarked it to use as an example and the original transcription is listed as alternate information. (Links go to Ancestry.com for those of you who are subscribers.) There are other members of all these households but I've only included a few names here.

Head of household  Ann May, born abt 1870
Mother                  Missouri Blackard, born abt 1912 in Nova Scotia, Canada

More after the jump.

27 March 2012

A Female Bigamist?

Comments after the jump.


 1880 Marriage #1 to Jackson Hayes
 1882 Marriage #2 to Elisa W. B. Hayes

 Born       M#1     M#2   Unknown Spouse

 1882     William Hayes         
 1883     Annie Hayse
 1884     Damascus Hayse, Iona Edenfield (married name)
 1886     Allen Hayes, Nannie Pearl Hayes, Naurice Hayse
 1888     Mattie L Hayse, Mattie L Hayse
 1890     Elam G Hayse
 1892     Rosa Tom Edward Hayes, Georgia Hayse, Rosa F Hayse
 1893     Cletis Hayes, Cletis Hayes
 1894     Kittie G W Hayes, Rosa T Hayes
 1898     Jas F Hayse, James F Hayes

 All names are as they are spelled on this tree (i.e. Elisa instead of Elias, Hayse and Hayes used interchangeably, etc.). 

23 March 2012

A Must Read Book for 'Newbies'

On St. Patrick's Day I pulled out the WDYTYA? companion book again. Just wanted to read the bit in Chapter 8 about Megan's search for President Obama's Irish ancestors. I decided to read it again from the beginning since I hadn't pulled it out in a while. Is there a way to make this book required reading for anyone who wants to start working on their family tree? In just the first twenty pages she covers a majority of the pitfalls for newbies. In one section of Chapter 1, "Don't Believe Everything You Read or Hear," she succinctly debunks these common genealogical myths:
1. Our name was changed at Ellis Island.
2. We're descended from a Cherokee princess.
3. Three brothers came to America. One went north, one went south, and one went west.
4. Here's your coat of arms!
After the jump is an excerpt from Chapter 1 that I think is spot on for this blog ;-)
Seriously, go get a copy.

20 March 2012

You did WHAT?!!?

Today's post isn't about a specific tree but about the people
who create the messed up trees I usually post about on Tuesdays.
People with no understanding of how to research but
a burning desire to be connected to someone important.
Hope reading these doesn't give you a migraine.
I debated correcting spelling, grammar, etc. but thought
I should keep the posts as I found them for the full effect.
Each of these quotes is real.
They were found on various Facebook fan pages.
Names have been withheld to protect the clueless.

What's the craziest claim you've ever heard?

Quotes are after the jump. My comments are in red.

16 March 2012

It's a Family Affair

Some researchers may only be interested in going straight back in time, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.. But sometimes you need to go sideways in order to go back. Don't just work with a child and their parents but with the entire family.
1. Having trouble finding your family of Smiths on a census? You can narrow down which family is yours with a list of the children. There may be a few families with children named John, Mary, Jane, Anna and James but how many of them have those names in the same birth order?
2. Can't find the mother's maiden name? It may not be on your direct ancestor's death certificate but what about the death certificates of all their siblings. If the DCs aren't available online and it will cost you to get them all, start with the sibling who died first. With more family still living the odds of someone remembering go up.
3. Missing the parents on a census? They could be living with one of the children's families. If the parent's name is transcribed incorrectly you have another shot at finding them through a child.
4. You may not want to include all the cousins, that's up to you, but I would suggest at least including the names of the daughters' husbands. That will make it easier to find death records.

PREVIOUS POST: The Time Travelers Part II

13 March 2012

The Time Travelers Part II

I've only included death dates when they are absolutely ridiculous.
Comments after the jump.


 1747 Birth in Mexico
 1797 Death in Mexico
 1897 Arrival
 1910 Residence in Karnes, TX
 1915 Arrival
 1920 Residence in Cambria, PA
 1930 Residence in Hidalgo, TX

 With Maria Antonia Vela (b. 1740)
 Jose Daniel
 Jose Maria
 Jose Maria
 Joseph Miguel b. 1747
 Esteban b. 1750
 Jose Miguel b. 1750
 Damian b. 1758
 Jose Estan b. 1768
 Jose Salvador b. 1770
 Jose Vicente b. 1776
 Jose Damian b. 1777
 Vicenta b. 1779
 Antonio Jesus b. 1784
 Esteban b. 1790
 Jose Maria b. 1792
 Jose Maria b. 1792
 Jose Maria b. 1873 d. 1850
 Jose Joaquin b. 1905 d. 1812

 With Maria Antonia Vela (b. 1763)
 Jose Miguel b. 1750

 With Andrea Alanis
 Jose Joaquin b. 1905 d. 1812
 Chisanta b. 1907
 Amado b. 1909
 With Juana Alanis (b. 1903)
 3 Living children

09 March 2012


Today's post isn't so much a tip as it's a plea to Who Do You Think You Are? to provide us with tips. I'm sending this letter to the show and hope others will too. Go HERE.
Look down the page for the "Select Show" dropdown. Once you select a show the message box will appear.
Here's the email I sent:

Dear Alex, Lisa, Dan, Jennifer and Al,
I would love to see a fact sheet for each episode. Some facts that would be interesting and helpful:
Number of genealogists employed ___
Number of total research hours ___
Number of online research hours ___
Number of states visited (for research) ___
Number of countries visited (for research) ___
List of documents used ____________________________________________
List of repositories for those documents (on and off line)____________________________________________
Information provided by featured guest (a checklist to see how much information they already knew):
___ Paternal Grandfather’s birth date/place
___ Maternal Grandfather’s birth date/place
___ Paternal Grandmother’s birth date/place
___ Maternal Grandmother’s birth date/place
___ Paternal Great-Grandfather’s birth date/place
___ Maternal Great-Grandfather’s birth date/place
___ Paternal Great-Grandmother’s birth date/place
___ Maternal Great-Grandmother’s birth date/place

I hope you'll consider providing this information to your many genealogy obsessed fans.

UPDATE: I only got error messages on the NBC website. On their corporate site I found a link and sent a message about the website errors. Instead I'll be posting this on the WDYTYA? Facebook page and on Dan's Facebook page. If you're able to send a message through the NBC site please let me know. Also, if you wouldn't mind, let me know your platform and browser. I'm using Firefox 6 on a Mac so maybe that's an issue.

PREVIOUS POST: Apparently Polygamy is Rampant, Or Not
NEXT POST: The Time Travelers Part II

06 March 2012

Apparently Polygamy is Rampant, Or Not.

All the children have the Wittman surname.
Some have death dates listed on this tree but I've not included them.
Comments after the jump.


 #1: 1883 in Elk, Pennsyvania to Mary Selle (1857-1925)
 #2: 1888 in Outagamie, Wisconsin to Mary Catherine Coenen (1868-1890)
 #3: 1891 in Brown, Wisconsin to Anna Micke (1869-1940)

 CHILDREN from Marriages #1  #2  #3
 1884    Fred William               
 1885    Julia Margaret, Julia Margaret
 1887    Emelia Frances
 1888    Albert Joseph 
 1889    Monica Josephine
 1890    Anna Mary
 1892    Cecilia Christine
 1893    Michael
 1894    Norbert Henry, Norbert Henry
 1895    Mary Clara
 1896    Herman
 1898    Arthur Henry
 1899    Edward*
 1900    Genevieve Barbara, Theodore
 1903    Anton Albert
 1905    Louis*
 1907    Raymond
 1910    Clara
 1913    Regina*

*NOTE: There are three children of this marriage whose names are private on this tree. I've taken the names/dates from the 1920 US Federal Census and assuming they are the private names.

02 March 2012


An obituary can yield the mother lode of information. It can also be a complete disappointment. Things to keep in mind when looking for that elusive obituary:
1) It may not exist. Not everyone had an obituary. It doesn't mean you shouldn't look but don't pin all your hopes on it.
2) It may not exist now. Tornadoes, floods, fires,... any number of events could have happened between then and now.
3) It may consist of only a few sentences.
Now that I've lowered your expectations... ;-)
After the jump are two, seemingly uninformative obituaries and tips on looking for obituaries.