April 2013

Have you ever had a relative who was a widow, and she cannot be found in the census following her husband’s death?

One possible reason for this is that she may have remarried after her “first” husband died.  So, check for a marriage record for the widow.  Keep in mind that she may have used her maiden name for her “last” name when she remarried.

Another possible reason for this is that she may have used her maiden or “first” last name in the next census.  The reason for saying either her “first” name is that if she was married previous to her late husband, she may have used her other “first” husband’s last name in the next census!

I have seen “maiden” names, “previous marriage” last names, and “new husband” last names in the next census!



Have you ever asked the above question of one of your relatives?  I know that I have!

A number of years ago, I had been diligently searching for the death certificate of a woman.  I knew she had lived in Florida, and she was buried in Florida.  However, no death certificate could be found.

My client did not have any additional information on her death.

So, I began looking for her death certificate in the places where her children and grandchildren had been living about the time of her death – this date was from her gravestone.  And, a discovery was made!  She had died while visiting a grandson!   And, he lived in Kentucky!

When I went to the county in Kentucky where she died, there was her death certificate, just waiting to be discovered!

So, if a record cannot be found where you know the person lived, check the residences of the children and grandchildren.  You may find the record there!


Have you found this website?  I have, and am so glad that I have!

This website features the Arphax Publishing Company maps that we all find so useful in placing our ancestors.

At this site, one can look at a variety of maps.  The site has state maps, county maps, township maps, land patents maps, road maps, and waterway and rail maps.

I find that this is a good supplement site when looking that the Bureau of Land Management patents.  Much more information about each patent is found at HistoryGeo.com.

Take a look at it!  historygeo.com.


Ever wonder why a will or probate record cannot be located for your ancestor?

If your ancestor died at a late age, it could be that all of his property had already been given to those whom he wanted to have it.

I have an ancestor who I know died in a certain county in New York.  However, no will or probate has been found.  Looking at the previous census record, he was listed in the family of his daughter and son-in-law.  And, the year after his death, in the next census, his daughter and son-in-law are listed owning their property – worth more than the previous census.  It could be that my ancestor had already given his property to his daughter, so there was no need for a will.

Something to think about!


It is very important to clearly identify the location of an event in an ancestor’s life.

When doing so, make sure that the location is identified as it would have been at the time of the event.  Over time, town names have changed, as well as county lines.

Have you ever searched for a town name, and that name not be identifiable by a search engine?  So far, I have not had this happen.  However, I have had a hit on an “extinct” name, and the website has specified the “new” name of the town.  This has helped greatly on identifying exactly where the now-extinct named town was located.

Another potential problem is the county name.  As new counties were formed, locations “changed counties” because of new lines being drawn.  Make sure, when you identify the county, that the county name used is the county name at the time of the record.  That “old” county is where the county records will be found!


The perfect genealogy search of Will Records at the local county courthouse is thus:  the will books are clearly marked for dates covered, there is an index of every will in the book, and every name is spelled the way that I would spell it.

Yes, this is the perfect search.  However, it rarely turns out this way!

Have you made that trip to the courthouse, only to find out that there is no index in the book?  If so, a decision has to be made.  Do you spend your time going through every page in the book to possibly locate the ancestor’s will?  Or, do you spend your time looking at different records?  If it is an important will to find, than you will probably choose to look at every page in the book.  This will take time, but if you want to find a will (if one was written), than you will do the search.  (By the way – when citing the search of the book, make sure to mention that there was no index so a page-by-page search was conducted.)

What if there is an index?  Do you automatically find the ancestor’s name spelled the way that you would spell it?  Not necessarily!  Names are spelled so many different ways!  And, not just because of the way that the name was “commonly” spelled at the time of the will.  Many people wrote the name the way it was heard.  And, this may bear little resemblance to the correct way to spell the name.  I find it helpful to “say” the names in the index.  I have found ancestors this way more than once!  And, sometimes the name looks nothing like I would spell it!

So, the search has been made in the index, and the ancestor is not listed.  Have you checked the dates on the book binding?  Are you sure that the dates on the binding are the true dates in the book?  And, if a date is “August 1855,” which part of August 1855 is in the book?  It is important to actually check the dates in the book.  I have found wills that are dated differently than the date span listed on the binding!

Happy searching!


Did you ancestor attend a college or university, or even a preparatory school?  If so, it could be that you can discover new things about your ancestor’s life.

One of my female ancestors attended a college that is no longer in existence.  However, when I did a search for the college name, I found a website that had a copy of a magazine article about the college.  The article gave insight as to what was expected of the females at the college.  I did not know that the girls were not allowed to visit with their parents for an entire term!  The article also had photos of the college, taken at the time that my ancestor was attending.

Since I was named after this female ancestor, I have been given her diary that she had when she attended the college.  Many of the entries make a lot more sense to me after reading the magazine article!

If you have an ancestor that attended a college, and the college is still in existence, contact the archives of the college.  I have received information about other ancestors in this manner as well.


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