Playing Grammar Cop in a 1763 Will

[reposted from our old blog site’s post in 2015]

Part of the 1763 will of Joseph Daby from Middlesex County, Massachusetts, reads “…was my Sons Viz Daniel Daby Deceased…”

A superficial reading may interpret the word “Sons” to mean that Joseph had more than one son. The intent in this rendering is to indicate that Joseph is bequeathing something in his will that used to belong to his son Daniel.

It’s not used to indicate that Joseph had multiple sons.

18th century scribes don’t often use apostrophes to indicate possession. Genealogists need to “cut the scribe some grammar slack” or risk making incorrect conclusions.


An 1822 Court Case Mentioned in the Newspaper

Newspapers can be great ways to learn of court cases. This December 1822 reference to Aquilla Jones from the Franklin, Missouri, Missouri Intellingencer (available in digital format on is one such example.

The legal notice suggests that Aquilla is suing John Earthman for $500. The legal notice does not indicate what the suit was over. However the issuance of a writ of attachment indicates that Jones received a judgement in his favor for $500 and that Earthman risks assets being sold to recover that amount.

At the very least there was a business relationship between Jones and Earthman. There may have been a relationship by blood or marriage as well–that can’t be told from this legal notice. The actual court records could detail their relationship (if any) further or it may only reference the judgement and the reason for it.

The case was heard in Howard County, Missouri. I should look for both men in the 1820 census–starting in that county.

The actual court records themselves should be accessed for additional information. It’s not too common for me to actually find a newspaper reference to a court case for a relative in this time frame. $500 was not a small piece of change in 1822.

My search for the actual records will start at the Missouri State Archives in Jefferson City and go from there.

Stay tuned.


Citation Creation and Error Reduction

We are usually told to cite our sources because it allows us to go back and find things again if necessary and it assists us in the analysis of information.

Another reason: Reducing errors created by the researcher.

Creating citations after the research has been done can be time consuming, tedious, and repetitive process. For that reason, it’s a good idea to capture information needed for the citation as the research is being done.

That’s especially true when creating digital images from microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake.

The screen shot shown in this post shows the file name I used for an image taken from the section of deaths in the records of the Evangelical church in Aurich, Ostfriesland, Germany. The entries are unpaginated and they are organized by year. My goal with the file names is that they be long enough to contain relevant detail to get me back to that image if I needed to and to allow me to find the file by searching on the contents of the file name–just in case I save the file and can’t remember where I saved it on my computer.

When taking digital images of the desired record, I always make an image that includes the record of interest and the “top of the page” (usually the whole page to be honest). There are several reasons for this:

  • sometimes the top of the page contains headers–particularly in those years when records were written on forms
  • it’s easier to analyze handwriting when one has more than one entry from the register
  • interpreting the item in context can’t be done if there are no other entries to provide context
  • the top of the page frequently contains page numbers
  • the top of the page often contains other identifying information
Sometimes page numbers are on the bottom–that’s when copying the whole page is advised.
Then I usually copy just the item of interest, magnifying the image to make it easier later to read all the image.

Turns out there’s another reason I should include the entire page: reduce the chance I make careless mistakes.

The file name I used to save this image included 1838 for the year of the record.

The year listed on the actual record is 1839.

I was simply off by a year.

If I had only made an image of the entry for Ameling, the year would not have been included–just the month and day.

And then later I would have wondered why I was off on his death by one year.

And someone else could have copied that information and it could have been repeated over and over.

But…because I made an image of the entire page, I caught my error.

And I caught it because I was thinking about citations while I was actually researching.

One more reason to cite your sources.

An 1857 NYC Manifest Gives Relationships

Sound genealogical practice tells researchers to always look at the original. The list of reasons is long and littered with specific examples, but it boils down to one thing:

ya ain’t never know what ya gonna find til you look at it

This 1857 manifest of the Hansa, which arrived in New York City in May of that year is a prime example. The clerk who filled out the manifest should have been employed train every other clerk. Not only did he list the names, but he also listed the relationship. In some manifests one can conjecture these relationships, but it is nice to have them spelled out. Those details, since they are not typically listed on manifests during this era, are not included in the databases created from these records at sites such as

The word “transcription” was not used intentionally.

A transcription is a complete copying of a document, every word, every letter. The online indexes that we use are usually not transcriptions. They are extractions of key elements of the record for use in searching.

And you never know what is on the original unless you have looked at the original.


The Death Certificate for Jurgen Albers and a Different Burial Place

The February 1938 death certificate for “Juergan Albers” indicated that he was buried in Nashville’s Woodlawn Cemetery on 26 February–just two days after he died. No mention is made to Nashville’s veteran’s cemetery where he has a military headstone.

The 67-year old Spanish American War veteran was employed as a civil engineer for the Tennessee State Highway department at the time of his death. Albers was living at 2000 Arena Place in Nashville at the time of his death and was survived by his wife Almarine. The death certificate indicated Jurgen died at 8:30 am at 426 6th Avenue North in Nashville but does not indicate what is at that location, but since no hospital is named we can conclude the death did not take place in a hospital. A doctor from the State Department of Public Health indicated that Albers body was viewed after his death and that the cause of death was “unknown.”

No mention is made of Albers’ burial in Nashville’s National Cemetery which is indicated on his interment card.  The interment date in that cemetery is 1942.  What happened in 1942 to cause his body to be moved?

The details of his death on this death certificate are also minimal making it appear that Albers simply dropped dead. There is no indication that there was an inquest into his death. Perhaps he simply dropped dead. An obituary or death notice for him in a Nashville newspaper may spread more light on his death.

It is possible that there are employment records for Albers at the Tennessee State Archives for the time he worked for the Tennessee State Highway Department. The funeral home may still be in existence in some way, shape, or form and may have records. Funeral home records are private business records and funeral homes are under no obligation to share information with genealogists.

And still nothing on Frazier Albers whose name is inscribed on the back of Jurgen’s stone in the Nashville’s National Cemetery.

Stay tuned.


An Interment Card For Jurgen Albers

This card for Juergen Albers appears in’s “U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962“.  The card is full of information about Jurgen, his military career, his burial, and–interestingly–his son.

The card appears to have been written on by several people:

  • a typist–John P. Sasser or probably a clerk
  • a red pencil writer
  • a pencil writer–apparently in 1955
  • John F. Sasser

The red pencil writer apparently fact-checked information from other sources and apparently did that fact-checking in May of 1942.

There are also control numbers of some sort stamped on the card as well.

The information about Albers service is necessarily secondary given the nature of this card–it was apparently compiled in 1942. That doesn’t mean the information is wrong, just that it was copied from somewhere. Jurgen served in the Spanish-American War and was a sergeant in Company A of the Colorado Light Artillery. He enlisted in June of 1898 and was discharged in November of that same year.  The card also indicated that he was born in Illinois and lived (“Res”) in Colorado.

Jurgen died on 24 February 1938 and was interred in Nashville’s National Cemetery on 24 April 1942. Where was his body in the interim? And what was special (if anything) about April of 1942 to cause his body to be interred then–four years after his death?

And the memorial inscription for his son Frazier W. Albers that was ordered to be inscribed on the reverse of the stone? The military doesn’t just let anything be inscribed on the reverse of a stone.

We will have an update in a future post. This image was obtained in’s “U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962“.  That database is different from databases that contain information on military tombstones that were to be erected on the graves of soldiers buried in non-military cemeteries.



More Brick Walls from A to Z

This article originally appeared in the Ancestry Daily News  on 11 May 2007.

Last year we looked at Brick Walls from A to Z (reprinted at Unfortunately most of us still have brick walls. In recognition of the many attempts we make to break them down, this week we include an additional list.

A is for Assumptions
While it is necessary to make assumptions in order to begin work on some problems, there often comes a time when the assumption must be put aside. The search for a marriage record may begin in the location where the first child was born, but if records are available and no marriage can be located, then it may be time to let go of that assumption. Always state assumptions as such. Once an assumption becomes confused with fact, it is difficult for it to return to the land of assumptions.

B is for Boundaries
An incorrect knowledge of the county boundary, the state boundary, or the national boundary can cause a researcher to search in the wrong location. Political boundaries may be precise, but they may also be in constant flux. Linguistic boundaries are much more fluid and rarely clearly defined.

C is for Culture
What do you know of your ancestor’s culture? Is your ancestor’s ethnic heritage impacting his actions and the kinds of records she leaves? Don’t assume you act like your ancestor or vice versa.

D is for Descendants
Your great-great-grandparents may have many descendants outside of your immediate family. Any of these descendants may have family information or memorabilia that could be crucial to your research. Seek them out.

E is for Estrangements
Is the reason you cannot find your ancestor’s parents because the family had a falling out at some point in time and there was no reconciliation? It could easily have happened.

F is for Friends
Are your ancestor’s friends what caused him to emigrate from point A to point B? And because these friends have no blood ties to your ancestor, you have overlooked them or perhaps even had difficulty determining who they are?

G is for Geography
Is your lack of geographical knowledge impacting your research? Was it easier for your ancestor to travel to the next county to get married? If your ancestor left home looking for work, what was the route to take? Where was the largest nearby city?

H is for History
If your knowledge of history is weak, you may be making incorrect interpretations or about your ancestor’s actions and records. The genealogist needs to have an understanding of national, regional, and local history applicable to the time period being researched. One level of history is no more important than any of the others.

I is for Ignorance
Is it our ancestor’s ignorance that is causing the problem? Did your ancestor make bad mistakes that sent their lives into a tailspin? Maybe the reason our ancestor’s decisions do not make any sense is that our ancestor was not making good decisions to begin with.

J is for Job
Do not forget that your ancestor’s job was crucial to his existence and the lack of one might have been the reason for his sudden migration from one point to another. Your unawareness of that job might be causing your brick wall.

K is for Knocking
Are you knocking when you should be ringing the doorbell? Perhaps there is a different tool you should be using to solve your research problem. Are there other records you are not even aware of? Make certain you are using the right tool and that you have all the available tools at your disposal.

L is for Language
Do you understand how your ancestor pronounced the name of his place of birth? If your Swedish-born ancestor indicated he was born in “Cheesa” on a marriage record, he actually might have been referring to Kisa. The way it sounded to an American clerk might not have been the way it was spelled on a Swedish map.

M is for Maternal
Are you too focused on the paternal line? Just because that was the last name that got passed down from one generation to another does not mean it necessarily exerted any more influence on your ancestor than his maternal relatives. It might have been maternal uncles that brought your relative to Nebraska instead of his father’s family.

N is for Nicknames
Is a nickname causing you to overlook your ancestor in a record? Lizzy, Beth, Betsy are all diminutives for Elizabeth, Sally is one for Sarah. Keep these in mind when researching. Your ancestor who was married to Lucinda in one census and Cindy in the next might have only had one wife.

O is for Out-of-Date
Are you using an out-of-date finding aid or resource? Make certain you are using a corrected or updated versions if necessary. Keep in mind that in some cases, there may be multiple indexes to the same set of records. Use all indexes in case the desired entry is rendered differently in each index.

P is for Patronymics
If patronymics are being used in an area where you are researching, keep in mind that no one will have the same last name as their mother or father and that some families may choose non-patronymic surnames for their children. This is done solely to confuse the researcher.

Q is for Quirky
Maybe the reasons your ancestor and his records do not make sense is simply that your ancestor was just “a little different.” Sometimes we have an ancestor who was slightly flaky.

R is for Recorded
Have you considered looking at the miscellaneous items that are recorded in many county recorders’ offices? There are more than just deeds and vital records. I have found out-of-state divorce decrees, military discharges, medical licenses, etc., recorded in the books of miscellaneous records. Give them a try. You never know what your relative thought he should have recorded.

S is for Step-Parent
Is the reason you cannot find your ancestor in the 1860 census because the mother remarried and you do not know the new husband’s name? If the child is enumerated with the last name of the step-father and that name is unknown to you, locating the family may be difficult and determining the name of the second husband should be high on your priority list.

T is for Transcription
Are you using an incorrect transcription which you have never compared to the original document from which the transcription was made? A slip of the keyboard may have created your brick wall.

U is for Unrelated
Are you assuming two individuals with the same last name have to be related? It may be that those two with the same surname are completely unrelated and moved near each other just to confuse their descendants.

V is for Vital Records
Have you made your own brick wall by not obtaining vital records on all your ancestor’s children–not just the direct line? Answers to your problem may be resting in records of aunts and uncles instead of those on your ancestor.

W is for Why?
The good genealogist should be like a toddler, constantly asking “why?” If you are not asking yourself why a record was created when it was, why a name was spelled the way it was, why your ancestor lived where he did, why your ancestor waited until he was forty to get married the first time, you may be missing out on important clues.

X is for Extraneous Information
Official records rarely include extraneous details just to alleviate the boredom of the clerk. There is usually a reason for the apparently extra information. An 1850s-era marriage license indicates the bride had  no “awful husband living.” In this case, reference was not to the bride’s deceased husband, but rather to a subsequent “husband” with whom the bride had a relationship, but not one with whom she had a valid marriage.

Y is for Yo-Yo
Was your ancestor a yo-yo? Did he immigrate to the United States more than once? Two of my wife’s ancestors did. My own ancestors were not that indecisive, but it does happen. Sometimes people went back to the homeland and never did re-emigrate.

Z is There is No Z
Are you looking for a record that was never created? Are you looking for a reason that really is not there? Remember that not every question has an answer and not every action has a reason. And remember that there are genealogical questions that will never be answered.


Up to 14 AncestryDNA Circles

Now I’m up to fourteen circles at  AncestryDNA, Two circles are new and the numbers for several circles have changed since I last reviewed them. The circles are still in beta and I’m assuming that the changes are due to either altered matching techniques or new testees (my initial circle post can be read on this page where more about the circles is explained). My current circles are:

  • newJames Rampley (1803 Harford County, Maryland-1884 Hancock County, Illinois) and wife Elizabeth Chaney(1804 Bedford County, Pennsylvania–1883 Hancock County, Illinois)-3 members in each.
  • Hinrich Jacobs Fecht (1823 Wiesens, Ostfriesland, Germany-1912 Hancock County, Illinois) and second wife Maria Gerdes Wilken (Bruns) Fecht (1831 Wiesens- before 1877 Hancock County)–4 for Hinrich and 7 for Maria.
  • Christianna (DeMoss) Rampley (born in the early 1770s probably in Harford County, Maryland–19 members of this circle–6 more than before.
  • Augusta Newman (died 1861 White County, Indiana)–8 members of the circle.
  • Johann Luken Jurgens Ehmen Goldenstein (born 1814 Wrisse, Ostfriesland, Germany and his wife Tjade Anna Focken (Tammen) Goldenstein (born 1824 Buhren, Ostfriesland, Germany)–3 in both circles.
  • Hinrich Janssen Ufkes (born 1797 Ostfriesland, Germany) and the circle for his wife Trientje Eilts (Post) Ufkes (born 1803 Wiesens, Ostfriesland, Germany). There are 9  in Hinrich’s circle (was 8) and 8 in Trientje’s circle (was 7).
  • Riley Rampley (born 1835 Coshocton County, Ohio) and the circle for his wife Nancy Jane (Newman) Rampley (born 1846 Rush County, Indiana)–3 in both circles.
  • Johann Friederichs Hinrichs Ufkes (born 1838 Wiesens, Ostfriesland, Germany) and the circle for his wife Noentje Lena (Grass) Ufkes (born 1848 Backemoor, Ostfriesland, Germany)–Johann’s circle as 4 and Noentje’s circle has 3.

One gets in circles due to the results of the DNA test and having a tree attached to the DNA results.

We’ll post more details about getting into the circles in an upcoming post–but for now, you have to have a tree and have done a DNA test at

The FindAGrave Interface

I use FindAGrave quite a bit in my research. It can be a great way to get pictures of tombstones that I otherwise would not be able to. Transcriptions of stones (when they are actual transcriptions and not borderline biographies) are great as well.

The rest of it I can take or leave as sometimes it seems like FindAGrave is getting beyond it’s original purpose. I generally don’t use the other memorial information–unless there’s an obituary with a date and place of publication. That’s my personal preference.

But the update.

I know that the old site needed an update so that it displayed better and worked better on phones. There may even have been some programming on the site that needed to be updated. I understand why there are ads on the site.

But why does each FindAGrave page feel like a very old MySpace page? Couldn’t they have modernized the display, updated the code, and kept the ads without using the layout format they chose?

I find myself doing less browsing of memorials on FindAGrave since the change.

NoteFor the time being the old interface can be accessed at


A Picture of Aunt Lucinda–the Shaker With Descendants

This is the first time I have ever found a relative’s photograph in an archival collection in any library. And a wonderful picture it is. It can be very easy to overlook special collections at regional, college, and university libraries in our ancestral search. Any archival collection has the potential to contain material on a relative, but the chance is increased when our relative was a member of a unique group–in this case a Shaker.
The original copy of this photograph is in the Shaker Collection at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Lucinda joined the Shaker community in Enfield, New Hampshire in the 1840s and remained their until her death.

The name on the back of the photograph is “Lucinda Furnum.” Based upon the reasonableness of the variation and census records, I’m fairly certain this picture is the Lucinda (Sargent) Fairman who was born in Leicester, Vermont, the daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Gibson) Sargent.

What I am not certain of is when the picture was taken. I also need to find out of there is any significance to a Shaker to what she is wearing.

The image posted as a part of this blog post has been created from the front and back of the actual image by using a digital version of the photograph obtained on the Hamilton College Library website. It is a great little find.

Samuel and Sarah (Gibson) Sargent are my 4th great-grandparents.

[this post is reprinted from my old blog-originally dated 29 April 2014].