Saturday, March 22, 2014

We're Back!

For a variety of personal family reasons, Casefile Clues has been on hiatus. We're back on track now and working on the next issue for delivery early next week at which point we'll be returning to our weekly distribution.

Thanks for your patience.

Everyone will get the number of issues to which they subscribed.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Issues 1-1 Through 3-39

This is a complete list of back issues as of 3-39.


  •  Issue 1- A Method to the Madness: Starting A Search for William Rhodus. Beginning a search on a man whose first "known" document is an 1860 marriage record in Missouri.
  •  Issue 2-"Know" Objection That I Know Of: Letters of Consent and a Bond from a 1798 Marriage. This column analyzes a set of marriage consents from the marriage of Thomas Sledd and Sally Tinsley in Amherst County, Virginia, in 1798. 
  •  Issue 3-Thomas and Elizabeth Frame: Arriving Outside the Time Frame. This column discusses establishing an immigration framework for an English immigrant family to American in the 1860s.
  •   Issue 4-An 1873 Chicago Naturalization: Two Thomases to Confuse. This column looks at the 1873 naturalization of Thomas Frame from Cook County, Illinois
  •  Issue 5-Copied from the Ashes: The 1850 Declaration of Peter Bigger. This column looks at a declaration of intent to become a citizen from Hamilton County, Ohio, that was recreated or copied from the partially burned one. 
  • Issue 6-A Venture into Harford County: A 1790-Era Grant and Deed. This column looks at two land records from Harford County, Maryland, the patent to James Rampley and the subsequent deed of sale for part of that property about a year later. 
  • Issue 7-Potatoes Not Worth Digging: The 1863 Personal Inventory of Paul Freund. This column analyzes an 1863 estate inventory from Davenport, Iowa, paying particular attention to clues that might provide details about Paul's occupation and origin.
  •   Issue 8-We Were at the Wedding: A Civil War Pension Affidavit. This column looks at an affidavit made out in California in the early 1900s regarding a marriage that took place in Michigan nearly fifty ears earlier. Accuracy of information along with research suggestions are included.
  • Issue 9-Finding William and Rebecca in 1840. Discusses a search for a couple in their first census enumeration as man and wife.
  • Issue 10-More Brick Walls From A to Z. Another installment in our popular series of brick wall techniques from A to Z.
  •  Issue 11-Mulling Over a Deposition: Testifying For a Fifty-Year Neighbor. This column analyzes a deposition made in  Revolutionary War pension case where the deponent has known the applicant for fifty years. Plenty of clues and leads to analyze in this document.
  • Issue 12-An 1836 Kentucky Will. This column includes a transcription and an analysis of an 1836 Kentucky will.
  • Issue 13-An 1815 Marriage: Augusta Newman and Belinda Sledd. This column analyzes a marriage register entry and marriage bond for this couple in Bourbon County, Kentucky.
  • Issue 14-Going Back: James and Elizabeth Rampley in 1850. This 1850 census enumeration is completely analyzed for clues on this apparently well-documented family.
  • Issue 15-Selling My Part of My Father's Farm: An 1820 Deed From Maryland. This column looks at a Harford County, Maryland, deed where Thomas Rampley transfers his ownership in his father's farm to his brother. The relationship is not stated in the document, but all clues are completely analyzed and research suggestions given.
  • Issue 16-At the Baby's Birth in 1859. This column looks at a proof of birth for an 1859 birth as given in a Civil War children's pension file.
  • Issue 17-Dead or Alive: G. W. Garrett?  This column looks at a transcription of a guardianship order contained in a Union Civil War pension application. The document is somewhat unclear and indicates that further research is necessary.
  • Issue 18-From a Life Estate to a Fee Simple. This column looks at an 1880 era deed that essentially converts a wife's life estate in a ten acre parcel into one that is a fee simple title. Of course, the deed does not explicitly state that.
  • Issue 19-An Estate of Inheritance: Benjamin Sells His Forty. This column looks at an 1840 era deed from Michigan. Interpreting boilerplate text must be done with care. Benjamin left few records about his origins and this one is maximized for all the clues it contains. 
  •  Issue 20-Giving Up Germany: An 1855 Declaration of Intent. This column looks at an 1855 declaration of intent for George Trautvetter--what it says about him and what it does not.
  • Issue 21-Analyzed in Isolation: An 1855 Guardianship Appointment. This column looks at an 1855 guardianship appointment from Scott County, Iowa.
  • Issue 22-Get Off My Rented Ground: An 1812 Ejectment Survey. A Bourbon County, Kentucky survey that was the result of a court case.
  •  Issue 23-Our Daughter Can Get Hitched: An 1868 Marriage. A underaged bride never goes to the courthouse with her intended to get the license.
  •  Issue 24: About My Husband: Cook County Divorce Statements. This issue takes a look at several statements made in an early 20th century divorce in Cook County, Illinois.
  •  Issue 25-Giving Grandma My Claim. A homestead claim is transferred from a twenty-something female to her aged grandmother in response to a neighbor’s petition.
  •  Issue 26-Contingent Life Estates: the 1912 Will of James Rampley. This will provided for a contingent life estate to one of Rampley’s heirs.
  •  Issue 27-My Grandpa Owned this Farm: The 1942 Affidavit of James Rampley. This statement made in the 1940s documented land ownership for approximately one hundred years earlier.
  •  Issue 28-Too Many Margarets: The 1850and 1860 Census Enumerations of Michael Trautvetter. This issue looks at some confusing census enumerations from Campbell County, Kentucky.
  • Issue 29-The Straw Man: Thomas Tipton in the Credit Under File of James Shores. This issue looks at a file for a credit under purchase of federal land where a straw man was used to complete the transcation.
  • Issue 30-A Year to File: the Death Certificate of Lucinda Kile. This issue takes a look at a death certificate that was filed nearly a year after Lucinda Kile died in Mercer County, Illinois in the 1870s.
  •  Issue 31-Two Sentences: the 1902 Will of August Mortier. This issue takes a look at a two-sentence will from 1902. There’s always more to things than meets the eye.
  •  Issue 32-One Fifth to You: A “Son” Sells His Part. A deed from Nicholas County, Kentucky, where a man styled as the “son” of the deceased sells his interest in the family farm.
  • Issue 33- Why Do I Get 9/567th of Grandpa’s Farm: Fun With Fractions. This issue of Casefile Clues explains how one heir received 9/567th of his grandfather’s farm. It’s not quite as straight forward as you may think.
  •  Issue 34- The Cawiezells Come to Davenport: Estimating Immigration Information. This issues uses census information to formulate an immigrant search strategy for a Swiss family.
  •  Issue 35- Mastering Deeds: Samuel’s Heirs Go to Court. A family fights over their deceased father’s farm resulting in a judge issuing a deed for the property.
  •  Issue 36-M is for Melburn: An 1879 Birth Certificate. Completely analyzing a birth certificate where the middle name’s significance is still not understood.
  •  Issue 37-The Clerk Can’t Find What Is Right There: An 1851 Marriage in St. Louis. A marriage record in St. Louis that the records clerk was unable to locate in the 1890s because he failed to look page by page.
  • Issue 38-My Sun May Marry: Two Kentucky Marriage Bonds. This issue takes a look at two marriage bonds from early 19th century Kentucky where the witness was the real person of interest.
  • Issue 39-Tonyes or Tonjes: A Minor Naturalization from 1889. This issue looks at a minor naturalization from 1889 that provides clues about the witness as well as the individual being naturalized.

Year 1 Issue Topics

  • 52--Benjamin Butler in 1880 and 1870--correlating an 1880 and 1870 census enumeration when the head of household has a different first name
  • 51--Clarifying Clara--a widow's War of 1812 Bounty Land application
  • 50--Special Examiner's Report--Discussion of testimony taken by a Special Examiner in a Union Civil War Pension File
  • 49--Levi Rhodes' War of 1812 Pension--A discussion and and an analysis of a War of 1812 pension issued in 1871.
  • 48--Determining Your Own Chain of Migration--Ways to determine the unique migration chain that your ancestor took
  • 47--Finding the Ellen--Finding someone in an 1870 census when she's a child and I don't have the names of the parents. Discusses proximity searches, eliminating false matches, etc.
  • 46--Ira Located--the correct marriage record for Ira Sargent was located. This issue includes the image and a complete transcription, an analysis, additional searches that were conducted, and where to go next.
  • 45--Organizing My Search for Ira--discusses brainstorming to locate the parents of Ira Sargent, how and why records were prioritized, and how records would be searched.
  • 44--Philip Troutfetter in the Special Collections of the Kansas State Historical Society--fraud, postal investigations, and abandoned wives--all from one relative.
  • 43--Unacquiring Property--ways your ancestor might have "disposed" of his real estate.
  • 42--Multiple Johns--two brothers with the exact same name--apparently.
  • 41--Brick Walls from A to Z--the title says it all--ideas for breaking those brick walls
  • 40--Finding John--analysis, including charts and maps, in an attempt to find a missing 1870 census enumeration.
  • 39--Multiple Marias--Analyzing more than one 1893 obituary for a Swiss immigrant in Iowa.
  • 38--From their Mouth to Your Screen. Discusses all the "filters" information passes through.
  • 37--Pullman Car Company Employment Records. Discusses several employment records from the Pullman Car Company in Chicago. Discusses William Apgar, Thomas Frame, Louis DeMar.
  • 36--Where are they in 1840? Analyzes an individual who is "missing" from an 1840 census. Includes a discussion of how he was "found" and how land records actually solved the problem. Discusses Abraham Wickiser.
  • 35--A 1910 Birth. Analyzes primary and secondary sources for a date and place of birth in 1910 and how differences might not be all that different. Discusses Ida Trautvetter.
  • 34--Ready to Go? Discusses some things to contemplate regarding your genealogy material before you die.
  • 33--Where there is a Will there is Confusion. Analyzes an early 19th century will from Maryland and what the different bequests likely mean and what potentially brought them about. Also discusses different ways some things can be interpreted. Discusses John DeMoss.
  • 32--When There is No Probate. Some things to think about when there is no probate file.
  • 31--Analyzing the Mortgage. Discusses an 1870 era mortgage in Illinois. Discusses John Ufkes and Rolf Habben.
  • 30--Behind the Scenes Chaos. Discusses the importance of thinking about what "caused" a record to be recorded.
  • 29--Un-American Activity. Discusses an invesigation by the fore-runner of the FBI into a German-American family in World War I. Discusses the Fecht family.
  • 28--Do You Ear What I Ear? Discusses things to remember about how things are heard.
  • 27--Analyzing Andrew Trask. Discusses work on an Mass. native (born ca. 1814) who lived in St. Louis, southern-Illinois, and western Illinois where he died in the 1880s. Focuses on analyzing and working on later records to discern patterns, etc. Discusses Andrew Trask.
  • 26--Using Google Books.
  • 25--Finding Valentine. Steps in locating a man whose only real mention is in an 1870 era estate settlement. Discusses how I organized my search for him.
  • 24--The Brick Wall is in Your Head. Talks about ways you may have made your own genealogical brick wall.
  • 23--You Ask and I Wonder. Things that pop in my head when a person asks a certain genealogical question.
  • 22--Crossing the Pond.
  • 21--One Clipping Leads to More.
  • 20--Organizing 1870 Census Search--thoughts on organizing online census searches.
  • 19--Public Sale--Analyzing an old sale bill.
  • 18--Analyzing the Biography--Charting and Organizing what You Know Using a Biography
  • 17--Working with the Professional. Getting started with the professional genealogist who is performing Chicago area work for me.
  • 16--A Lot from Barbara's Lot. Clues from a series of records on a small lot in a town in rural Illinois betwen 1856 and 1905.
  • 15--Finding Gesche's Girls. Tracking down an "evaporating" German native who "condensed" somewhere in the United States.
  • 14--Jumpstarting Your Research. Just some ideas to get you started.
  • 13--Brick Walls and the Census Taker
  • 12--The Heirs Complete the Homestead
  • 11--Is the Wrong Name Correct?
  • 10--Connecting the Iras. Working to determine if two men of the same name are the same man.
  • 09--Pre-1850 Census Analysis. Analzing pre-1850 census records for a family to determine the household structure. Discusses Thomas and Sarah Sledd.
  • 08--Platting Out Thomas Sledd's Heirs. Platting out the estate division of the Thomas Sledd estate in Kentucky in the 1830s. Discusses Thomas Sledd family.
  • 07--Looking for Ira's Lucretia. Working on my "brick wall" Ira through his sister Lucretia. mid-to-late nineteenth century work.
  • 06--The Civil War Pension file of Riley Rampley. An overview of a Union Civil War pension record.
  • 05--Finding a Chicago Christening. How a 1913 era Chicago christening record was found. Discusses Anna Apgar.
  • 04--Multiple Parents
  • 03--Preemption Claim. The Missouri pre-emption land claim of John Lake. Discusses John Lake.
  • 02--Passport Records. Discusses an early twentieth century passport application. Discusses Robert Frame.
  • 01--Lessons from an Estate Record. Analyzes an 1870 era Illinois set of estate records.

Year 2 Issues Of Casefile Clues--

  • Volume 2-Number 1--Problem-Solving--a variety of techniques for breaking through those brick walls.
  • Volume 2-Number 2--A 1907 Committal--An insanity record.
  • Volume 2-Number 3--A 1921 Divorce--looking at a 1921 era divorce from Chicago
  • Volume 2-Number 4--Leaving John's Hands: Documenting Post-Death Land Transfers
  • Volume 2-Number 5--The Acquisition of John Michael Trautvetter's 228 Acres
  • Volume 2-Number 6--The Original Versus the Record Copy
  • Volume 2-Number 7--Multiple Marriage Mayhem:
    Starting the Search for Emma (Sargent) Pollard Ross Oades Pollard Snavly Olenbaugh
  • Volume 2-Number 8--A Handful of Problem-Solving Strategies
  • Volume 2-Number 9--Two-Thirds of an Acre from Uncle John: A Partition Suit Proves a Sibling Relationship
  • Volume 2-Number 10--A Minimal Estate Gives Some Direction: The 1886-1888 Probate of Benjamin Butler
  • Volume 2-Number 11--Signing What We Could Not Read--immigrants unable to read English sign a 1870 era document that is incorrect and a lawsuit results.
  • Volume 2-Number 12--Dad Raised my Daughter--A newspaper account of a court case in the 1880s discusses an early 1870 out-of-wedlock birth.
  • Volume 2-Number 13--Using the 1860 Census to Formulate a Passenger List Search Strategy
  • Volume 2-Number 14--Search Strategy for Benjmamin Butler in pre-1870 Census Records--this looks at ways to find the missing 1850 and 1860 census enumerations for man who "appears" in Iowa in 1870.
  • Volume 2-Number 15--Pre-1850 Census--analyzing 1810-1840 census entries for Thomas Chaney in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.
  • Volume 2-Number 16--Names in the Probate--analyzing various names in a probate settlement from 1903. Nicknames and diminutives were part of the problem.
  • Volume 2-Number 17--Bridging a Twenty-Year Census Gap-1870 to 1860. Showing that an 1870 Iowa, 1880 Missouri, and an 1850 Michigan enumeration are for the same man.
  • Volume 2-Number 18--Four Passports and a Foreign Death: George Washington Drollette. Analyzes four early 20th century passports and a US State Department death report from 1933.
  • Volume 2-Number 19--Diplomatic Employment Applications. Analyzes and summaries letters of support for employment with the US State Department between 1901-1906.
  • Volume 2-Number 20--Just One Wife Who Shaves Her Age. Records hinted that a man might have had more than one wife. Despite age discrepancies and first name variations, we've likely proven that there was just one wife.
  • Volume 2-Number 21--1930 Census: Primary, Secondary, Original, Derivative, Direct and Indirect. You'll never look at a census entry the same way again-also shows how in this case, New York became Kentucky
  • Volume 2-Number 22--Finding the Biegers in 1850. Organizing our search and our negative search results in an attempt to find a German immigrant living in Cincinnati in 1850.
  • Volume 2-Number 23--Separating Two George Butlers--working on two men born in Michigan in the same year with a father of the same name.
  • Volume 2-Number 24-A Minor Naturalization
  • Volume 2-Number 25-Genealogical Potpourri
  • Volume 2-Number 26-Looking for Benjamin-Formulating a Census Search
  • Volume 2-Number 27-An 1849 Cash Land Sale
  • Volume 2-Number 28-From 1820-1870 Analyzing Enoch Tinsley's Census Entries
  • Volume 2-Number 29-Middle Name Issues: Finding Henry J. Fecht in 1870 and Passenger Lists
  • Volume 2-Number 30-The Master Reports--An Assignment of Homestead and Dower in the 1890s
  • Volume 2-Number 31-The Parents Sell 10 Acres-an 1880 era land transaction
  • Volume 2-Number 32-Clues from a Pig Murder--an 1820 era Kentucky Court Case
  • Volume 2-Number 33-Civil War Pension Application-Why My Name's Different
  • Volume 2-Number 34-Staying Focused on Divorces and a German Immigrant
  • Volume 2-Number 35-Strategies for a 1820 New York Birth
  • Volume 2-Number 36-First Appearing in an 1847 Marriage
  • Volume 2-Number 37-The Chattel Property Will from Maryland
  • Volume 2-Number 38-Emmar Osenbaugh Civil War Pension-Proving 6 Husbands(1st Part)
  • Volume 2-Number 39-1870-1880 Era Guardianship Proves All the Children
  • Volume 2-Number 40-Moving Mother-Transferring a Life Estate in 1769
  • Volume 2-Number 41-War of 1812 Bounty Land Application and Surrendered Warrant
  • Volume 2-Number 42--An 1875 Poor Farm Admission for the Smith Family
  • Volume 2-Number 43-An 1811 Tennessee Will
  • Volume 2-Number 44-More Problem-Solving
  • Volume 2-Number 45-Emmar Osenbaugh's Civil War Pension Part II
  • Volume 2-Number 46-Comments on 1856 Missouri Revised Statutes
  • Volume 2-Number 47-A Will Denied--and Why
  • Volume 2-Number 48-Blank Children and Three Completers on a Birth Record
  • Volume 2-Number 49-Petitioning to Administrate an Intestate Probate in 1869
  • Volume 2-Number 50-Fighting the Will of Trientje Sartorius
  • Volume 2-Number 51-With Little to Probate: The Estate of Wesley Jones
  • Volume 2-Number 52-Iam What I Am: An 1860 Census Enumeration

Issue 3-39 is out

Issue 3-39 just went out.

If you are a subscriber and did not receive it, please let me know at


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The issue 37 sent 8 October

The issue that was just mailed was incorrectly numbered 3-37.  It should have been 3-38.

For those who save their issues and use the file numbers to keep track (which is the intent of how we name them), I'll be sending out a corrected issue later today.

My apologies for the mixup.


Issue 3-37 is out

Issue 3-37 of Casefile Clues has been sent. In it we take a look at two marriage bonds from Kentucky where the person of interest is not the bride nor is he the groom. Email me at if you are a subscriber and you did not receive.

I am also ending webinar sales as of 9 October 2013--and closing out the offerings for $5 each.

There's a list here:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Flip Side and Those Numbers

This is the "cover sheet" from an 1830 marriage bond from Nicholas County, Kentucky. In the next issue of Casefile Clues, I've transcribed the numbers even though they are upside down, I'm not certain what they are for, and the calculation appears to be incorrect.

A bigger frustration I have with microfilmed or digital images is the occasional difficulty one has in determining which front and back go together. In the examples discussed in issue 3-37, that's not a problem, but sometimes it is.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wrapping Up Webinar Sales

Wrapping it up--$5 Genealogy Webinar Sale

I have had great fun presenting webinars on a variety of research topics over the past three years. However, for a variety of reasons I’ve decided to no longer sell recordings of my forty previous webinars (extended due to popular demand through 9 October). We will offer support for previous purchases after that time, but no new orders will be processed. If you've been waiting to order, don't wait any longer. Each presentation is $5 each--download is immediate. Our order page is here.

Topics are:
  • Using US Census on
  • Using US Passenger lists on
  • An overview of
  • Brick Walls from A to Z
  • More Brick Walls from A to Z
  • Yet More Brick Walls from A to Z
  • Brick Walls from A to Z--The FINAL One
  • Barbara's Beaus and Gesche's Girls
  • Preparing for Mother's Death
  • Proving Benjamin
  • The Newmans in the 1830-1870 Census: A Case Study
  • The Missing 1840 Census Enumeration
  • Creating Families from pre-1850 Census REcords
  • Court Records: Pig Blood in the Snow
  • The Probate Process; An Overview
  • Tips and Tricks for FamilySearch
  • Female Ancestors
  • Sarah and Susannah: Two 18th Century Virginia Women and Their Property
  • Proving Florence
  • Using
  • Illinois Research
  • Local Land Records in Public Domain Land States
  • The Bureau of Land Management Office Tract Books
  • Sections, Townships, Base Lines, etc--Land Descriptions in Federal Land States
  • Using the Bureau of Land Management Website
  • DeedMapper
  • DeedMapper with Virginia Land Patents
  • What is Not Written
  • The Genealogical Proof Standard for the Non-Professional
  • Charts, Charts, and More Charts
  • Creating Research Plans
  • Making and Proving Your Case
  • Seeing the Patterns: Organizing Your Information
  • Determining Your Own Migration Chain
  • Crossing the Pond
  • Did Your Ancestor Get a Civil War Pension?
  • American Revolutionary War Materials on
  • United States Naturalization Records pre-1920
  • Newspaper Research
Our order page and more information is here:

Thanks for your support of our projects!

Michael John Neill
Genealogy Tip of the Day

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Error in Issue 37--The Year was 1852

Update from issue 3-37:

There was an error in my transcription of the marriage record that appeared in issue 3-37. The transcription should read:

State of Missouri County of St Louis. I John C. Vogel a Justice of the peace within and for the County aforesaid hereby certify that I did this day join in the holy bonds of Matrimony Mr George Rothweiler to Miss Wilhelmina Kraufetter [sic], Both of St Louis County State of Missouri. Given under my hand, this fourth day of December 1851. John C. Vogel Justice of the Peace. Filed and Recorded Jany 14, 1852.

note: in issue 3-37 of Casefile Clues, I incorrectly transcribed this document as being recorded on 14 January 1851. That date of recording was incorrect. There is nothing "off" about this record as far as the dates are concerned. The use of the last name of Kraufetter, instead of Trautvetter, is somewhat unusual.

Sometimes clerks do make mistakes, but transcriptionists sometimes do as well. If the document had actually read 1851, the notation "sic" should have been used after it. That's what the author does when there are clear errors in the records to indicate that the error was not mine and was apparently incorrect in the actual record. "Apparently incorrect" is a good phrase to use here as sometimes what a transcriptionist thinks is wrong is not actually wrong.

Here is the original image:

St. Louis County, Missouri, Marriage Records, 4: 417, George Rothweiler to Wilhelmina Kraufetter; City Recorder, St. Louis; FHL microfilm 528,174.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Issue 37 is out

Email me if you are on our subscriber list and have not received issue 37. Thanks!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

An Upper Corner that is Difficult to Read

This is part of the marriage record that is transcribed in the next issue of Casefile Clues, which is being proofed as this post is typed.

It is an excellent example of an item that was easier to transcribe when I knew what it was already from other records.

It was only located in the marriage register via a manual search--it was not in the index in the front of the volume maintained by the clerk. It can often be necessary to search even indexed materials page by page.

Stay tuned--we'll discuss this item in 3-37 of Casefile Clues.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Issue 36 Is Out

Subscribers to the PDF version of Casefile Clues should have their issue 36. If you do not, please email me at Thanks!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Samuel Neill's Property

In issue 35 of Casefile Clues, we reviewed a Master's Deed that was executed as part of a partition suit involving the heirs of Samuel Neill in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1913.

In reviewing the additional deeds that had been located on Samuel Neill, it became apparent that one deed of purchase had not been located (there were three tracts comprising Samuel's property and two tracts were accounted for in deeds of purchase) and further research needs to be conducted.

There is an additional reason for desiring to obtain the third deed. When Samuel naturalized in 1880, the county treasurer vouched for him having lived in the United States for five years. The treasurer lived in the county seat which was several miles from where Samuel lived. It is possible he knew Samuel had lived there for five years because he had paid property taxes during that time. I will have to see when the third tract was purchased.

The other two were purchased after Samuel naturalized.

So if this third tract was as well, then maybe the collector vouched for him for a different reason.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Was She a Trautvetter or a Hess?

The next issue of Casefile Clues will be one where the research is not finished.

In the earlier days of the newsletter, there were more issues with case studies where the research really was not done. We are returning to that concept because I think there's a group of readers who appreciate seeing the "process" as much as the finished result.

We have discussed the Rothweiler family of St. Louis before--the husband was a Civil War veteran whose wife is a member of my Trautvetter family and I thought I knew her maiden name. Turns out her maiden name may have been incorrect.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Narcisse, Narcy, and Nancy

It probably will not be discussed in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues, but it makes a good point so I thought I would mention it here.

While doing some background work on the property owned by Samuel Neill in Hancock County, Illinois, the deed of purchase for one property mentioned the female grantee three times. 

And that was good, because every time her name was different.

The signature is transcribed as Narcisse. In the acknowledgement, she is listed as Nancy and as Narcy. The clerk has actually underlined the "an" in "Nancy," but has made no notation about the Narcy. My hunch is that Narcy was a diminutive for Narcisse in the eyes of the Justice of the Peace recording the acknowledgement and the clerk transcribing it, but that the clerk was guessing "Nancy" was an error and because it was an error that had to be recorded as such, he underlined the "an" in "Nancy" to indicate it was a mistake. 

Even in deeds there can be clues as to name variants--in this case since they are all on the same document they help to provide actual evidence of the variant. 

The deed in question was dated 20 September 1879, was recorded in Hancock County, Illinois, Deed Book 98, page 539 and is from John F. Hart and Narcisse Hart to Samuel Neill for sixty acres in St. Albans Township. I actually pulled the book off the shelf and viewed it myself and my cousin (3rd cousin to be precise) who works in the recorder's office made the copy. 

Spreading the News About Casefile Clues

Please continue to let your genealogy friends know about Casefile Clues. We rely on no paid advertising, just word of mouth from readers. Feel free to mention us on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media and in emails to your genealogy friends.

I do appreciate those who have let others know about the newsletter--it does help!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Issue 35 is out

Issue 35 has just been sent to subscribers on the distribution list. If you did not receive it, please let me know and I will

I think one request for missing back issues went unfilled--my apologies--please forward me the message at and I will take care of it this time.

Information Versus Evidence

We are wrapping up the edits on issue 35. One of the points of discussion was the use of the word "information" and "evidence."

I tend to use "information" and "evidence" interchangeably. In an attempt to stay consistent with the current use of the word in the "genealogical lexicon," we'll try and use "evidence" as we move forward. For the layman there's probably not that big of a distinction..and from my standpoint it is only one word.

Our overriding goal is to make the newsletter readable and accurate. While we do use the academic journals to provide some guidance, our attempt is not to mimic any of them. We try and avoid the generally cursory treatment of topics that appear in most of the "slick" magazines as well. I know readers have plenty of places to get a shorter discussion of topics and we try and avoid that as well.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Issue 34 is Out

Subscribers to Casefile Clues--PDF version--should have their issue 34 now. Email me at to get your issue if you are a subscriber. And if you are not, consider subscribing at

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Casefile Clues and Writing Suggestions

I've had newsletter readers ask about genealogy writing suggestions on this blog. In the interest of keeping things as "on task" as possible, the Casefile Clues blog will concentrate on newsletter issues, content, document analysis, citation,  and writing and editing discussions directly related to the newsletter. Those who would like writing tips of a more general nature may wish to check out my Rootdig blog where I'm going to be including some of those ideas as we move forward.

Some have compared our article format (especially the articles discussing one record) as similar to the document analysis done by some professionals as a part of their regular work.

Newsletter issues are usually focused on one document. That's fairly easy to start writing about. Time is the problem. The format from one issue to the next is usually similar: introduce the document, transcribe the document, analyze the document, discuss the research goals, and wrap it up with a discussion of further research approaches and the reasons for those approaches. If the article is on a specific family or research problem, the process is slightly different. Readers who are having difficulty with their own family or a record may find a similar approach helpful in their own research.

14000 Facebook Fan Sale

To celebrate our 14000 fans on Facebook for Genealogy Tip of the Day, we're offering 52 issues of Casefile Clues for $14. This will work for new or renewing subscribers. This is the only page with the $14 link.

There is more about Casefile Clues here.

Want samples?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Style Guide for Casefile Clues?

We don't have a specialized style guide for Casefile Clues, but I'm thinking about it. Madaleine uses the Chicago Manual of Style and general NGSQ practices when she's reviewing material before it goes out.

But the author would be better served by having a guide of his own to which he could refer when writing as there are times when he is inconsistent. It would probably make things a little easier on Madaleine as well. We cite materials in the spirit of Evidence Explained, but there is a great deal more to editing and writing besides citations.

We will discuss some of these concerns here on the blog, but we will try and keep it to a sane level--assuming that not all of our readers are concerned with the really fine points of writing and editing.

Unless we get a great demand for it that is!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Issue 33 Is Out

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Citing the Entire Column

This is part of a chart that is being used in the upcoming issue of Casefile Clues. 

Citation of items is always a concern. I'm also concerned about not going "hog wild crazy" on footnotes. The information used to create this chart was taken from separate parts of a partition suit. The chart has over thirty cells. The names all come from one page of a reference--the same page as the portion of the estate. The relationships come from a different page in the record.

I've decided that instead of citing each name, portion, and relationship, we'll just have a citation for the heading of each column as shown in this partial illustration.

That will make the point, but not leave me with thirtyplus footnotes that are extremely repetitive.

Portion of estate[2]
Bernard Dirks
Son of Heipke Dirks
Lena Janssen
Daughter of Heipke Dirks
Bertha Janssen
Daughter of Heipke Dirks
Mary Heidbreder
Daughter of Heipke Dirks

Monday, July 1, 2013

How Did They Decide Those Parts?

Normally when there is an intestate estate, each heir receives an equal amount of their parent's estate. That's not quite the case with the family of Heipke Dirks who died in Adams County, Illinois, in 1924. Typically, the children in a case of this type of estate each receive the same size of the estate and any children of a deceased child would receive together an amount equal to their parent's share.

Here's what each child received:

  • son Bernard Dirks 16/63
  • daughter Lena 9/63
  • daughter Mary 9/63
  • daughter Bertha 9/63
  • daughter Anna 9/63
  • children of deceased daughter Gesche together receive 9/63
  • children of deceased son Henry together receive 2/63
The estate records don't explicitly indicate why Bernard received more than his sisters and why Henry's children received a smaller slice of the pie than the others. 

But we've got it figured out.
Stay tuned. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Casefile Clues Clarification

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Was Augusta Newman a Man or a Woman?

We have actually discussed Augusta Newman in several issues of Casefile Clues before--not just the issue 32 that was recently distributed to subscribers.

This image comes from the Bourbon County, Kentucky, marriage register--showing Augusta's 1815 marriage. The grooms in these entries are always listed first. Readers of issue 32 will remember that the deed that was discussed also involved two members of the Sledd family.

We discussed this marriage record (and the marriage bond) in issue 13 from volume 3 of Casefile Clues.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Issue 32 is out

Email me at if you did not receive the latest issue. Thanks!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Volume 3--Topics for Issues 21-30

Topic list update from year 3

·         Issue 21 – Analyzed in Isolation: An 1855 Guardianship Appointment. In this issue of Casefile Clues, we analyze one document as if it has been located entirely by itself.
·         Issue 22 – Get Off My Rented Ground: An 1812 Ejectment Survey. In this issue of Casefile Clues, we look at a land survey contained in a court case from Bourbon County, Kentucky, in 1812.
·         Issue 23 – Our Daughter Can Get Hitched: An 1868 Marriage. In this issue of Casefile Clues we look at an 1868 Illinois marriage license that contains an actual letter from the parents of the underage bride, instead of a clerk’s annotation that the parents have “given consent.”
·         Issue 24 – About My Husband: Cook County Divorce Statements. In this issue of Casefile Clues, we look at statements made in an early 20th century Chicago area divorce.
·         Issue 25 – Giving Grandma My Claim. In this issue of Casefile Clues, we look at an affidavit contained in an incomplete homestead claim from Dawson County, Nebraska.
·         Issue 26 – Contingent Life Estates: The 1912 Will of James Rampley. The will of James Rampley was admitted to probate by an Illinois court in 1913. The relatively short document provides for his wife and daughter, leaving the balance of his estate to his son upon their demise.
·         Issue 27 – My Grandpa Owned This Farm: The 1942 Affidavit of James Edward Rampley. The thorough researcher who takes the time to plow through every land record involving a family may be rewarded with unexpected treasures, at least sometimes.
·         Issue 28 – Too Many Margarets: The 1850 and 1860 Census Enumerations of Michael Trautvetter. Immigrants rarely migrate in complete isolation. Frequently they are parts of larger chains of migrations including family members or other people they knew “back home.”
·         Issue 29 – The Straw man: Thomas Tipton in the Credit Under File of James Shores. In this issue of Casefile Clues, we look at a nineteenth-century federal land sale that resulted in the use of a straw man to complete the transactions.
·         Issue 30 – A Year to File: The Death Certificate of Lucinda Kile. In this issue of Casefile Clues, we look at a death certificate from 1878 that was not filed until a year later. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Missing Issues, Etc.

If you sent a missing issue request in the last few days, please bear with me until I return from the Family History Center in Salt Lake to process your request. I'm taking the train home and internet is irregular on the train.



Bernhard Dirks Inherits 16/63 of his mother's estate

In a future issue of Casefile Clues, we will be looking at how the estate of Heipke Dirks (from Adams County, Illinois, around 1924) was broken up into these respective portions:

There's a story here. Stay tuned!