Sunday, May 30, 2010

Issue 44 delayed

To let subscribers know, issue 44 is delayed--you haven't overlooked it. My annual group trip to Salt Lake, coupled with my daughter's high school graduation got the best of me. And our very able proofreader Sue has been in Illinois visiting cemeteries and doing research in my home county of all places.

Issue 44 will be in your inbox sometime this week. I'll announce it here and on Facebook when it goes out.

Thanks for your patience and your continued support of Casefile Clues. It is greatly appreciated.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Share the News About Casefile Clues

Is there a genealogy friend who you think would enjoy getting Casefile Clues? Be certain to let them know about the newsletter.

Please don't let them know about the newsletter by forwarding copies to them. We try and keep the subscription cost affordable and not forwarding copies helps us to do that.

Your friend can learn more about Casefile Clues on:

Thanks for all the help and for those who spread the news about Casefile Clues. I do appreciate it.

Philip A. Troutfetter

To give readers a visual, this is a picture of Philip A. Troutfetter from the files of the Kansas Historical Society which we'll be discussing in the next issue of Casefile Clues.
Readers have read about the Trautvetter family before and Troutfetter is not a typographical error. For reasons that have been lost to time, Philip's father chose to spell his name as Troutfetter, particularly after his arrival in Thomas County, Kansas.
No citation on this picture, but there will be citations in our upcoming issue of Casefile Clues (subscribe).

Update on Philip Troutfetter Article

The next issue of Casefile Clues contains an investigator's report into Philip Troutfetter from 6 July 1900. The post office investigator reveals that his sister's mail was being watched, Philip's handwriting was being analyzed, and bank records were being investigated. The investigator also discusses how he discovered what Philip's alias was. The investigation is not like one would be today, but it is interesting.

We'll look at it in light of the likely accuracy of things and the numerous sources that are suggested based upon the report. Of course, the investigator didn't cite any sources in the report. We may even pull in a few short quotes from Evidence Explained in our analysis.

Subscribe today and get in on the start of an ongoing series on Philip. As you'll see there's definitely a lot of research that can be done on him. And it goes to show that not all boys from western Kansas lead a mundane existence!

Back Issues and New Subscribers

Requests for back issues and new subscriptions have been processed as of 4:00 p.m. central time today. If you ordered something recently and have not received it, please let me know.

Why not subscribe today? Information on back issues and topics can be found here.

The Start of Part of Philip Troutfetter's Troubles

This investigation is part of what started half of Philip Troutfetter's troubles in the late 1890s.
For reasons that are not clear, Troutfetter apparently gave money to Neely, perhaps as an investment. In investigating drafts Neely deposited.
This is an oversimplification, but Casefile Clues readers will get a much longer discussion of what happened to Philip and how he was investigated in the late 1890s.
This newspaper clipping was discovered on the Library of Congress site through a Google search on Neely. The citation here is not really one in the spirit of Evidence Explained, but ones in the newsletter are.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Look at the Page Numbers

If you can't find your ancestor in a record, look at the page numbers. Are there missing pages in the record? Were all pages microfilmed if that is the form you are using?

Don't assume you have every page--check.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Deed Books are Copies

Remember that deed books, particularly ones before the 1950s that are almost always handwritten or typed, are not the original deed. They are a copy of the original. The buyer of the property got the original deed back after it was recorded.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It is not all online

If the only work you've done on an ancestor has been with online records, you are really selling your research short and likely overlooking significant materials.

(I've posted this before, but it bears repeating). and other online sites only SCRATCH the surface. And remember, genealogy is a BIG ITCH--scratching is never enough!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Casefile Clues 43--PDF sent

PDF subscribers should have their copy of issue 43 of Casefile Clues.

Please let me know if it did not arrive.

If you'd like back issues, email me at with a list of issues you need and I"ll send you a price quote.

I'll be in Salt Lake for my annual group trip and am hoping to pick up some new information for upcoming issues of Casefile Clues.

Getting the Incomplete Google Book

Regular readers will remember from our "Using Google books" article that I found an incomplete reference to the marriage of Clark Sargent and Mary Dingman in Ontario.

Google books only gave me enough information to determine the marriage is included in a series of twentysome books.

The Family History Library in Salt Lake has the set of actual books. I'm putting them on my "to-do" list and hopefully will have an update for readers later.

Google Books doesn't always give the complete information, particularly for books that are still in copyright. But as was pointed out in the article, some information can be harvested from Google Books if you are creative.

In my case, enough was found to know that it's the "right" couple and that I really need to see the actual book.

Casefile Clues work in Salt Lake

Ira Sargent

It has been a while since my search for Ira Sargent was discussed in Casefile Clues. Based upon information discussed earlier, I'm going to make a more concerted effort to find his marriage focusing on counties along the Missouri-Illinois border, starting in the central area of the state and generally working eastward. The reasons for this may be clear from earlier issues, but a follow up article (whether I find the marriage or not) will discuss why this was the initial plan of attack.

Clark Sargent

Ira's likely father died young. I'll use information contained in the Sargent genealogy in an attempt to connect Ira and his siblings to earlier generations. This is one case where skipping a generation may actually help to fill in the blanks. This search will involve early to mid-eighteenth century New England records.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Same Person or Not?

We touched a little on this topic in issue 42--people of the same name and whether or not they are the same person.

In Multiple Johns (issue 42), the reason for the same named individuals was pretty obvious after it was discovered.

We're looking at including more pieces in the vein of separating out individuals of the same name. Keep in mind that it's not always possible to completely separate out two people with the same or similar names, especially if records are scant.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Genealogy Today Reviews Casefile Clues

Genealogy Today did a nice review of Casefile Clues---take a look at what Illya had to say about Casefile Clues--Genealogy how-tos.

We've slipping in a non-case study every 4 or so issues to help keep us on deadline. Hopefully once my June travels are over, we'll be doing a case study every week.

Monday, May 17, 2010


As the summer starts to come upon us and Casefile Clues works towards the conclusion of it's first year, there may be some minor changes afoot. Some of these things have been in the back of my mind for some time, but it was just finding the time to do them.

A style guide.

This will take time and stick-to-it-iveness on my part, but I'm going to start working on a style guide for the newsletter to encourage consistency. As always, Casefile Clues is evolving and changing as time goes on.


There are several individuals and problems that we've partially left "hanging." Over the summer, I hope to work on followup pieces to these earlier columns. In some cases there is more information, but still no real answers. However that is the way research goes.

More charts.

Organizing information in different ways is an important part of genealogy methodology. I've got some ideas for charts that have not been in the newsletter and others that I want to include more often. I'm going to try and incorporate at least one type of analysis chart in each column. Readers who have ideas for charts or organizational approaches they would like to see are welcome to send me an email at

Topics that we've bypassed.

There are a few topics that were on the list of "upcoming" topics that got moved to the backburner when life intervened and time grew short. Sometimes deadline just seem to creep up. Hopefully over the summer, I'll be able to wrap these items up and get out issues devoted to them. Sometimes I have a hard time imagining I've written as many columns as I have and still have all the things on my "to do" list to write about.


I appreciate the support that readers have given the newsletter and those who have "spread the word" have helped Casefile Clues more than they know!

Issue 42-Multiple Johns-sent

Issue 42 has been sent to all subscribers. Two men with the same first and last name who were full brothers--find out how in issue 42.

Want to subscribe? Subscribe today and I'll start your subscription off with issue 42.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Showing those Relationships

For an upcoming issue, I'm working on creating a chart that shows multiple relationships. For a family on which I'm working, here are the basic problems:
  • After their spouses died, A married B.
  • Five years later, the daughter of A marries the son of B.
  • A few years down the road, the granddaughter of A marries the son of B.
  • And before A and B ever married, the daughter of A married a 2nd cousin of B.
Got that straight? It took me a while to figure it out and I might even have left out a relationship along the way.

Casefile Clues tries to have appropriate, easy to interpret illustrations. This one may be a little difficult.

New Sample of Casefile Clues

I'm thinking of replacing the current free sample of Casefile Clues with another issue. Do any readers have any issues that were favorites or that were particularly helpful? Either post your comments here or send the to me privately at


1880 and 1870 census for Issue 42

We are looking at an immigrant family in issue 42, focusing on their 1880 and 1870 census enumerations. Additional resources are suggested and comparing the enumerations made some things more clear than they originally were.

The family had two sons with the same first and last name and issue 42 explains how that happened and how it was discovered.

As usual, our analysis really goes beyond on the ethnic group of this family. Researchers should remember that the problems of social group and class cross all borders. And it is important to remember that problem-solving and tracking your assumptions is essential regardless of where your ancestors were from.

Subscribe now, start your subscription with issue 42, and get in on the fun.

Friday, May 14, 2010

School's Out Discount

I gave my last final on Wednesday and school is out. I'm hoping to get to research some families I haven't worked on in a while.

To celebrate, we're offering a year of Casefile Clues at $15--a reduced price through Saturday May 15th. Subscribe now and get in on the fun, by using this site for order processing. A year is normally $17.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Giving the Gift of Casefile Clues

Want to give your genealogical friend the gift that keeps on giving all year? Give them a year's worth of Casefile Clues.

Orders can be processed here--with a major credit card. A PayPal account is not necessary, it's just what I use to process orders.

When ordering, put your friend's email in the memo/instructions box that comes up. If you forget or don't see it, don't worry. Orders processed through the link on this blog post are coded as gifts and I'll contact the person who paid if the instructions don't come through.

If you want to give 4 or more gift subscriptions, let me know and I'll give you a discounted rate.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Issue 42 update

This is the 1870 census enumeration for the family whose 1880 census enumeration is partially discussed in issue 42 of Casefile Clues. Notice that there are two individuals with the same name in the household.

Part of what I'm struggling with in issue 42 is whether to tell the research "story" in the order it actually happened, or in a different order.

This 1870 enumeration was not located until after the questions the 1880 enumerations raised were answered with other sources. The 1870 was not located because the microfilm of the township where this family lived in 1870 was extremely difficult to read (translation--it looked like gray soup) and the family was not located. After enhanced the digital images this entry was discovered.

I'll think about how to include this in the article, but there's not too much time as the proofreader will be looking for issue 42 in her inbox soon.

And what does that last name look like? That was a whole separate difficulty with this entry.

If you aren't a subscriber, join now and get in on the fun and see what's the answer with this family.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Facebook Comment About Casefile Clues

"I just want to say that your weekly newsletter is really great! I'm pretty savvy with genealogy research, but virtually every issue gives me something new to try or something to check on in the information I already have. Keep up the great work!"

Thanks to Terri C. for posting this to our Fan Page on Facebook. She also gave Casefile Clues 6 stars as well.....Thanks!

The Importance of NOT Correcting

One of the criticisms I have of is how it handles user "corrections." If the handwriting of a census entry is clear and legible and has been transcribed correctly, there is no error in the index or the transcription. If the census taker made a mistake or used the "wrong" spelling of the last name, that's not the fault of the indexer. Those comments should be listed as alternate spellings, not "corrections." Corrections should be things where the transcriber or indexer misread as a "T" what is clearly an "F" or something of that ilk.

In issue 42 we'll see that there's a line in the census that is obviously "wrong" even though the handwriting is clear. Our job as transcriptionist is to copy exactly. Our job as genealogist is to perform the analysis and determine, as best we can, whether the information is likely correct or not and what it tells us about the people in the record.

Issue 42 started out to be just analyzing two men with the same name two pages apart in an 1880 census enumeration and now it seems to be growing. It will have to stop growing pretty soon though as deadlines wait for no one!

Difficulties with Issue 41?

If anyone had difficulties reading or downloading issue 41, please let me know as soon as possible. One person did and hopefully it was an isolated incident (or else an AOL problem). If subscribers with AOL accounts have difficulties, I'll start sending their issues from my AOL account.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Busy Time and a Request

May and June finds my plate with many personal and professional activities. Consequently what time I have for the newsletter will be devoted to research, writing, editing and subscriber issues. Marketing and promotion will have to take a back seat for the foreseeable future. I am hoping to see many readers at upcoming seminars/workshops/conferences over the next few months in:
  • Burbank, California
  • Loveland, Colorado
  • Norman, Oklahoma
Please feel free to introduce yourself if you are in attendance at one of these genealogical events.

If readers know of anyone who might be interested in Casefile Clues, I would appreciate you letting them know about the newsletter. Word of mouth advertising is highly effective.

I do appreciate those who have shared information on Casefile Clues with other researchers. It is greatly appreciated.

Issue 41 PDF version has been sent

The PDF version of issue 41 has been sent to all subscribers who were on the list as of this morning. If you did not receive your copy, please email me.

Included in the email was information on renewing at the original subscription rate of $15. If you did not take advantage of that offer, consider doing so.


Distribution List for issue 41 set

The distribution list for issue 41 has been set--it's a brick wall special.

If you subscribe here today at the regular price, I'll start your subscription off with issue 41.

Or you can take advantage of our Mother's Day Special, too.

Mother's Day Discount

We're running a Mother's Day Special at Casefile Clues. Get
  • Back issues 1-40
  • A year's worth of issues (weekly-52)
for $32. That's $1 for each of your great-great-great-great-grandmothers. And that's $3 off the regular combination price.

Credit card orders can be processed here. If you want to pay by check, send me an email for more information.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Issue 41

Issue 41 is nearing completion--it's "citation lite" to make it easier on all parties concerned, but there are a lot of good ideas in issue 41, many we will be using in future issues.

If you subscribe today or after, your subscription will start with issue 41. Back issues are available for purchase for those who are interested.

We're going to be working hard to maintain our schedule over the next few months. Both Sue and I have travel and research activities scheduled, so my answering of emails might not be as fast as in the past. Please be patient.

And as usual, please let others know about the newsletter---it really does help!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Have You Found Casefile Clues Helpful?

Has Casefile Clues helped you with your research, directly or indirectly? Has there been an article or idea that was particularly useful to you? Some of you who have renewed have given me feedback and I appreciate that.

Let others know about Casefile Clues--spreading the word helps. And to be perfectly honest, it allows me to spend more time researching and writing. Also let me know as that helps me decide what topics to pursue.

I appreciate those who have renewed or extended their subscriptions. You support helps when I feel like I'm drowning in footnotes.

And one subscriber told me that it seems like I cite everything. It may seem like that, but remember that citation is necessary. And as I've mentioned before, when you cite sufficiently you discover more errors and omissions that you ever though possible. Believe me....

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Casefile Clues On Olive Tree Genealogy

Casefile Clues was mentioned on Olive Tree Genealogy yesterday. Site viewers can read what Lorine had to say about Casefile Clues and my answers to some of the questions she asked about the newsletter.

Thanks Lorine!

Recommended to Students

Connie R, a subscriber in the Southwest, has recommended Casefile Clues to students in her genealogy class. She said:
  • "Yours is the best newsletter for learning how to do detailed research. I love it!"

Thanks, Connie! I appreciate the feedback.

If you teach a genealogy class and you'd like to see an issue on a certain topic or concept, please let me know at and I'll see what I can do.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Any Preferred Followups?

I'm getting ready for my annual group trip to Salt Lake at the end of the month and am making my list of research items.

If there's a family you'd like to see a followup on, let me know and I'll put it on my list. A list of previous topics is available on our site.

And if you'd like to join us, there is still room.

Issue 40 blank?

a couple of subscribers reported that their issue 40 came through as some type of blank/empty file. Please let me know if this happened to you and I'll resend.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Comments from Readers

Dan Kane, one of our readers from the greater Chicagoland area, had this to say about Casefile Clues:

  • "one of the true bargains of the genealogical world..."
  • "Michael's 'war stories' make we to double back and check my previous research results"
Thanks Dan.

Sometimes when I write up Casefile Clues I have to go back and doublecheck my results before the article gets finished.

If you're not a reader of Casefile Clues, now's a great time to subscribe. $17 gets you a year of 52 weekly PDF issues. Casefile Clues comes to you--you don't have to go to it!

I've been getting some good suggestions from readers as well--adding those to my list for upcoming topics, which gets longer and longer. I do appreciate the suggestions and readers are welcome to send me more.

Issue 40 typo and renewal at old rate

Issue 40 has a typo in the very first sentence. "On" was used instead of "one." An astute reader pointed it out to me in an early morning email.

Also current subscribers in their email have an option to renew/extend their subscription today at the old $15 rate. That link is in the email that came with issue 40.

There is also information in the cover email about ordering back issues of Casefile Clues.

If you're not a subscriber, you can get Casefile Clues, 52 issues, for $17 by subscribing on our website.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Issue 40 is out

Issue 40 has been sent to Casefile Clues subscribers who get the PDF version. Please let me know if your copy did not arrive.

You can subscribe now and I'll start your subscription with issue 41.

Back issues 1-40 are available for purchase as well.

IF you need alternate payment options, please let me know.

Lost in 1870--Is One Missing Census a Problem?

Issue 40 discusses organizing a 1870 census search for an ancestor with slightly different problems from the earlier issue that tackled a problem in the same era.

This ancestor is fairly well documented in other records. That begs the question:

  • is it really necessary to find him in 1870?
It is a question worth asking--and one that was not asked in the column. Spending half a day looking for him might not be the best use of time. However, finding him may reveal new clues previously unknown.

Or it may simply indicate he was living as a hired man in a township a slight distance from where he "should" have been and listed under a name that was not what I expected.

At any rate, if you want to see how the search was organized and the charts that were used, subscribe now and I'll start your subscription with issue 40. At $17 for 52 monthly issues, it's still a good bang for your genealogy buck!

Casefile Clues a "genealogical bargain"

A subscriber posted to's FB page in a question about subscriptions, etc. that "Casefile Clues was a genealogical bargain."


We appreciate the good word!

Last Day for the Not at NGS Special on Back issues and Subscription to Casefile Clues

Today is the last day!

This week is the annual National Genealogical Society Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Work and other travels prevents me from going to NGS. I know some Casefile Clues subscribers are going to NGS, but I know quite a few others won't be able to for a variety of reasons.

Vendors often offer discounts at the NGS conference. Casefile Clues is offering a discount on a combination of all the back issues (1-39) and a year long subscription. Normally this would cost over $35. This week, through Saturday when the conference is over, we are offering all 39 back issues and a year long subscription for $30!

Click here to process credit card payment or email me for information on other payment options (

I'll be working this week and would love to have fans and blog readers take advantage of the "I'm not at NGS" offer.