Now that Casefile Clues is back on track, I’m realizing how much fun it actually is to write and I’m reminded of how important actual writing, summarizing, and compiling analysis is to research. It is one thing to think through your reasoning in your mind.
It is another thing to put that reasoning to paper.
Writing up analysis and methodology strengthens your research. That’s true even if you never intend to have anyone else read your written up conclusions.
We’ve done several articles involving Civil War pension applications and we’ll soon be leaving those for other types of records and documents. I’m open to suggestions for what to write about, keeping the following in mind:
- I only write about people that I am actually researching.
- I only write about things of which I have a working knowledge.
- I also tend to focus on things that interest me–bored writers make for bored readers.
If there’s something from an earlier article that really interests you or on which you’d like to see a followup, please let me know.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Issue 3-51 is in draft mode.
It looks at an 1895 will for a potential uncle of mine–Tamme Focken Tammen. The will was found thanks to the statewide probate indexes at Ancestry.com. Tamme died in a location where I had not thought to look for him. I originally had concluded that he died either in Dawson County, Nebraska, or Hancock/Adams Counties in Illinois and that his death had not been recorded.
I’m reasonably certain the will is for the guy I’m looking for, but we just analyze what’s in the document for issue 3-51.
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As we continue to play catchup, we’ll be using examples from several Civil War pension files I’ve obtained over the past several years. Complete pension files are often helpful when the veteran (or his widow if she survived him) was born in a state that did not keep vital records during the time of the birth.
There are other reasons for getting these records, but for those born in locations where there are no vital records, they are particularly helpful.
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I am continuing work on a series of probate/estate cases from three members of the Behrens-Sartorius family in Adams County, Illinois, for upcoming Casefile Clues articles. We are going to be spreading some of them out so that readers don’t get burnt out on the family or the time period.
There were actually seven different files for a total of three estates that were settled. A little organization will be helpful. I created a folder for each of the estate files and downloaded the probate records from Ancestry.com, reminding myself that there may be ledgers and journals the courthouse does not have.
I should have renamed the files after I determined what was in each case, but for now have just left them. The cases, in summary, are:
- herman-sartorius-1–the estate settlement for Herman Sartorius who died in Adams County, Illinois in the early 1880s
- herman-sartoriu-2–the petition by the administrator of the Sartorius estate to sell Herman’s real property
- reka-behrends-estate–an estate opened for Reka Behrens wherein her only estate is her widow’s benefit received from her husband’s estate
- ulfert-behrends-will–the will for Ulfert Behrends who died in Adams County, Illinois, in 1889
- ulfert-behrends-will2–another filming of the will case packet for Ulfert
- volke-sartorius-guardian–the case file wherein Volke Sartorius is appointed guardian for her minor children, done after Ulfert Behrens died.
My organization does not end there. These estates were being settled in the 1880s and all involve Volke Sartorius in one way or another. Her father was appointed administrator of her husband’s estate and he had to petition the court to sell the real estate. Volke bought back her home, but was left with little money. After her father died, she was appointed guardian of her husband’s minor heirs, largely so she could sue her father’s estate for their back wages when they lived with him.
My next step is to make a chart listing all the documents in these files so that I can put them in chronological order. That may help me to notice things I’ve not previously noticed as these case are intertwined.
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