Test Your Genealogy I.Q. - Answers
1. C. Mom & Dad
The best place to start is with your own family. Not just with Mom and Dad, but with everyone, especially the older relatives. The biggest regret of most family historians (myself included) is that they didn't ask questions when they could. You will not be able to track down records of your ancestors at libraries, courthouses, or on the Internet if you don't know the names of those you are seeking, approximate dates of their life, and the locations in which they lived. Plus, the stories your relatives have to tell might really be fascinating!
2. B. Town Clerk
In most states, deed records may be obtained by writing to the Registrar of Deeds at the county courthouse. Many New England states, however, do not have county courthouses. Registration of deed transactions in Connecticut was the responsibility of the town clerk. Deed books are found in the town level of jurisdiction rather than the county, and are generally indexed individually. Town clerks also usually have comprehensive indexes to grantors and grantees. These town deed books have been microfilmed up through 1900 and are available for consultation at the Connecticut State Library or through your local Family History Center. The deeds must be searched for by town, however, as there is no statewide index.
The use of a guidebook to determine the appropriate addressee when writing for information is essential. The Genealogist's Address Book by Elizabeth Bentley is an excellent resource, as is Ancestry's Redbook. Online you may be able to find the information you are seeking at genealogy.com's Research Directory or, if you know the name of the office you are looking for, you can use Yahoo Yellow Pages to find the correct address.
3. C. 1900
Your ancestor had not yet been born at the time of the 1880 Federal census, and, by the 1910 census, he more than likely no longer lived with his parents. With a few minor exceptions (6160 names out of a population of 62,979,766), most of the 1890 census was burned.
Census records are among the first records researched by most genealogists because they are widely available, they place your ancestor in a specific place at a specific time, and they offer a wide variety of information which can often lead you to other records. Learning what information is available for each census is an important first step for the amateur genealogist.
4. D. First cousin, once removed
When working on your family history, it's handy to know how to describe your family relationships more exactly. Most of us know what a cousin, or "first cousin" is, but can get a little confused beyond that.
- Cousin (AKA "first cousin")
- The people in your family who have two of the same grandparents as you. In other words, they are the children of your aunts and uncles.
- Second Cousin
- The people in your family who have the same great-grandparents as you., but not the same grandparents. Third cousins would have the same great-great-grandparents as you, and so on.
- When the word "removed" is used to describe a relationship, it indicates that the two people are from different generations. You and your first cousins are in the same generation (two generations younger than your grandparents), so the word "removed" is not used to describe your relationship. The words "once removed" mean that there is a difference of one generation between the two cousins. For example, your mother's first cousin is your first cousin, once removed. This is because there is a difference of one generation between you and your mother's cousin.
- Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference. You are two generations younger than a first cousin of your grandmother, so you and your grandmother's first cousin are first cousins, twice removed.
Here is a relationship chart which can greatly simplify this process of figuring out how two different people in your family are related. Now, when you meet "Cousin Bob" on the Internet, you will be able to let him know that you are actually "fifth cousins, twice removed."
5. D. You Can't Assume Anything
The first question upon seeing this date should be "which century?" Without the presence of all four digits in the year, you have no clues as to whether the person was born in 1703 or 1903. Assuming that you can narrow down the century based on other research, the question then becomes which format was used when the date was recorded? How can you be sure that someone a century ago followed the same format that is popular today?
Even in the present, dates are still expressed in several different ways in various countries. The British would interpret the birthdate of your ancestor to be July 5, while Americans would read it as May 7. To help minimize this type of confusion in your records, use the time-honored format for writing dates in genealogical research: day, month (spelled out), and four-digit year (7 May 1903).
6. A. He didn't leave a will
Intestate means someone that died without leaving a valid will. This doesn't mean an end to the search, however. The court may have stepped in at the time of his death to provide for the transfer of his goods or to assign a guardian for underage children. If you cannot locate a will for your ancestor, then it might be a good idea to search for a probate or estate record.
Unusual terms such as "intestate" show up throughout old documents. Take the time to learn the basic terms of genealogy. You (and your family tree) will benefit in the long run!
7. C. Baptismal Record
Generally, the closer the record is to the date of the event, the more reliable. People's memories become fuzzy with time. Another consideration is who supplied the information. Census information was usually given by a parent, but could also have been given by a friend or neighbor. Also, any census prior to 1850 would have had only an age range, not an actual age. Information on a death certificate is usually filled in by a family member, who was not present at the birth. The family group sheet can really only provide clues for you to research, unless it includes sources that you can verify for yourself.
8. B. A record created at the time of an event by a person with personal knowledge of the facts
All sources are not created equal. Some records will have more value than others, in terms of quality of information. Evidence sources are usually broken down into two categories: primary sources and secondary sources. A primary source is usually a written record, the earliest document in which a particular piece of information was recorded at or near to the time of the event. A secondary data source means, simply, that the information is second-hand. If you write a story about your own wedding, the information is primary. If someone abstracts your story for the newspaper, the information is secondary. Wills are primary sources of information. Most sources of genealogy information are rarely pure primary sources, however. The Federal census, for example, is a mixed source. Generally, a single family member provides the information for the entire family. Some of this information will be primary (the family member providing the information was present when the event occurred) and some will be secondary (a husband was probably not on hand for the birth of his wife, for example).
That being said, secondary sources are still very valuable resources and should not be discounted. Just because someone didn't witness something, doesn't mean they don't have all of the facts straight. It is still a good idea, however, to trace your secondary evidence back to primary sources if at all possible. Collect as much information from as many sources as you can, and consider the preponderance of the evidence.
9. D. None of the above
When you are recording a female on charts, but do not have her maiden name, the proper format is to insert only her first (or given) name. As some women can have the same maiden and married surnames, it would become quite confusing unless you stick to that rule. Women's surnames can be quite tricky. The name you find in documents may be a married name or a maiden name. If a woman is widowed (or divorced) and remarries, the surname in the marriage record may be that of a previous husband. Sometimes this may be distinguished by the record: Mrs. Ann Jones married Mr. William Crisp, indicates a previous marriage to a Mr. Jones.
10. B. Payment awarded for military service.
Bounty land is public land awarded by the federal government to military personnel either as an inducement to serve, as an inducement to remain longer in service, or later, as a reward for service. Government legislation authorized bounty land in 1776, and in subsequent acts, the land and the specific requirements were specified. Bounty land files can be excellent sources of information for the genealogist. The last bounty land act was passed in 1855, but if you had an ancestor who served in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, Indian Wars before 1855, or the Mexican War, then consider writing to the National Archives (form NATF-80) to request a search for a bounty land file.
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