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Your favorite not-as-well-known source


Antipatriarch
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In the other threads, we've talked about well-known places to get you started (Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, etc.), and everybody knows the common sources like vital records (birth/marriage/death certificates), census records, etc. What's a source you like or have had success with that people might not know? (Bonus points for sources that go back past 1850, when the aforementioned ones aren't as useful.)

The two that stand out for me as I think about this:

  1. Probate records: Wills and court records that show how a deceased person's estate was divided. If you know where they died and when, and can find such a record, you can net some relatives' names and get a glimpse into their life story. I found an extensive handwritten will left by one fairly well-off relative in Indiana and it filled in several pieces that were a mystery until that point.
  2. Newspapers: Beyond genealogy-specific sources like Ancestry.com, there are several online services specializing in putting newspapers online and scanning and indexing their text, and even Google can find these occasionally. If your relative has a rare or unusually-spelled name (as my grandfather did), and ever made the news, you can find out where and when they lived and again get some details on what was going on in their life. Smaller town newspapers had a lot of community news (who's doing what) so it wasn't just crime and politics that might have made them "newsworthy".

What are some of the lesser-known sources you use in your research? Success stories are always fun and motivating!

Edited by Antipatriarch
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Mine is regional. I use the Cornwall Online Parish Clerks Database. It has a lot of the basics (birth, marriage, death) but it also has non-conformist records and things like bastardy bonds, apprentice indentures, hearth tax, muster rolls, voter lists, etc.

http://www.cornwall-opc-database.org/

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I made a trip to the genealogy room at the St. Louis public library once because my google skills unearthed a book on one branch of the family and that it was housed there.  I’ve also sent requests to the same library for old obituary.  

The most beneficial was the discovery of records online at a site for Montgomery county Illinois which included online census listings so I was able to do a search there of 1880and 1870census records for just the county for a few last names.  

 

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10 hours ago, clueliss said:

I made a trip to the genealogy room at the St. Louis public library once because my google skills unearthed a book on one branch of the family and that it was housed there.

Yes! I've been to this one, it's very nice. There were lots of books there with information on my Illinois relatives... I made a lot of photocopies that day. I also took a day trip once to various libraries and courthouses in central Indiana, and one of the libraries had a really nice genealogy room. These are good resources if you can get to them. If you go, introduce yourself to the librarian(s) and get contact information... one librarian was later willing to look up something I missed while I was there.

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I actually have copies courtesy of my crazy aunt from a cemetery in the St. Louis area of the cards that were on file in the cemetery's office.  I believe she obtained them sometime around 1982.  That cemetery now has an online lookup so I did a search by the last name and cross-referenced it with the hard copies I have.  The hard copies are interesting because you can see exactly who is buried there and a diagram of where they are buried (there is one headstone marker for a number of family members.  It also lists who (usually a family member) is the contact so typically it is for a son in the family. 

Sadly,  on the actual headstones, a lot of the detail has eroded off.  I actually took notes and found myself using a touch and feel for the actual letter or number engraved on the stone in some cases.   

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