Ancestry Daily News
NOTE: Images of the biography analyzed in this article
I've got a good outline of the family and their migration. Such a listing helps me look for records in the appropriate places.
Items Without Dates
There are several things mentioned in the biography, without a specific date. These events are crucial to researching the family's history. Having an estimate of the dates of some of these events will also make searching other records easier. Of course, these dates should be entered into my genealogical database, using the biography as a source and using "before ca. 1893," "ca. 1893," and "after ca. 1893" as dates. The "ca." is used because while the book was published in 1893, the information might have been gathered a year or two before the book's publication. I also prefer to do this as the biography may turn out to be incorrect in some cases. If I list the biography as the source of these dates when entering them into my computer database, then I can more adequately analyze them if other records provide different information.
Things That Happened Before The Book Was Published (1893)
Things That Apparently Happened After The Book Was Published (1893)
Things That Were Happening As The Book Was Published
Make A Copy To Highlight
When performing the analysis, I found it helpful to use a highlighter to mark names and certain other items in the biography. Do not use this marker on your original copy. Make a working copy on which you can write and make notations. Some highlighters cause problems when copies are later made with the highlighter present. Highlighters are also not generally considered archivally safe materials.
Armed with my analysis, I am better prepared to begin a search of additional records. The biography provides specific dates of death for Harry's parents. I would start by searching for both their obituaries and for a death certificate for Abraham. Jeanette died in 1875 two years before most Illinois counties began keeping death records. I could also search for a probate file for Abraham. Personally, I would wait to search land records until I had searched for Abraham's probate. If Abraham owned real estate upon his death (and it appears from the biography that he probably did), the inventory of his estate should provide a legal description of that property. This would allow me to determine the precise location and more effectively search land records.
I'll begin searching for this family in the following areas in the following census records. While doing this, I'll work with the most recent census and work my way back in time.
Harry Cheney in the census
Abraham Cheney in the census
Illinois Death Certificate Index?
A search on the Illinois State Death Certificate Index (http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/idphdeathindex.html ), revealed a potential hit for this Harry Cheney. A man by that name died in Christian County, Illinois, in 1926, apparently at the age of seventy-nine. Obtaining a copy of this record should be high on my priority list.
Frankly, I'm done making my list and am ready to research. I'll search the records I've already outlined and see what they tell me. Then, I can regroup and go from there. The records mentioned will provide me with enough information to begin my foray into additional materials. Without knowing what these records tell me, too much additional speculation about research procedures may be a waste of time.
Do more with that biography of your ancestor than just read it and file it. That verbal sketch of your ancestor may be just the ticket to expand your research.
Other genealogy articles by Michael John Neill
Genealogy Section of Ebay
---type in your surname or county and state in the search box that comes up on the left hand side of your screen. I've found and purchased several books this way!