|Given Name(s)||Last Name|
From the Ancestry Daily News
Get Wild! Using % and _ at the BLM SiteThis site has always been an excellent source for genealogists. Since the recent debut of a new and improved interface, family historians can make more use of the site and potentially locate ancestors who obtained federal lands, whether through military warrants or outright purchase. One particularly nice feature of this site is the ability to perform wildcard searches. These searches can greatly improve the chance you locate your ancestor in the index (assuming he or she is actually there).
The Percent Symbol (%)
A search for tr%t%etter under the patentee surname resulted in matches for the surnames of Trautfetter and Troutfetter, including a new (to me) patent in Colorado for a distant relative. Had I only entered the "correct" spelling of Trautvetter, I would have missed this reference. If there had been any entries in the index under Trautvetter , tr%t%tter would have caught them.
Another search was for Augusta Newman. His first name sometimes contains the final "a" and sometimes does not and his surname appears in several different variations. It was desired to search for the surnames of Newman, Newmann, Neuman, Neumann and to combine this with a search that would locate August and Augusta as a first name. In this case, the search term entered in the patentee first name box was August% and the search term entered in the patentee last name box was N%m%n. This resulted in several results, none of which appeared to be my ancestor. Remember, no guarantees.
The Underscore ( _ )
A search was desired for a James Kile or Kyle. In this case, I wanted to only have one letter between the K and the l, not none or more than one. A search for K_le would result in hits such as Kile, Kyle, Kale, Kole, etc. The underscore can serve certain search purposes, but make certain you are not overlooking results by using it.
Combing the Two Types of Wildcard Searches
It's not perfect. After all, it will not catch Tensley (notice that the second letter in the surname must be an "I"). It is always important to try and determine what your search will not catch in addition to what it will catch.
What About Soundex (BLM Won't Do It)
How Can I Decide on the Best Way to Search
Go Wild But Not Crazy
It Doesn't Hurt to Try
I need to follow up, but there's a good chance it's my man. William was married to Rebecca Tinsley in 1839 and she lived until at least 1870. The Newmans left Indiana in the 1860s, by which time William had sold this property. If there's a release of dower on the sale of the property in Tipton County, the wife's name may be mentioned and if it's a Rebecca it really helps me make a case for the fact that it's my guy.
No guarantees, no promises, but a little creativity may improve your luck.
Copyright 2000, Michael John Neill. Michael John Neill, is the Course I Coordinator at the Genealogical Institute of Mid America (GIMA) held annually in Springfield, Illinois, and is also on the faculty of Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. Michael is the Web columnist for the FGS FORUM and is on the editorial board of the Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly. He conducts seminars and lectures on a wide variety of genealogical and computer topics and contributes to several genealogical publications, including Ancestry and Genealogical Computing. You can e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Web site at: http://www.rootdig.com/
The BLM site can be searched at:
used by the author on his website with permission
Land & Property Research in the United States by E Wade Hone--an excellent guide to deed and land record research
Other Land Record Articles by Michael John Neill