Illinois Ancestors: Genealogist offers advice

Illinois Ancestors: Genealogist offers advice

"Genealogy doesn't have to be difficult, but it helps to have some help along the way."

Michael John Neill's advice is simple, yet timely. He offers advice from his many genealogy blogs, which can be accessed from

His blog called Genealogy Tips of the Day has included the following hints:

— SSDI death benefit not where they really lived.

— Are those old copies deteriorating?

— Anniversary notice?

— Late people may not be dead.

All of Neill's explanations are most helpful. For example, the last tip continues, "A reference to an ancestor as being 'late of Harford County, Maryland,' does not necessarily mean he was dead at the time of the reference.

"What it usually means is that the person was formerly of that area being mentioned — so this reference means the person used to live in Harford County. You don't have evidence someone was dead on 1 January 1823 if the only reference to them being dead on that date is the fact that they were 'late' on that date."

From the website, one may enter an email address to subscribe to his daily tips. Also, the Blog Archive (his past tips) can be accessed by a link at the lower right of the website.

Neill's other blogs

Neill has conveniently listed all his genealogy blogs (along with links to access them or subscribe) at

The blog called Daily Genealogy Transcriber has a daily posting of an actual handwriting sample — as a challenge for readers, with answers usually posted the following day.

Most of his advice is free, with the exception of Casefile Clues, a weekly newsletter that costs $17 for 52 issues.

Neill, a Galesburg resident, has been actively researching his own family for nearly 30 years, has presented day-long seminars on genealogical research for more than 15 years and has hosted workshops and seminars across the United States. Even experienced genealogical researchers can learn much from this expert!

"Genealogy Roadshow"

The "Genealogy Roadshow" has already been a television favorite in Ireland, and now a series with that name will premiere at 8 p.m. Sept. 23 on WILL-TV.

According to Dick Eastman's online newsletter Aug. 21, the TV show will "feature participants who want to explore unverified genealogical claims passed down through family history, which may (or may not) connect them to an event or a historical figure," and will include persons from Detroit; Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; and San Francisco.

A PBS executive, Bethe Hoppe, has stated, "Genealogy Roadshow appeals to Americans interested in learning about their family histories. And it proves that you don't need to be famous to be remarkable."

Genealogy cruise special

Eastman's online genealogy newsletter Aug. 18 mentioned a new genealogy cruise that is scheduled, and less than a week later he announced an early booking special — for a cruise that will be more than a year from now!

The scheduled dates are Dec. 7-14, 2014, for Celebrity Cruise Line's tour of the Eastern Caribbean with four genealogy specialists on board: Gary and Diana Smith, Jana Sloan Broglin and Eastman.

They will offer genealogy classes on the three days while the ship is at sea. As a special feature, attendees may sign up for a one-on-one session with one of the speakers.

The ship will leave from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the ports of call will include San Juan, Puerto Rico; Basseterra, St. Kitts; and St. Maarten.

The early booking specials are for anyone who reserves a cabin before Oct. 6 of this year; read Eastman's early-booking announcement at

The Celebrity Silhouette is capable of carrying 2,886 passengers plus crew and will provide all the amenities expected in a modern cruise ship: gourmet meals, nightly entertainment, and onboard activities. Learn more of this event at This website also offers a link to an informative video. The phone number for Cruise Everything Today! is 800-959-7447.

How convenient to have this wonderful genealogy cruise planned so far in advance, enabling one to plan — and save — for such an experience!

Queries, genealogical questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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