Archive for ‘Best Practices – genealogy’

March 22, 2014

What’s in a URL?

Standards for genealogical citations say that we are to use the main site only in a citation. For example, the Will of William Crane, found on FamilySearch.org is cited something like this:

“South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671-1977, Volume C, page 75, Image #53.” Will of William Crain, 27 Jan 1842, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 2014) citing Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.

Note the shortening to https://familysearch.org rather than the complete URL to the image on FamilySearch, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-19422-18732-26?cc=1919417&wc=M6NW-ZNL:210902701,210952301

The problems of the impermanence of a Uniform Resource Locator, aka the URL, is a subject of many articles. One such, published in 2011 the abstract of which is located on PubMed.gov, gives some insight into the problem. The url’s cited in 121 studied scientific articles found that 15% were “inaccessible at the time of publication.” A loss of “35% of the original URLs” is observed over the eighteen month time period of the study. The authors recommend the use of webcitation.org to archive articles. Their study reports no loss of the archived articles during the study period[1] when using webcitation.org . According to  the FAQ’s on WebCite® they are “operated and supported by publishers” so there is high likelihood that their site persists.

Personally, I find drilling down through  a site to be time consuming and fraught with wrong turns. I prefer clicking the link in the document and being taken directly to the document. Lately, I have noticed that two of the sites I frequently visit, Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org, seem to be using permalinks. I have not observed instability of links in my citations to those two sites in the past 18 months. However, the links can be very long. To remedy this, the hyperlink can be edited, so that the display text matches the short link, displayed above, while the hyperlink is preserved in the Address text. To locate the hyperlink editor in word, right mouse click on the link in word and select Edit Hyperlink from the menu. The top box is the display text while the bottom is the Address.

“South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671-1977, Volume C, page 75, Image #53.”  Will of William Crain, 27 Jan 1842, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 2014) citing Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.

Edit_hyperlink

The text in the citation was edited to achieve the shortened style but with the information for the permalink imbedded in the URL for ease of access.

Until such time that Persistent URLS, or PURLS are used with consistency, in which URLs persist across time, we need a way to access links in citations quickly and accurately. Also, the link in the citation needs to be short so that the citation doesn’t fill the page. For my citations going forward, I plan to archive sites using  webcitation.org and edit the hyperlink when necessary to shorten the citation.


[1] US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health citing abstract of Thorp AW, Schriger DL. Citations to Web pages in Scientific Articles: The Permanence of Archived References. Ann Emerg Med. 2011 Feb;57(2):165-8. doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2010.11.029. PubMed PMID: 21251524. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21251524. Accessed: 2014-03-22. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/6OGqLquWL)

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May 10, 2012

Why we don’t publish

Harold Henderson in his blog post Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog asks this question, “Why don’t We Write”. Frankly, I write. And write and write! What I don’t do is publish. In fact, I have fears of publishing anywhere but here. I know that I need to publish. I am well aware that, well, with no pretensions of Louis-esque grandeur, après moi, le déluge. Okay, maybe not chaos, but I have no delusions that my children will care one whit about the research into our family. Pretty sure that, after I am gone, the research will be gone, too. I need to publish so that what I know is not lost. In addition to publishing, I need to share. Publishing solely in a paper based fashion without the ability to share research with the wider world, either via film or other shareable means, renders the research as inaccessible as if it were still in my basement, stacked in boxes, just waiting to become so much papier-mâché. Sharing only on my blog will eventually be just as temporary as an obscure family history tucked away in an unreachable library. For my research to survive a generation, I must publish and share.

Yet, I fear publishing because my research isn’t done. I know, I know, nobody’s research ever is. I get it, genealogy is a fool’s errand, once you find one person, you are on the search for at least two more. But, when the search is begun with the question “Who are those two people?” and, after a year of searching with no answer to that question, and piles of information which is leading you no further than you began, you start to have a feeling that there is nothing “worthy” of being published. Prior to this search, I have put together a proof which was built on “preponderance of the evidence”. In those cases, there was a bit more evidence to er, preponder. In my current genealogical idée fixe, the Joshua Case family of Randolph County, Illinois, things are a bit more stubborn. The Cases are an ordinary Midwestern family of six people, Joshua, his wife Catharine, their children Charlotte, Olive, Independence and Andrew Jackson. They don’t seem to have been high on the “Case Family Radar” for anyone other than their descendants. Even for us, some of what we thought we knew turned out to be inaccurate. For example, until finding his will, his name was thought to be Jonathan, based on the 1830 census wherein he is enumerated as such[1]. After finding his will, we now know his name is Joshua[2]. Other than in the census, he is not called Jonathan in any official record found to date. Question one answered, who are the parents of Independence Case Lindsey Lemarr. Joshua Case. Leading to two  more questions. Question two: “Who could Joshua’s family be?” Question three: “What is Catharine’s maiden name?”

DNA evidence of a descendant of Andrew Jackson places him in the Case family of Connecticut and New York[3]. But to which Case family does he belong? There is no one else in Randolph County, IL of the same surname. He is not likely a brother to the Coe Wisner, sometimes spelled Weasner, Case of the neighboring St. Clair county and his brother, Jonathan Wood Case in Wabash County, IL. Coe Weasner Case and Jonathan and other sons are named in the will of their father, Daniel of Minisink, Orange, New York[4]. There is no Joshua among them. According to the Popenoe, Popnoe, Poppino & Allied Families[5], and Dlouhy Family Ties websites the children named in the will are Jonathan, Coe Wisner, Daniel, David, John Elizabeth, and Julianna. Another daughter, Maria, was born after Daniel’s death[6]. Comparing the number of males in Daniel’s family in census records, 5 in 1800 and 5 in 1810, to the  number of sons as named in the will, suggests that Joshua was not a previously settled upon and therefore unnamed son. However, I want to examine the will or a transcription of it before ruling them out, completely. Especially since Independence places Joshua’s birthplace in New York and Catharine’s in Indiana in both the 1880 census[7] and 1900 census[8]. If this is accurate, he might be a cousin or some other relation to Coe Weasner and Jonathan Case brothers of Illinois as they were born in Orange, New York. However, Olive states nothing for his birthplace in the 1880[9] census and Ohio in the 1900[10] census. Jackson states both of his parents were born in Iowa[11] in 1880 and in Massachusetts in 1900[12]. I could try searching New York, having searched the deeds and wills of relevant and possibly connected families of Randolph County, Illinois. How many Case families could there be in 1830, right? Turns out, a bunch. In 1830, there are 354 families named Case found in Ancestry.com’s index. I could start in Orange County, where the pool narrows substantially, to fifteen, or even narrow it to Minisink, where the pool drops sharply to four, three if Daniel is not considered. Even so, if this Joshua is not named in a will, then I am back to square one. Frankly, a Joshua named in a will would tell me next to nothing if there were no supporting details to tell me that that Joshua was my Joshua.

Joshua witnessed a deed in 1829 in Randolph County,[13] between Charles S. Guthrie, James S. Guthrie, Samuel S. Guthrie, Joseph S. Guthrie, and Cathrine S. Guthrie, and John S. and Polly S. Guthrie[14]. He witnessed this deed with James Hathorne, sometimes spelled Hawthorne. I am currently digging through the films for more records involving this James. From the Probate records, all of the Guthrie’s were heirs of George and Nancy Guthrie.[15] James Hathorne was likely the son of a Samuel Hathorne, whose minor children were Elizabeth, AKA Betsey, Hathorne, James  M. Hathorne, John Hathorne, David  Hathorne, and Saira, I’m guessing that’s Sarah, Hathorne. James Hathorne and Samuel Hathorne were appointed guardians of the minor children of Samuel Hathorne[16].

In 1830, Joshua bought his land from the heirs of William Peach[17]. These heirs are named in the deed: William Peach and Priscilla, his wife, Levi Simmons and Lois, his wife, William Simmons and Mary his wife, and Charles Darrow and Sally, his wife. Lois, Sally and Mary are the daughters of William, that is they are, Lois Peach Simmons[18], Sally Peach Darrow and Mary Peach Simmons. Additionally, Priscilla Peach was a Simmons[19]. Clearly, there is a heavy association between the Peaches and the Simmons. I searched the deeds and wills and probate records on film for Randolph County, Illinois to learn more about the Peach family and the Simmons families. William Peach died intestate sometime before 30 Nov 1824. Sarah Peach, presumably his wife and not his daughter, and William Peach received letters of administration for his estate[20]. A little online research revealed that my assumption that she was his wife was correct as Sarah Pearce  and William Peach married 22 January 1800 in Marblehead, Massachusetts[21]. Other heirs unnamed in the deed who were minors at the time of the death of William Peach, were Samuel Peach, John Peach and Eliza Ann Peach[22]. The Peach family of Randolph County, IL has origins with the Puritans of Marblehead, Massachusetts[23]. The Case family was Puritan when they arrived on the shores of America, they settled in Connecticut and Long Island[24].

In 1833, Joshua’s will was witnessed by Luther Simmons and John C. Crozier[25]. Luther Simmons married Nancy Crozier, sister of John C. Crozier[26]. John C. Crozier married Mary “Polly” Lindsay.[27] This may be significant, as Independence Case married a Beverly Lindsey, 16 Apr 1840[28]. Joseph H. Orr was appointed guardian of Olive, Independence and Andrew Jackson; Charlotte chose John C. Crozier as she was over fourteen[29].

So there it is. The entire incomplete little tome. It seems that I can find the marriage records and families of everyone’s marriage record except Joshua and Catharine. Where to go from here? Here is a list of what my choices appear to be. First search all the films for Randolph County, Illinois, read every deed between 1820 and 1844. Then search the available films of Indiana marriages on the off chance they married there, or maybe they married in Arkansas, so search those, too, or maybe the JP lost the crumpled piece of paper with their marriage record on it, in which case you have wasted a lot of money, time and vision. Then search all the wills in New York on the chance that there is a Joshua named therein who can’t be tied to a family or who is obviously “mine”.

Gee, I wish I could get my hands on a film of the St. Clair gazette from 1833-1834.


[1] 1830 US Census; Census Place: Randolph, Illinois; Page:  156; NARA Series:  M19; Roll Number:  22; Family History Film:  0007647

[2] Randolph County, IL, Probate records, 1809-1849, Film number 974986, Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975

[3] Case Family (including Cass/Casse) – Y-DNA Colorized Chart, http://www.familytreedna.com/public/CaseProject/default.aspx?section=ycolorized

[4] Dean, Troy. The David Dean Project: Index to Troy Dean’s Family References, “William Denn A weaver who witnessed will of Daniel Case of Goshen in 1760 Early Orange County Wills, two volumes in One, 1731-1830,” Orange County Genealogical Society, Goshen, NY; LDS Fiche 6117875, p.9″  http://webspace.webring.com/people/wo/ohhitroy/dean/ref/NYordean.htm

[5] Daniel Case millwright of Minisink, Liber A, p 214, abstract in Early Orange Co Wills, part 2 , p18 as cited in Popenoe, Popnoe, Poppino & Allied Families, http://www.popenoe.com/Wood.html, “Deborah Wood, 7 Oct 1777, living in Minisink 1832, m Daniel Case, ca 1771 – 19 Mar 1809.  His will cited children: Jonathan Case, Coe Wisner Case, m Mary Wood, Daniel Case, David Case, John Case, Elizabeth Case,Julianna Case”

[6] Dlouhy, David P. Dlouhy Family Ties, http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=dbdvcw-1&id=I004835.  Daniel Case’s will is listed in Wills from Orange Co., NY: Daniel Case — Minisink, (Millwright). Liber D pg. 203; will 8 “Mar 1809; proved 28 Mar. 1809; wife-Deborah Case; dau-Elisabeth, Julianna (minors); Sons -Jonathan, Coe, Daniel, David, John (minor); Exec-Deborah Case, Wilmott Moore, James Little; Wit-Charles Wood, John Cavanaugh, Samuel Tooker..pg. 9 9. NOTE: Wilmot Moore is the son of David Moore, Jr. & Mary Mapes. There was a daughter Maria, born after Daniel’s death, who married Charles Hunter. (Data from Margaret Wien)”

[7] Year: 1880; Census Place:  Jefferson Newton Arkansas; Roll:  52; Family History Film:  1254052; Page:  635A; Enumeration District:  117; Image:  0575.

[8] Year: 1900; Census Place:  Murray Newton Arkansas; Roll:  70; Page:  15B; Enumeration District:  90; FHL microfilm:  1240070.

[9] Year: 1880; Census Place:  Clay Clark Missouri; Roll:  681; Family History Film:  1254681; Page:  114A; Enumeration District:  035; Image:  0232.

[10] Year: 1900; Census Place:  Clay Clark Missouri; Roll:  848; Page:  2A; Enumeration District:  18; FHL microfilm:  1240848.

[11] Year: 1880; Census Place:  Jefferson Newton Arkansas; Roll:  52; Family History Film:  1254052; Page:  637A; Enumeration District:  117; Image:  0579.

[12] Year: 1900; Census Place:  Boston Newton Arkansas; Roll:  70; Page:  3A; Enumeration District:  92; FHL microfilm:  1240070.

[13] Randolph County, IL, Deeds v. O 1822-1834, Film number 956818, Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975

[14] Her name is rendered as Catharine in the Probate record.

[15] Randolph County, IL, Probate records, 1809-1849, Film number 974986, Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975

[16] Randolph County, IL, Probate records, 1809-1849, Film number 974986, Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975

[17] Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900

[18] Marriage records, Randolph County, Illinois, 1809 to 1870, Married: 29 Nov 1824 in ,Randolph, Illinois, USA, as accessed on Bourdon, Claudia: Claudia’s Families.

[20] Randolph County, IL, Probate records, 1809-1849, Film number 974986, Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975

[21] Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Town Vital Collections, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook).

[22] Randolph County, IL, Probate records, 1809-1849, Film number 974986, Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975

[23] Gordon, Carin, The First Family Chronicles The Peaches. Marblehead Magazine, accessed 2011

[24] McCracken, George H. The Case Family of Connecticut and Long Island, 1958. The American Genealogist, 34

[25] Randolph County, IL, Probate records, 1809-1849, Film number 974986, Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975

[26] Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900

[27] Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900

[28] Marriage records, Randolph County, Illinois, 1809 to 1870, film

[29] Randolph County, IL, Probate records, 1809-1849, Film number 974986, Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975

March 3, 2012

Watch out for that leaf

Ancestry.com is a great tool. Their commercials seem to imply that all you have to do is enter a few names and Presto Magico your entire genealogy will unfold with the touch of a leaf. This is as naive as my belief, when I was a wizened sage of 17 and just starting my genealogical pursuits, that all the records were on file, birth certificates, marriage records, death certificates, etc. Ha ha ha ha ha.

Granted there are many researchers of high caliber willing to share. There are, however, significant problems with some of the information that others upload. Information can be inaccurate and is usually unsourced. Unsourced information is actually better for researchers who know enough not to accept everything given to them as fact, just because someone says it is so. The more dangerous error is when sources are attributed to an event that aren’t really about that event.

For example, the Thomas Crawford of McMinn County, Tennessee who married Priscilla Barnett. If I click on the leaf in my FamilyTreeMaker next to the name of Thomas Crawford, born in Virginia, whose wife’s name is not yet known to us, I get a links to trees which suggest that he is the son of Samuel Crawford and Nancy Forgey, some skip the Priscilla Barnett as wife part altogether.  My information and that of other researchers indicates that the Thomas Crawford, who was married to Priscilla Barnett, was born in 1788 in Tennessee or South Carolina and died in McMinn County, Tennessee in 1839. This would make it highly unlikely that he would be alive and enumerated in Itawamba County, MS. Thus, Thomas Crawford of Tennessee could not have been the Thomas Crawford who fathered Meeky Crawford Evans and others.

Which brings up Meeky Crawford Evans. Meekey, possibly Mary Ann, Crawford is presumed to be a daughter of Thomas as she is living near him in the Federal Census for 1850 of Itawamba County, MS. Thus she could not have been the Mary Crawford enumerated in Lowndes County in 1860, with a different husband and different children.

All of this could possibly happened because one person got a leaf, then merged and before checking the facts and the sources. Moral to the story watch out for that leaf.

 

August 10, 2011

Setting the genealogical record straight

I know old family tales die hard. Sometimes, it takes a lot of evidence to put these tall tales to rest. For example, DNA evidence was required to separate the Stephen and James Langford bunch from the John “Jack” and Rufus Wiley Langford bunch. For years, they were all thought to be brothers and their father said to be a man named John or perhaps Eli. Long story short, the four are not genetically brothers, well, technically Stephen and James may be brothers and John “Jack” and Rufus Wiley may be brothers, but the DNA of Stephen’s descendants doesn’t match that of the descendants of John “Jack” or Rufus, etc. Now we know that Eli is likely the father of the former two and we have a few clues for the father of the latter two, none of whom is named John. This genealogical misunderstanding occurred due to an interview of a grandchild of James Langford, in which a statement made was misinterpreted.

Something like that happened to Jane Mangum. A record was misread, the wrong conclusion was reached, this was passed along as truth. It was then published in a book.

But inventing fiction? That is galling. Especially after this fiction has been proven wrong.

Sigh, this is just getting so tiresome. Let’s get this straight, one more time.

Jane Mangum did not marry Jedediah Brown. Not only did she not marry him, she had no children with him. Jane married George W. Crawford on 08 JUN 1841 in Itawamba, MS. The marriage was officiated by Samuel Adair, her brother-in-law. Supporting documentation was found by Kerry Peterson. This handwritten document, in which a nephew of Jane’s, Samuel Newton Adair, details aspects of relationships in his family, proves her marriage to George Washington Crawford and no other and her intergenerational connection to John Mangum, the Patriot. Thus proven it has been accepted by the DAR. A photocopy of the original document was sent to me by Becky Hamblin. The information about Jane (Jeney) is in an excerpt from Samuel Newton Adair, genealogical notes, transcription:

b. “Luna, New Mexico, October 7, 1919. I, Samuel Newton Adair, will write what I know about my mother’s folks. My grandfather’s name was John Mangum and he married Rebecca Noles, so my grandmother’s name was Rebecca Mangrum, my grandfather Mangum was a revolutionary soldier with General Morgan (one of his minute men.) He was taken prisoner with a lot of other men by the british soldiers and they set them on a log and split their heads open, all but my grandfather’s and he had some kind of varmint skin cap on and that and the skull stopped the force of the sword and it glanced off and cut his ear nearly off and they turned him lose. He married after the war was over as stated above. Their children are: Cyrus Mangrum, Joseph Mangrum, John Mangrum, William Mangrum and James Mangrum. The daughter’s names were: Jeney Mangrum, Gemima Mangrum, Rebecca Mangrum, and Lucinda Mangum. They were all my uncles and aunts. Joseph Mangrum married Emiline Hanner, William married Aunt Sally Adair, John married Aunt Mary Ann Adair, James Mangrum married Jane Clark, my father’s niece. I don’t know who uncle Cyrus Mangum married. Jeney Mangrum married George Crawford, Gemima Mangrum married Samuel Jefferson Adair, my father. Rebecca Mangrum married Joseph Adair, my father’s cousin. Lucinda Mangrum married James Richery, my father’s nephew.”

Clearly, Jane married G. W. Crawford, and, as Kerry says it:

Any marriage to Jedediah M. Brown is incorrect and has been passed down falsely from Delta Hale’s book on John Mangum and an incorrect DAR application (Per “California DAR Ancestry Guide” by the California State Society of the National Society of the DAR, 1976: Daughter of John Mangum, Revolutionary War private from South Carolina: “Jennie, b. Jul 14, 1824; m. Jedediah M. Brown.”). Delta appears to probably have seen and misinterpreted an LDS temple endowment ordinance that occurred on 17 Dec 1915 in the Salt Lake Temple for a similar but different individual: “Jane Brown Mangum, b. 14 Jul 1834, Murry Co., Tenn., d. 10 Jul 1913, baptized 1893, endowment at the request of Jedediah M. Brown, [who lists himself as] friend, with Agnes A. B. Robinson acting as proxy.” (Source: FHLfilm 184114, p. 816, ord. 23301, Salt Lake Temple Records, Endowments for the Dead – Female, Book 2D, 1915-1916.)

Why am I revisiting this?
Well, a question popped up the other day on a list to which I belong, regarding same name syndrome. The question was “Can you give examples where someone has glued two family trees together erroneously due to ‘the name is the same’?” My example was, of course, Jane Mangum, daughter of John Mangum, the Patriot. BT-dubs, we don’t call him the Patriot out of associative pride, but due to the many men named John Mangum who existed at about the same time and within the same line. After seeing the question, I decided to check on Jane Mangum on WorldConnect and on FamilyTreeMaker’s site. After all, it has been several years since this information was found, surely most people have begun to correct their trees.

Nope, now they are making up children.

Just when you think you have done your genealogical duty, somebody blows you off. There are those who refuse to believe a fact pattern supported by documentation: census, written depositions of members of the family from the time period, in this case a nephew, Marriage Records, etc., and refuse to disavow fiction which was born of ignorance of Jane’s life. You see, Jane was the only one of Rebecca Canida Knowles Mangum’s children who did not become Mormon. Hale didn’t know the facts of Jane’s life because neither Jane nor her descendants  lived near her at the time the DAR application was made or the book was being written.

Likely, the marriage information became “pass along”. Initially found in Hale’s book, it was passed from family member to family member. There was no one, until the advent of the internet, who challenged it. I am also pretty clear that whatever “work” was done, was done for these new fictitious children  was done with nothing more in depth than a search on Ancestry.com or from within Familytreemaker, so there is no need to go further than that to keep disproving this.
The citation on this entry for Jane’s alleged marriage to Jedediah Brown in 1855 is actually a link to Ancestry’s copy of her marriage to George Washington in 1841. Jane was not a polyandrist.
It defies logic to assert that Jane had Thomas Jefferson Crawford in 1845 and Martha Jane Brown in 1845.  This Martha Jane Brown is said to have been born 10 years before the fictional marriage to Brown. In fact, the Ancestry.com census search for Martha J. Brown born 1845 in Mississippi does find one person, in the 1850 census, the daughter of Simeon J. and Manerva Brown in Holmes County, Mississippi. There is another Martha Brown, daughter of David and Eliza Brown in Lafayette County, Misssissippi. There is a Martha J. Brown in the 1880 Federal Census enumeration for Panola County, Mississippi,  in a household headed by a Jane Brown.  Martha J. and her mother Jane are enumerated as black. Jane Mangum daughter of John Mangum, was white.
In 1850, in Mississippi, there is only one Jedediah Brown, son of Samuel and Elizabeth, in Yalobusha County. He’s fourteen. In 1870, there is a Jedediah Brown in Bountiful, Utah. He is in the Rebecca Brown family. He’s 4. From the information from Kerry Petersen, above, this is probably the Jedediah Brown who is in the midst of all this confusion. We find Jedediah M. Brown listed with wife Elizabeth, born in England in 1866, again in the 1900 Federal census for South Precinct, Davis, Utah and the 1910 Federal Census for South Bountiful, Davis, Utah. He definitely was not married to Jane Mangum. His children, enumerated with him in 1900 are Samuel, Agnes, Leo F., Elsie E. and Lucy L. In 1910, the children listed are Samuel J., Agnes A, Frederick L, Afton and Emily. In the Federal Census for 1920, now in Salt Lake, Utah, we find Jedediah, Elizabeth, Afton and Emily.

How does this happen? What can we do to prevent it in our own genealogical work? To paraphrase the old real estate adage, “citation, citation, citation”. Meaning, we need to be able to trace the provenance of every fact included in the database. Otherwise, if the pertinent information is called into question, we have no way of knowing what to believe. Of course, whenever possible it pays to make our sources primary, from original documents. Had this been done, Jane’s marriage to George Crawford would have been in Hale’s book, not the erroneous Brown marriage. When I say primary, I mean the original document attesting to the actual event at the precise time it occurred. I don’t like using the terms original or derivative, mostly because in my mathematics related Master’s degree, a derivative is a precise mathematical term referring to measuring how a function changes as the input changes. The sense in genealogy is defined as an item being derived from another source, that is, secondary.
If we can trace the provenance of everything in our database, then erroneous information can be detected by following the trail. Hale’s assertion in her book for the Brown marriage was not based on a fact. If the information in a database is from Hale, then it needs to be removed from that database once a primary source is found which disputes her information. If it is unsourced in the database, perhaps passed from one family member to another without citation, then how can it be determined to be truth or not? It can’t without extensive research. If you don’t cite, you could wind up researching one fact over and over and over and over again.

Also, we must avoid making facts fit the truth as we think we know it. In this case, a “pass-along” genealogy with a phony fact, the Jane Mangum – Jedediah Brown marriage, was the jumping off point. No record could be found for that marriage, it didn’t happen, so it doesn’t exist. To substitute, the census records, above, may have been used to change her name to Eliza Jane, since Jedediah Brown was married to Elizabeth thus making one fact fit the truth as the researcher thought he or she knew it.

Of course, there is always the possibility that someone just made it all up.

March 3, 2011

Concision in Style, Precision in Thought, Decision in Life

Thanks to Victor Hugo, we have a philosophy which sums up how to approach creating genealogical citations. We need to use a concise citation style which tells anyone looking at our data where to get the information. Why? If you don’t know where it came from, how are you going to know where to go to get a copy of it? If you don’t examine a copy of it, how are you going to know if it’s right?

There is no record which is intuitively obvious, so that a reader just knows the origin. There is no person whose memory doesn’t fade. There is no fact, which is included in your database, which can have the source ignored. For example, just because it came from the work of Aunt Emmy Lou, who never cited anything, don’t omit a citation crediting Aunt Emmy Lou’s work. Once you confirm her work add an additional citation or citations. Even if you have pages and pages of paper which back up everything you have in your electronic database, you still need to take the time to include the source of every piece of information in the electronic database.

A good citation tells the reader exactly where to find the document. In my database, there is a record for a marriage which illustrates this very well. The marriage occurred and was recorded in Clark county, Missouri in 1867. It is included in the images, on ancestry.com, for Clark County, Missouri in 1865. Looking at the actual record, transcribed below, and the citation which ancestry.com provides, the latter obviously lacks detail. Suppose one was missing the year, and had only the original information provided by ancestry.com to try to find the marriage record. Could the viewer find the record? Possibly, after going through every film reel at the archives or image on ancestry.com.

Here is the record:

This certifies that the rite of Holy Matrimony was celebrated between James S. Walker of the County of Lee and State of Iowa, Aditha A, Miller of the county of Clark & State of Missouri at the residence of Aditha A. Miller on the 4th of August A.D. 1867. By Thomas J. Musgrove Minister of the Gospel, Filed August 16, 1867 H. M. Hiller, recorder.

and the Citation from Ancestry.com:

Ancestry.com. Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007.
Original data: Missouri Marriage Records. Jefferson City, MO, USA: Missouri State Archives. Microfilm.

Finally, my citation:

Ancestry.com. Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007.
Original data: Missouri Marriage Records. Jefferson City, MO, USA: Missouri State Archives. Microfilm.
Clark, Record Images for Clark, 1865, image 69. Apparently from Reel C (County) 1718 or 1719, Clark County Marriages 1856 – 1872, Indexed

Keep your citations concise and clear and they will always serve as a road map to good data.