You Know What Happens When we Assume
I want to reiterate why you should question what you’re seeing in online indexes. As more databases come online, I am noticing an explosion of incorrect assumptions drawn. I do understand why certain assumptions are made. The time period is correct; the name is unusual; the children’s names are familiar. It just makes sense.
For example, in dealing with an uncommon given name and common surname, I had a client find a naturalization record online for someone in Georgia with that exact name. However, the ancestor settled on the western Pennsylvania frontier. The migration pattern simply did not fit. Could it have been possible? Yes, as anything is possible. Was it probable? No. This is where knowing early nineteenth century migration patterns was usually from Pennsylvania down into Georgia; not the other way around.
Asking Additional Questions is Essential in Research
In another case, a client had found online a rather common surname in a medium sized town in the 1860 U.S. Census of the city’s poor house, except the father was missing. His name was the unusual one and would have acted as the identifier. I immediately suspected the odd first name pointed to him having Irish Quaker roots. I already knew this common, typically Irish Catholic surname, was also quite prominent in Irish Quaker circles. My subject was not a Catholic; rather was buried in a Baptist cemetery. I automatically began wondering about the Irish Catholics in the city with that surname. Were they actually the ones in the poor house? The mother and children had common Irish given names. The questions themselves not only opened up possibilities, but I believed helped in making correct decisions about which direction to go next.
In the next blog, I will continue with other examples. Always be careful about thinking you have found your ancestor in a database.
But, if you really think you’ve struck gold and would like a professional genealogist to look over your find, please contact me by Clicking Here.
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