Genealogy #5: Wrong Information

Wrong Information

It’s everywhere.

Names aren’t spelled correctly…or even close.
The birth date is wrong….
The death date is wrong….
The parents are incorrect…or the children are…some are missing…or added….

Stay Flexible

We all run into these situations from time to time…mistakes will happen, and you will find them!
So roll with it.

You never know…sometimes the truly incorrect information is what you started with!

On census sheets, sometimes the actual family members weren’t the ones who were supplying the information.
Or, Grandma was from Tennessee, but born in Virginia.
Or, who is this child named Tommy? Elijah and Dinah didn’t have a child named Tommy. Except they did, and he died before the next census.

This actually came up in my own family: on the 1850 Maine census Cyrus, Sarah, and George were listed. On the 1860 Illinois census Sarah, Lewis and Henry were listed.

What happened?

Well, between 1850 and 1860 two more children were born to Cyrus and Sarah, who then decided to move from Maine to Illinois.
Shortly before the next census, Cyrus and son George died.
Suddenly the whole nucleus had changed, little resembling the same family just ten years prior.

On death certificates, sometimes people supply information that they know was correct…just not the whole story.
Such as…Grandpa’s name was Al. But his legal name was George Alvin.

With my own grandfather, his grave marker was held up for months because of a mistake in information provided.
My grandfather was a World War II veteran, and years ago had made arrangements (with my grandmother) to have a Navy Veteran emblem placed on his tombstone.
Years later, my grandmother had died, and my grandfather remarried. Within months of the 2nd marriage, he died.
When he died, the paperwork was put in motion to process his emblem for the marker.
But his 2nd wife (who understandably did not know him that well) stated on his paperwork that he was not a veteran.

Suddenly all processing came to a halt.

His paperwork wasn’t denied, the processing just stopped.
I don’t know where his emblem and paperwork were during the hold-up…I strongly suspect it was languishing in a military warehouse someplace, right next to the Ark of the Covenant.
But in any case, once I learned of the mix-up I submitted his DD-214 paperwork stating his Honorable Discharge, and things were able to move forward once again.

Mistakes will happen. Just be aware.

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Genealogy #4: Related Writing Projects, part 7

Step #7: Rounding It All Up

After following all the afore-mentioned steps, finally I reach the last four on my list:

List of Questions.
Updating the Genealogy Program information.
Updating the Family Lists.
Updating the State Lists.

The List of Questions is a list I compiled after eyeballing the newly-created Family Lists.
Now that I have done as much immediate research as I plan to at this time, I update the List of Questions connected to each Family List.
Did I answer any questions? Did I come up with new questions? I update one list, and move on to the next.

As I complete the research for each Family List and update the Lists of Questions in turn, I next compare the information I have recently gathered with the Genealogy Program I am using.
If I have new info, I update it at this time.

BTW, if you do a great deal of research through ancestry.com, the newest version of Family Tree Maker (12) works in conjuncion with ancestry.com.
So if you have just updated your family tree with the leaves on ancestry.com, you can easily update your information with Family Tree Maker all in one step.
I don’t have Version 12, so I freely admit I may not fully understand the situation, but here’s my concern with this set-up.
Frequently, the information I find using the family tree feature on ancestry.com is not documented.
So I have gotten into the habit of saving the information I find through the leaves on ancestry.com to the family tree on the site, but I do not update my Family Tree Maker on the lap-top until it is proven (i.e. fully documented).
I do not know if  Version 12 allows you the option of linking it with the family tree on ancestry.com in each instance, or if it’s an all or nothing feature.
All or nothing would stink.

After updating the genealogy program on my computer, I update the Family Lists.
As I have been uncovering information, I update the Family List I’m working with.
The first version is a hand-written list.
All subsequent versions (as I do subsequent research) are typed.
I take the current version (hand-written or typed in black) and make all corrections in red pen, so I may more easily make the necessary changes on the computer.

Lastly, once I have updated all Family Lists, I print them out, highlight the states in varying colors (or at least make sure adjoining states are not the same color. Arkansas and Maryland can share a color with Illinois, as they are all separated) and use these sheets to update the State Lists.

Genealogy #4: Related Writing Projects, part 6

Step #6: familysearch.org

This is the site provided by the LDS church.

For years it was pretty much just people submitting family trees based on little or poor research.
I used it as a base for getting a start on things (after all, even a broken clock is correct twice a day, right?) but eventually the large amounts of wrong information finally got to me, and I didn’t go back for a number of years.
Then just a couple of years ago, all of a sudden many genealogy acquaintances started buzzing about this familysearch.org site again.
When I mentioned the errors, they would just stare at me, and then say, well, it’s a good list of sources.
Good list of sources? What were they talking about?
Well, I finally gave in and checked it out last year, and I am totally amazed.

This is NOT the same site at all.

If they are still listing family trees, I have not found that section yet, as I am happily still diving in amongst all the wonderful, lovely sources of information WORLDWIDE for FREE.
You have GOT to check this one out, if like me, you haven’t in a very long time.

There are birth records, marriage records, death records, probates, and much, much more.

When I proved my lineage to my patriot with DAR this past spring, I did it using a number of sources from this site.
Even more amazingly, they are adding more information all the time!
I cannot say enough about this fantastic site.

Since we’re on the subject of LDS helpful sources, I also want to add that for years the LDS libraries (often located right in your local LDS church) have allowed non-Mormons to not only access their libraries but request certain microfilms to be sent to the LDS church ON YOUR BEHALF whereupon you could view such microfilms right there at the church site.
I do not know if they are still dealing with microfilm, but it may be worth checking into.

Also, if you ever find yourself in Salt Lake City, a trip to the Family History Center (which anyone can visit) is an amazing source of information all in one location! I spent a day there once a few years ago: I was there when it opened, and there when it closed. I took 30 minutes for a lunch break. I never even scratched the surface. Really. If you ever can. Go.

Genealogy #4: Related Writing Projects, part 5

Step #5: Military Records, fold3.com, etc.

The military records on ancestry.com and also on the fold3.com websites are really, really interesting.

If you have an ancestor who served in the military.

If this is you, then there is a veritable treasure trove of information awaiting you between these two sites that may tell you where they served, when they served, with whom they served, and all sorts of additional details.
If you don’t know if they served, check it out. The results may surprise you.

During the Civil War, one of my ancestors was living in California. I thought he wouldn’t be involved, being so far from the action.
But he served in the California Cavalry, Company A.

Another ancestor was in his seventies, living in Illinois during the Civil War.
Too old, right?
Actually, he served six months as a farrier (blacksmith).

One of my ancestors served in the state militia for Massachusetts during the American Revolution.
The information probably wouldn’t be too revealing, except the first time his widow applied for a pension, the application was denied.
So the attorney in charge hunted down all sorts of people yielding a great deal of evidence regarding when and where my ancestor had served.
Not only was it interesting reading, but it sure made it easier when it was time to go through all the service rolls.

Another ancestor was too young to serve in the Revolution…just ten years old.
Actually, DAR has documented him as a patriot…it seems he hauled water to the American soldiers during the Battle of King’s Mountain. Who knew?!

In another case, one documented DAR patriot actually served in both revolution wars: The American Revolution (1776) and the War of 1812 (1812).
Because these two wars are so far apart, most did not serve in both.
We checked on him in the second war “just in case,” and there he was!

One more example: one ancestor was too young for the Civil War…he was 16 when it ended.
But by continuing my research, I did find his documented service as a scout during the Indian Wars.
It may not have been the kind of “service” we normally look for, but it was significant enough that his widow drew a pension!

So whether your ancestor was too young, too old, or just plain lived at the wrong time…research him anyway.
The results may surprise you!

Genealogy #4: Related Writing Projects, part 4

Step #4: DAR and Family Links

The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) organization has a tremendous amount of information available on patriots already accepted for inclusion.
The DAR Library in Washington, DC is incredibly extensive and can be accessed by anyone for a small fee.
However, as most of us do not live in DC, we must rely on what we can access either locally, or by computer.
The Patriot Index Look-up Service is a fantastic source for already proven ancestor-linkage to a known or suspected patriot.
If you are truly looking to join DAR, you may also try connecting with a local chapter.
Often, the local chapter registrar may be able to assist you in simple research methods to find your patriot.

Keep in mind that an individual did not have to serve in the military to be eligible for patriotic recognition: if the person paid taxes, provided aid or supplies, or even served on a jury, this was all considered as service done for the cause of the American colonies, and thus actively patriotic in nature.

You might also check with SAR (Sons of the American Revolution) but be warned: DAR does not accept SAR sources, and vice-versa. Dunno why, but apparently it is a rift that goes way back. Just keep it in mind.

When on this step of the process I also take a moment to consider how family links work within the system of a family.
What I mean is, how do the grandparents relate to the child?
I don’t mean family heritage, here: I mean in geographic relation.
If I cannot locate where the grandparents are buried, I always start poking around where the grandchildren were born.
Don’t just check the birthplace of your direct relation…check where siblings were born, and cousins, too.
Sometimes, you’ll be surprised who all was buried in that area. In one case, I found both sets of grandparents buried in the town where the oldest grandchild was born and raised.

Another often overlooked possibility when trying to identify parents is to check marriage records.
For ALL marriages.
So, you may already have a marriage certificate for your great-grandparents, but does it list the parents, too?
Were either of them married before, or did either re-marry?
I could not locate my great-great-great grandparent’s names.
They were not listed on my great-great grandfather’s marriage certificate…for the first marriage.
Checked the second marriage, and there they were!

Try it out!

Genealogy #4: Related Writing Projects, part 3

Step #3: Census Lists

The most common site from which to get census info is Ancestry.com, but it is by no means the only place.

Skip around on the internet…different places will have different sections at different times, but ancestry.com has all of the federal censuses, and many state censuses, as well, including the newly released 1940 Federal Census.

Just saying.

But, ancestry.com also offers the entire 1880 Federal Census for free at all times.
The 1880 census is a great place to start if your research has taken you back that far…it includes where an individual is from, where their parents are from, and the relationship of the individual to others living in the same household.

Census information is both wonderfully helpful and wildly frustrating all at the same time.
If you have worked with census materials before, you know what I’m talking about.
It is amazingly breathtaking to find your relative, living amongst his or her family members, even if it doesn’t bring about learning anything new.
Just seeing someone YOU are related to, going through their everyday life, right there in black and white is strangely comforting.

Except when you DON’T find that person.

Why isn’t your relative where he/she is supposed to be? There are many, many reasons, including a misspelling of the surname, a misspelling of the town name, a mistaking of Mecklenburg County, Virginia for Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, or…simply that your relative was overlooked, out of town, moved just prior to the census taking, died just prior to the census taking…all sorts of inconvenient trivial reasons.

And then, to make things even more frustrating, a ridiculous amount of information on the census forms is just plain WRONG.
Why is this?
Again, there are any number of reasons, ranging from the census taker misunderstanding what he was told, to family members thinking certain information was true, to neighbors helpfully supplying incorrect information.

On the 1860 Federal Census for Fiddletown, Amador County, California, to my delight and excitement, I found my great-great grandfather living at home with his parents.
To my frustration and chagrin, his mother (my great-great-great grandmother) only had a squiggle representing her name. Her age was listed, but not her name.

It took me much research on future censuses to finally learn her name (Dinah).
With luck, this will not be the case with your research.

Genealogy #4: Related Writing Projects, part 2

After systematically searching every person on my current Name List (still Brawley/Braley) for whom I had not previously located a grave marker, I move on to the next step.

Again, please do not imagine that I am telling you this is the way it must be done! This is just the process that works for me.

Step #2: ancestry.com

This is a paid-site (okay, go ahead and get it out of your system: booooooooooooo) but it does have a set of information that is free.
What ancestry.com is best known for is the vast collection of census lists.
These lists alone are worth the cost of the subscription.
But the site also has a wealth of other categories that are accessible with your payment: birth, marriage, and death records, just to name a few.
And the cost ends up being around 50 cents a day…which is why most of the serious genealogists subscribe.

Okay, off my soapbox.

Except one more thing: the family trees feature, which is my actual Step #2.

You can enter all your relevant family tree info, and even add pictures, stories, or any other relevant data, which is very nice and tidy.
But more importantly, you can instantly compare your family tree with other ancestry.com subscribers’ trees, meaning you are much more likely to connect with someone you are related to…or at least someone who may have data on your ancestry!
This. Is. Huge. Even if they do not have their research documented, it is far, far preferable to have an in-the-ballpark answer, as opposed to no answer or clue at all.

By now you’ve surely seen the commercials for ancestry.com where they feature those little leaves you can click on.

Let me assure you, The Leaves Are Real.
And there are hundreds of them, as you continue adding ancestors and data to your tree!
It takes considerable time and patience, but this is my Step #2: actually loading all the names and data from my Name List into my ancestry.com Family Tree, and then checking and comparing all the leaves.
It will take time. And Patience. But it is amazing the amount of information you will get in return!