history-genealogy site

This is a site where I will discuss my family genealogy research and related history. When a blog deals with a particular family group, I will try to include it in the title so uninterested people can skip it without skimming it. It is my hope to get feedback on research methods, family members and historical context from other historians, genealogists, and researchers. (c) Barbara L. de Mare 2006, 2007

Location: Englewood, New Jersey, United States

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Top 10 Don'ts

Success in genealogical research involves a lot of don'ts. I am going to list my top 10 don'ts which if followed should greatly aid the accuracy of your research. 1. Never believe anything from a printed genealogy or similar document no matter how good it is supposed to be, without consulting the original. 2. Don't believe a printed genealogy just because it purports to contain sources. Check out the sources yourself. 3. Never believe anything you read on an internet genealogy 4. Never believe anything you read on ancestry which is just an entry from a submitter to the Family History Library, particularly BMDs. 5. Never assume an ancestor isn't yours due to a slight variation in spelling. 6. Don't even believe the ancestor isn't yours if the spelling variation seems major if when you say the two names, they sound similar. 7. Don't believe birthdates on tombstones. Many times the actual birthdate was unknown by the person who supplied the iformation to the funeral home. Other times the tombstones were erected many years after death and the information on them was pure conjecture. 8. Don't believe anything on a death certificate except the date of death and name of the decedent. Some informants just don't care what they tell the funeral director. 9. Never assume anything--if someone disappears from their family group, that certainly does not mean they died. 10. Never limit your research to direct ancestors. Collaterals, particularly siblings, should also be traced. None of my don't are new. All are repeated frequently in the genealogical literature. Nevertheless, they can never ber stressed enough. Those of you who have followed my quest for my 3G grandfather Mathew Smith Chapel knoiw that I would never had found him had I not obeyed almost every don't on the list. Only by obeying #9 did my search even begin. #9: Prior family genealogies had assumed Mathew was dead as he was no longer with his family by 1830.This seemed like a silly assumption to me, so I set out to find what had happened to him. My first search revealed that he was in Columbia County, supposedly married to another woman, and with two children. Although the possibility always existed that this Mathew S. Chapel was someonwe other than my 3G grandfather, I operated on the premise that it was he until that possibility was either proven or ruled out. By obtaining his divorce packet this week I have proven it to be absolutely true. #10: I proved that Mathew's mother had also moved across the mountains to Columbia County when I discovered that the tombstone next to hers was that of her daughter. nI had information indicating that the daughter Ruth married Abiel Sage. #1: All the tombstone readings for Columbia County referred to an R. E. Chapel, wife of Abel Squire. I paid little attention to thiese entries until I visited the cemetery where Mathew's mother was buried, turned over the face down tombstone next to hers, and discivered that it said "Ruth Chapel, wife of Abel Sage." As I recalled that Mathew had a sister Ruth, and as I had my database with me, I looked up her name to confirm my recollection and then saw the name of her husband, just one letter off from the name on the tombstone. By having researched collaterals I could prove that the Sarah Chapel buried in that tombstone was indeed my 4G grandmother. #2: The tombstones had theoretically been read by each of the three or four different people who had published them. Clearly, however, no such field work was dome. The original mistake of "Squire" instead of "Sage" was carried forth in all subsequent collections of tombstone readings. I could continue with more, but this should be sufficient to prove my point.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great list.

11:16 AM  

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