Thursday, April 21, 2011

You have to be careful with this stuff..

Googling a name out of interest - which is hopefully how people will find this blog - I come across a family tree that looks pretty complete.  One particular relative through marriage is on there, and apparently had fourteen kids!! Hmmm, quite possible I suppose to myself, although you always wonder if someone just sat down with a microfiche, looked at the births in the period with that particular surname and just though, "Oh yeah, they must all be the same family."  

Going a little further into it, I click on the first supposed family member - whose name, I might add, is totally different in feel and appearance from all the other names - and see that she was apparently born in 1850.  Her alleged spouse is listed,; he was born in 1847.  I scroll down to look at their children - again, the author would have us believe that the poor love popped out 13 children - still possible.  However, what is IMPOSSIBLE is the thought that the first child she had was in 1852, when she was aged about two years old and her 'husband' was aged 5.  Yeah, I don't think so.  It's not a slip of the hand either - the children progress up every two years, and one of them even has the same middle name as her!  Must be her child, right?  No, that child was born when the putative mother was only SIX!  

Much more likely, but harder to piece together, is that there were several families by that name in the area - maybe brothers/cousins/uncles - and the child with the same middle name might be a cousin, or the first person might have died as an infant, and the one with the same unusual name as a middle name six years later might be a sibling.  

The lesson is, don't totally trust what other people tell you - everyone makes mistakes, and people get over enthusiastic and assume things that often can't possibly be proven.  I'm as guilty I'm sure as any.  If you find anything that doesn't add up, please let me know.  

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