Blog 2021 09 10 How do we know what to trust?

It can be easy to take other people’s research as correct because it makes sense and aligns with what we hope but have you thoroughly researched their findings with the thought that you want to disprove it.  Sounds counterproductive I know, but that is the mindset I recommend when validating someone else’s research.

You just know I am going to give you some examples so here they are.  We are going to start with one of my researches on who are the parents of Hopewell Adams (Circa 1737 – 1799) and died in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. [i] Hopewell is first seen in Edgecombe in 1766 when he buys land from a Mr. Moses Field. [ii] Researchers for a major genealogical company recommended starting with the illegitimate son of a Hopewell Adams and Sarah Hull in Somerset County, Maryland.

When I took the project on, this theory was quickly put to rest as her son, Hope (also called Hopewell) took the last name Hull and not Adams and he lived and died in Maryland.  So he is not the same person. [iii]

What about the Hopewell Adams then who did father the child, he also lived and died in Maryland in 1768. [iv] Well, he had a son named Hopewell who might have been old enough to be the one who moved to North Carolina.  However, he did not, he also stayed in Maryland. [v]

So, even though hundreds of family group sheets, family trees, and genealogy books state that the Hopewell in North Carolina is the son of the Hopewell Adams we see they are incorrect by taking on an antagonistic approach to validate the information.

Who are the parents of this Hopewell Adams, I will tell if and when I discover more solid facts but I can say it is trending towards one in St. Mary’s County, Maryland who I can no longer find any records for in Maryland after 1759 or so.

Okay, this is just one example, what else?  I have previously written about who an Ambrose Watson (1790 – 1861) whose father everyone believed to be Elijah Watson and I was beginning to believe that as well.  But again, taking the approach of trying to prove he was NOT the father I found the evidence that he was simply a brother who was 21 years older than Ambrose.

In my own family one of my oldest ancestor’s wife was absolutely named Sarah as the church record’s records him and his wife Sarah as charter members.  But who was her father and mother?  Every research has continued saying her maiden name was Banner and therefore her father must be Peter Banner, the only Banner old enough in the area to be the father.  Only, his will lists a daughter named Sarah with a different last name from my ancestor.  So, either he had two daughters named Sarah or he is not my Sarah’s father.

Until you are satisfied that someone else’s research is truly accurate, try to disprove it.  If you can then you know you still have research yet to do and if you cannot disprove it it does not mean it is correct but certainly makes it far more likely.

[i] Edgecombe County, North Carolina, Superior Court, Wills 1758 – 1830 Vol. 1; ADA – BEL, page 2, Will of Hopewell Adams; image ( : accessed 8 December 2020) proved May 1799.

[ii] Edgecombe County, North Carolina, Deed Book C 1763 – 1768, page 414, Deed between Moses Field to Hopewell Addams, ( : accessed 8 December 2020), Edgecombe Superior Court.

[iii] See for more information.

[iv] Somerset County, Maryland, “Prerogative Court, 1635-1777”, p. 690-692, Hope Adams Will, written 5 September 1768 and proved 13 December 1768; image, ( : accessed 8 December 2020), citing Maryland, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1777.

[v] Somerset County, Maryland, “Will Book EB 7, 1788-1799,” folio (page) 208-210, Phillip Adams, son of Hope Adams, names his brother Hope Adams as executor; will written 10 March 1789 and proved 17 April 1792 indicating his brother, Hope Adams, son of Hope Adams was still in Somerset.  Hope Adams, son of Hope and brother to Phillip had his will recorded in Liber EB 17, folio 193, 28 October 1788 in Somerset.