Blog 2021 08 05 What is “Reasonably Exhaustive Research?”

Blog 2021 08 05 What is “Reasonably Exhaustive Research?”

 

One of the tenets of the Board for Certification of Genealogists is the first of five elements of the Genealogical Proof Standard which is, “A reasonably exhaustive search.”  But what does that mean?

 

It means several things.  To start, do not stop proving something simply because you found one document that supports it.  I have a family Bible that says my Great Great-grandparents were married on 2 November 1880 but the county marriage license and the register shows 1881. [i] Had I stopped at the Bible records I would have the wrong answer.

A recent Genealogy Scavenger Hunt I am running shows the famous silent movie director, Clarence Leon Brown in the 1900 U. S. Census at age 10 living with his father, Larkin H., born in Pennsylvania, and his mother, Catherine, born in Ireland. [ii] However, the birth register shows Larkin was born in Georgia.  If you assume either one is correct alone, you have not conducted “A reasonably exhaustive search.”  We must always try to find no less than two but preferably three documents to support the event.

We must also weigh the specific document to determine which we trust over the other.  In the case of Clarence, the enumerator did not note who gave him the information, and census records are typically less reliable than others.  However, in this case, it is correct.  Using several other records including the 1870 U. S. Census from Delaware County, Pennsylvania, shows a 4-year old Harry, born in Pennsylvania along with his younger brother Hugh, living with his parents and older siblings all of whom were born in Georgia. [iii] To be honest, several documents had conflicting information but the above 1870 census is closer to the fact than the others and does corroborate statements later made by Leon.

In the case of my ancestor’s marriage, the primary reason may have been to conceal the fact that she was already pregnant at the time of their marriage.

When doing research, once again, I reiterate, look for no less than two documents to support the fact and preferably three or more.  If there is any conflict between the three, then further research is required to determine the truth and document the reason for that determination.

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[i] For particular reasons I cannot divulge the specific names involved here.  Family Bible personally held by author.

[ii] 1900 U. S. Census, Worcester County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Grafton Town. Supervisor District 1940, Enumeration District 1633, page 4 (inked) B, Dwelling 77, Family 88, household of Brown, Larkin H., image, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : access 30 July 2021), citing NARA publication T623. Roll 692.

[iii] 1870 U. S. Census, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Borough of South Chester in Chester Township, Village Green Post Office, page 29 (inked), Dwelling 218, family 223, household of Brown, J. M., image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com :accessed 30 July 2021), citing NARA publication M593, Roll 1336/1337.

Blog 2021 07 21 Never Stop Learning

One thing professional genealogists themselves do is to never stop learning.  We will take as many classes as our time and wallets will allow.  We always strongly recommend you do the same.

I will be attending the 3rd year of a 3-year cycle “Research in the South” led by J. Mark Lowe, FUGA, at the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research all of next week.  Then in August, I am attending a weeklong presentation on Law School for Genealogists with Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL, and Richard D. Sayre, CG, CGL at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP).  Since I am doing two institutes this year I chose to forego the National Genealogical Society annual conference.  All of these this year are still virtual which cut down costs considerably.

While you may not be able to spend the money nor take the time out of an already busy schedule to attending there are countless opportunities to attend local genealogy society meetings and a host of online classes available, many of them free, and many which allow you to view at your convenience.  You should really check them out.

One great place to start is https://familytreewebinars.com/ where you can watch for free when they are live and for the first week after each presentation, after that, you need to be a member to get all webinars for free for a whole year and the price is reasonable.  For a great list of where to start, check out FamilySearch.org’s listing at https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Webinars_and_Online_Classes_from_outside_FamilySearch

 

Another thought on Veterans and their #1 supporter

3 June 2021

I was at the GA National Cemetery in Canton, GA yesterday morning paying my respects to Karen since it was 10 years ago yesterday God called her home.  Arriving at about 9:30 I did not expect to see a lot of groundworkers there who were not just taking care of the lawn.  And I was taken back a bit.

First off, so much has changed since the last time I was there and they have opened many new areas, enough to confuse some people.  But they were quite busy, laying out new rows for graves, digging new graves, and replacing grave markers.

Why replace grave markers you might ask?  That means the spouse of the first one to pass has joined them  For example, Karen’s grave has her information on the front about being my wife and that I am the veteran.  On the back is the grave number.  When the day comes for my sons to put me there, the VA will replace that marker with one that has my info on the front and her’s on the back.

We are losing our veterans and the ones who gave them all their moral support at a very fast rate.  Be sure to their stories while they are with us.

I’ll end with a little hint, do not trust the VA grave locator at newer cemeteries (less than 20 years old) as they may renumber sections.  They are not buried here and there, they are buried in chronological order.  Karen is in a full-size grave in June of 2011 so it was section 1, now section 6 but find the section where the front section is 2010 or 2011 and start walking back until you find the year and row that corresponds.  Same with the ones where urns are buried with ashes.

2021 Memorial Day Thoughts

I am sitting here after attending my small town’s Memorial Day Ceremony I reflect on the words spoken by Timothy Zarbo, who served six months in the Gulf War as a member of the United States Air Force.  He stated, “Veterans Day is for those who survived and retired.  Armed Forces Day is for those who are still serving.  Memorial Day is reserved for those who never got to take off their uniform.” [i]

Our American Freedom was paid for by the blood of the patriots who fought and died on the battlefield or from wounds inflicted in that conflict.  We often think about the American Civil War as the first war that pitted brother against brother, father against son, and destroyed families.  In fact, it was the Revolutionary War.  It has been said that about 1/3rd of the population supported the revolution, about 1/3rd opposed it and supported the British (AKA Tories), and about 1/3rd did not take sides but simply wanted to survive the conflict.

More than 1.1 million men and women have died in wartime in our history and nearly half of them were from the Civil War.  They would want us to go on and live and enjoy life and be happy, but they would also want to be remembered.  As today’s guest speaker here in Powder Springs, and numerous folks have said on various programs, “In this world, we die twice; once we when our heart stops beating and the other is when our name is spoken for the very last time.

Let us, as genealogists and family researchers, continue to tell their stories.  Let us commit to never let that second death occur because we have researched and uncovered their stories and tell everyone about them.

 

Larry W. Thomas

Captain, U. S. Army (Retired)

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[i] https://minuteman-militia.com/2021/05/29/veterans-speak-about-memorial-day-its-not-about-us/