Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Proceed with Caution!

When researching family history, I have learned the importance of finding primary sources for information. Although family trees prepared by others can be helpful in research, it is vital to verify the information through a primary source. Some examples from my own experience:
  • My great-great grandfather, John Shaper was born around 1836 and lived in Highland County, Ohio. I had been unable to determine when he had died, so I was quite excited to find that other researchers had discovered that he had died on 10/31/1917 in Highland County. At least one researcher had even provided the death certificate number. I ordered the death certificate and found that it was not my John Shaper, but a much younger person person by the same name.
  • I have been trying to find the names of the parents of my great-great grandmother, Iva Lettitia Tankersley Dudley (known as Lettitia) for several years. She was born in 1811 in Virginia. Some online family trees show that she was the daughter of William and Elizabeth Tankersley of Virginia. One family tree, though, indicated that this Lettitia Tankersley died in Indiana and had never married or had children. I contacted the owner of this family tree, who indicated that she obtained her information from a family bible in the possession of a cousin. It is, therefore, unlikely that this is my Lettitia.

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