The First Commandment of genealogical research

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r By Ginny Ackerson

After a couple of recent experiences with “family lore” leading people astray in searching for their families, I am going to talk about the First Genealogical Commandment — THOU SHALT BEGIN WITH WHAT YOU KNOW!!

A mild example of what I am speaking about was my father. When searching for him in recent records, his name appeared as Ray Clarence. However, I could not locate his birth record. I did find a passport application that noted “…name does not match that on birth record” and the list of additional records needed for proof of identification, but it did not mention the name on his birth certificate. I had sent for his birth certificate several times with no success. When the Virginia birth records went online, I was finally able to locate his original birth record, which had been legally amended in the 1940’s to reflect the name my father went by.

A friend had run into a dead end on one of her lines, George Brown, and asked for my help. After analyzing the information presented I realized that her George had been born in northwest Tennessee and the George that she thought was hers was born, married and raised his children in southeast Tennessee, hundreds of miles away. Her George had married then moved across the river to Kentucky, raised his family and died there, less than five miles from where he was born. All of this was documented in his marriage and death records, his children’s birth, marriage and death records, the census, military and other governmental records. His obituary listed his wife, children, parents and siblings and further proved the link. Someone in her family had found a George Brown in Tennessee about the right age and made the connection without going from the known (his son James, who was her grandfather) and finding the documents needed to prove the relationship.

Another friend really wanted to join the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) so found a Revolutionary War soldier with her maiden name and traced him “forward” until she had “proved” her pedigree. Unfortunately, she was in error. She finally started with herself and went backward, finding two legitimate Revolutionary War veterans in her other lines, thus qualifying her to join the DAR.rNext month I will talk about the second genealogical commandment…. How to locate as many records as possible to verify what you think you know and move your pedigree forward.

Chris Baird
Chris Baird
Chris is a family man with a beautiful wife and four kids. Three Girls, One Boy. He enjoys playing basketball, being outdoors, and the old normal.

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