Is Each Record the Same Person?


You may have several different records on your ancestor, various census enumerations, city directory references, an obituary, a mention in a county history, a marriage register entry, a death certificate, a mention as a witness on a document, etc.?

How certain are you that each of these references are to the same person? Could there have been two people with the same or similar names? Have you possibly confused two first cousins, a father and a son, or two unrelated people.

It is always possible and something to keep in mind.



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4 thoughts on “Is Each Record the Same Person?

  1. Jade

    There is no one way for each situation. You need a researching strategy that encompasses what records resources that exist for the target time / place.

    In one of my lines, two first-names are repeated for an extended family living in a pretty small area. Only acquisition and careful evaluation of estate, land and tax records assured me to distinguish who exactly had which sets of records, and to have confidence that I had accurately defined their relationships.

    Accurate genealogy requires obtaining and careful analysis of every record you can get your hands on.

  2. BKarlin

    I make Excel spreadsheets where I list each person with the same or similar names and then start sorting through them, grouping those records which refer to the same person together or, if there are only a few, colorcoding them.

    With the various online searches it is possible to have many, many individual records. Reading every record and thinking clearly are the only way through. By doing this I found the second wife of an uncle having only her married name.

  3. GalacticGal

    This is exactly why I’m extrapolating my tree sideways! We have so very many repeated names. I can’t even begin to tell you how very hard it is to separate my fifth great-grandfather from one of his first cousins, also bearing the same name, born in the same year, in fact! It’s crazy-insane. What I have done is make sure I know where many of his first cousins were who they married, when, and the names of their children. He had yet another first cousin by the same name, but that one was was born seven years his junior. By doing this, I have been able to remove possible records I’d found, thinking it was MY direct ancestor. The main thing that helps, in this instance, is that the first cousin, born in the same year, was killed by the Cherokee in 1793, while my fifth great-grandfather went on to live into the 19th century. I was able to realize the militia records for the Southwest Territory (which ultimately became Tennessee) were quite likely of my direct ancestor. As for the other first cousin, he was too young to serve at the time of these records.

    But, it can be rather a hair-pulling time trying to sort it all out. As for finding certain records, I just learned that many of the court records were stolen from the area, a few years after the bitter battle of the lost state of Franklin. Face/palm. Whoever has them, give them back, please. I fear they are nothing more than ashes. May I cry in my soup, now?


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