Grabbing the First One: Does It Fit What Is Already Known?

Don’t just grab the first record that seems to match the names of the individuals for whom you are looking and assume that it’s the “right people.” It may or may not be them. There can be husband and wife couples with the same or similar names living in the same country, state, county, parish, etc.–particularly if the names are relatively common. Those couples can be unrelated to each other, particularly if the geographic distance is significant. They couple be cousins of the couple of interest–which still means that you’ve got the “wrong people” just wrong people who are related.

Records in the United States all indicate that my Irish immigrant forebears were in Canada by the mid-1860s and that they started having children by the late 1860s. US census records and later death records for the children all consistently indicate that the children were born in Canada or in the United States–some providing a specific location in Canada which helped me to locate the parents’ marriage record. Fully researching the family where they settled also resulted in the location of a brother of the immigrant and that brother’s records allowed me to locate where the family was from in Ireland.

A researcher insisted the couple was married in Ireland because a couple matching their names popped up in an index of Irish marriages–no explanation for the geographic discrepancy. The date was inconsistent with other information known about the couple and their children. It could be that the couple who popped up in the index was them–but the researcher would need to explain why since that date and place was chronologically and geographically inconsistent with what is already known. And there already was a marriage record for that couple with the same names in the place their children were born a year or so before the oldest one arrived.

That couple is probably them.

 

 

Share