Note: This tip is not to say that the five individuals mentioned were not siblings–it’s intended to provide some food for thought.
My great-aunt was born in 1931, the youngest of five siblings. She was thirty-seven years of age when I was born. The first sibling died when I was a junior in high school. The others died over a period of thirty years. Am I a reliable source for their sibling relationship?
Obviously I was not around when they were born or when they were growing up. I saw and interacted with my great-aunt and her siblings, including her oldest brother who was my grandfather. I saw them together at family functions. I saw them acknowledge each other as siblings on numerous occasions. I saw four of them attend their mother’s funeral in 1986 (the youngest son died in 1984).
What I am a source for is that they acted like they were siblings. They acknowledged each other as siblings. Neighbors and other relatives acknowledged them as siblings. Everything I saw indicated they were siblings. That statement I can make confidently based on firsthand knowledge.
What I can’t say at all is:
- where they were born;
- where they lived before I was old enough to remember;
- when they were born–at least not precisely–their birth sequence I would have reasonable knowledge of because I knew them for some time as adults;
- anything I didn’t witness.
Think about that when analyzing something on a death certificate, census, interview, etc.