Assumptions and What You Don’t Know

Recent research reminded me of the importance of recognizing assumptions and validating what you “think you know.”

I knew cousin William Ehmen was a Lutheran minister in Nebraska in the 1880s. I just assumed that he attended seminary as “a young men” before he was married.  Wrong. He did not go to seminary until he was in his late twenties, had been married for seven years, and was already a father.

He worked for the railroad for a time in Illinois and I learned he had lived in Mendota for a while–I assumed it was because he was working there for the railroad. No. He was attending seminary at what is now Wartburg College in Iowa. In the 1870s it was located in Mendota, Illinois.

I didn’t know that either.

I knew a few things about William and assumed the chronology. That was a mistake.