A death certificate indicates that a relative was born Rush County, Indiana, on 23 December 1846.

The tombstone indicates that the relative was born on 25 December 1846.

The 1850 census indicates that the same relative was a native of Indiana and was three years of old at the time of the enumeration. That means that the person was born in either sometime in 1846 or 1847. It’s not additional evidence that the person was born specifically on 23 December 1846. It is consistent with that date of birth (which is good), but the census does not indicate that precise date of birth.

Use the death certificate as the source for the 23 December 1846 birth in Indiana.

Use the tombstone as  the source for the 25 December 1846 birth. Don’t use the tombstone for as a source of the Indiana place of birth since the stone does not provide a place of birth.

Use the census as the source for a 1846-1847 birth in Indiana.

Choose which date you believe to be more reliable and make that your “preferred” date of birth for the person in question. In your notes indicate why you believe that date/place to be the most accurate.

Avoid indicating sources say things that they do not. It will reduce confusion later–especially if other records disagree.



3 Responses

  1. I myself, like to look at the dates on the Census and also use that in calculation for a correct date of birth. For that particular census year especially in that time era, a tax schedule also may include information a close date in the event the census does not have a date on it. Since many people of that era, did not always remember the date of birth they usually could remember the month, so this is also a great addition for a range for the birth as well. Comparison of all census records you can usually find a specified year and or date and month by comparison and also any form of marriage documents that would have been written in the marriage book or marriage bond if one was required. I have also found in some of these official documents that you may also find the entire name of the individual as many census records may have their middle name or even a nickname. These all play into the tracking down of the descendant in question. I have found over 25 years myself that many family members in one location calls a person by their nickname and thus resulting in search records to need to include all names that are known. The spellings also need to be taken into account as not all persons from different time spans had persons who could spell and merely sounded the names out as they heard them. Dialect also plays a factor in the writings of name too ! Many people also place the date of burial down instead of the actual date of death since time in certain aspects of the centuries of the past and even in today’s research of the 20th century in many areas. Having a calendar for the years in question also assist in obtaining the day of the week for those of us who are very detailed oriented in all aspects of research and documentation. County and country migration patterns also plays a roll as well and many people forgo this aspect of their research to place the past name for the time period and then to add what the country/county date of name change is and also plays a very important roll on where to find records as some are housed in the old county while others are moved into the new county. So many ways to track down a person !And do not forget about old newspapers as they also play a roll in names of people with specific dates of people visiting others in their towns from other areas of the country ! Peggy Sue Dalton Druck aka peggydalton58 on Ancestry !

  2. If the month of a person’s birth is known, the date a census page is recorded may help confirm the person’s year of birth.

    • This is true–just be certain to cite what gave the month separately from the census that gave the year. Like many situations, how helpful a certain record is depends on what a person already knows.

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