Sunday, January 20, 2013

Deciphering Records

I started doing genealogical research in 1995, and quickly became hooked.  Knowing the identity of my ancestors was the motivating factor, but what I really loved was the research.

I signed-up on around 2000.  While I love the fact that so many people are interested in their family history, it's bothersome that there is so much incorrect information in some of the trees people have posted on Ancestry -- and even more bothersome that people merge another family tree into their own and don't do the research to know if the information is actually correct.  I guess my basic feeling is that it's better to have no ancestors than to have incorrect ones.  It's not that I think I know everything -- because I certainly don't and I've drawn some conclusions that have been wrong, wrong, wrong.  In a small attempt to help clarify information, I've started posting comments on Ancestry's census records -- and will go into more depth here.

Family of John Lemuel Davis of Harris Co., Georgia

The 1880 census record (Ancestry Source Citation: Year: 1880; Census Place: Smiths Cross Roads, Harris, Georgia; Roll: 151; Family History Film: 1254151; Page: 419D; Enumeration District: 056; Image: 0302.) shows:

(John) Lemuel Davis -- head of household
His wife, Mary O. Davis
Nine children
John Davis' "father-in-law" Thomas M. Hadley and his "mother-in-law" "de Lana Hadley"
Sam Spivey, age 15, who is listed as a "border"

If you look only at this census record, the logical conclusion anyone would draw is that Thomas M. Hadley and his wife, "de Lana," were the parents of John Davis' wife, Mary.  But ... that's not correct.  Thomas M. Hadley and his wife, Delaney, were the parents of Lemuel Davis' first wife, Caroline (who died in 1872).

Lemuel Davis married Mary around 1874, according to the 1900 Harris Co., GA, census record of the Davis household.  Another Hadley researcher gives Mary's maiden name as SPIVEY.  I haven't done the research to know if "Spivey" is actually Mary's maiden name or if she was married to someone named "Spivey" before she married Lemuel Davis.  And the first question I have is -- what is the relationship, if any, between the Sam Spivey in the 1880 census and Lemuel's wife, Mary?

I guess the lesson to be learned here is that census records are invaluable, but they can't be the sole source of information about any family.

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