Archive for December, 2013

genealogy records

Genealogy Records Worthy of All Acceptance – Part 1

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Finding Reliable Genealogy Records

genealogy recordsThe Recipe for correct and truthful genealogy records are in the Details: Part 1 of 2

Mmm… Chocolate Cake. I love Chocolate Cake. Grandma used to make what was called “Wacky Cake” which was chocolate sheet cake with a moist rich chocolate center. It was to die for. German Chocolate Cake…”Yah.” Dark Triple Chocolate Cake… be still my heart. Even those little round cakettes (I suppose you could call them)… How does that song go? “Someday they’ll find me all stretched out on my bed, with a handful of Pringles potato chips, and a Ding Dong by my head.”

Yes, I do love chocolate cake; but I don’t know how to make it. Oh, I love to cook; but for some reason, (perhaps it was a natural survival instinct), I never learned to make cake. If I had, you could tip me over and roll me down the street.

But now you ask “What does this have to do with genealogy? With making a Record Worthy of All Acceptation?” Most people do genealogy like I might make chocolate cake. Let’s see, first I picture a chocolate cake in my mind. The initial ingredient… chocolate, of course. Probably lots of it. Some oil, some sugar, some flour. Salt? Do I need salt? I’m not sure, after all this is cake; why would I need salt? Eggs, what about eggs? Do I need one or ten? Do I need to separate them? You know, lay them out on the counter, two inches apart. Not too much butter, I don’t want to get fat. Let’s see… I’m forgetting something. Oh yes, liquid. Do I use water or milk? I’m experienced enough about cooking scrambled eggs to know you use water. But in cake??? Boy, doesn’t this sound delicious? And with records as with chocolate cake, the recipe is in the details.

Family genealogy is published today in a variety of media. It may be presented as a family history book, or presented on an Internet web-page; it can fill a space of data input as a pedigree, or appear as a lineage for a society or association.

Genealogy information may be the framework for legal or probate casework; and details about the origins of a family can be the foundation of medical and scientific discoveries. Genealogies are studied and reviewed by a vast number and variety of readers, be it for secular or religious reasons, all of whom are hoping to find correct and useful information.

A record worthy of all acceptation means a genealogy that presents a correct and truthful interpretation of family history as found in existing records. Unfortunately, due to poor record keeping systems, false information by nefarious individuals, or simply the inadequate skills and education of those collecting and recording data, the vast majority of genealogies fall short of the mark, resulting in a general loss of historical and family memory. Such a loss multiplies with each generation, and in just one or two generations the record of whole families can be lost to the memory of society.

Millions of family lines translate into billions of records. Yet there is only one rule that genealogy researchers need to remember as they gather the names of ancestors:
“Accurately identify and cite the sources for the information you record.”

There, class is over. That’s all you need to know. Yet somehow this message doesn’t often get across. Genealogy information passes from book to paper, or like from mouth to ear like a form of gossip; titillating to hear, but no one can quite remember where it came from. With each telling and each recording the story gets better; imaginary details are added, and the trail back to the source gets dimmer and dimmer. Many years ago I coined what I call “Petty’s Paradigm on Prevaricated Pedigrees.”

Simply put:
Petty’s Paradigm on Prevaricated Pedigrees©
If you have an idea, It’s a possibility;
If you write it down, It becomes a probability;
If published, It becomes a Fact;
And if quoted, It becomes Gospel Truth.

The practice of documenting research and citing resources, or “sourcing” as some prefer to call it, is a concept that has existed in scholarly research for centuries. Our eighth grade teachers tried to drill it into our minds as a “bibliography” when we first learned to write themes and research papers.

Today, genealogy events (names, dates, and places) should be documented and cited, so there is a specific description detailing the name of the record, the type of record it is, and where the record can be found with sufficient clarity that someone else can access it if need be. Documenting your genealogy makes it possible for those who come afterward to continue the research without having to start all over.

(Part 2 of this article will be posted tomorrow)

Looking for help with hard to find records or genealogical questions? Contact Heirlines Family History and Genealogy, breaking through family history walls for almost 40 years. We professionally identify and document ancestry and kinship relationships and verify and certify the family tree with Certified Family Trees™ and Certified Forensic Genealogy Solutions™. We’re ready when you’re ready!

Give us a call and speak with one of our professional genealogists today.

Call toll free 1-800-570-4049 or visit us at www.heirlines.com

James W. Petty, AG, CG, is the Board-Certified and Accredited Professional Genealogist, “Climbing the Family Tree Professionally, Since 1969”. He is President of HEIRLINES Family History & Genealogy, Inc. (www.Heirlines.com), the “Salt Lake City, Utah BBB Accredited Business” trusted professional genealogy research services firm, providing US and International genealogical and historical research for a world-wide clientele.

genealogical records

Righting Wrong Genealogical Records

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Genealogical Records – A Genealogist’s Crusade

A Research Conundrum

genealogical recordsEveryone who has conducted research experiences at one time or another, the disappointment and the frustration felt when the genealogical records they are using do not provide the desired information.

As genealogists we are on a continual search for documented truths about who we are by learning who our ancestors were.

We spend many long hours studying long lists of names on census records, or reading through old registers written in a seemingly ancient style of handwriting (almost all handwriting in today’s age of computers and iPods seems ancient.)It is even more difficult to comprehend doing research in an environment where records are inaccurate, incorrect, or even false.

This is a challenge that all genealogists face, righting wrong records. Forty years ago, a cousin of mine, Karen Denhalter, and I tackled such a research conundrum to find the truth about our common ancestor, William Henry Wright, and his true parentage.

The ancestry of William Henry Wright was dead ended for over 150 years after his arrival in Utah in the 1850’s. William, his brother Joseph, and a sister Jane all joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1840’s, and together claimed to be the children of Edward Wright and Esther Wilson, leaving us with a brickwall in our genealogy.

Extensive research during that century failed to correctly identify and document their parents until it was discovered that the account they gave was false to protect their social pride within their religious community. When all of the genealogy was sorted out, it was found that it contained many inaccurate and even fabricated statements by both the original immigrant ancestors and subsequent generations of well-meaning genealogist grandchildren.

The Brummie’s Story

William was a “Brummie”, a native of Birmingham, Warwickshire, England; born in 1827 and christened at St. Martin’s Parish Church in downtown Birmingham. In the early 1840’s William, his brother Joseph, and a sister Jane Wright heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached by missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and were baptized as members of this new religion.

At the Mormon services held on Bishopgate Street, William met another young convert, Jane Taylor, and they were married. No legal record exists of this marriage that was likely performed in secret because of her parents’ opposition to her membership in the Mormon Church, and association with William.

But a record does exist. William wrote of his marriage and the trials he and Jane experienced in a Missionary Journal kept during his 1882 LDS Missionary Service to his homeland. He spoke of visiting the place on Bishopgate Street where “I and my dear wife were married.” And then mentioned a visit to Handsworth Parish, where “I and my dear wife were married” referring to a second marriage.

Careful research uncovered the fact that Bishopgate Street was the place where the Mormon Elders conducted their services and married William and Jane in 1845. English law at that time required the Non-conformist Church (any religion outside of the Anglican Church including LDS) to obtain a license, and the marrying couple to follow Banns, or be married by License of the Anglican Church. However, these legal requirements were often not followed; thus the only record we have for this first marriage is William’s journal.

A year later in 1846, when it became evident that Jane was expecting a baby, the Taylor family insisted that she and William Wright be “legally” married in the Anglican Parish Church at Handsworth, Staffordshire, England, just outside of Birmingham. Consequently William Henry Wright and Jane Taylor were married twice. Their daughter Julia was born just a few months later.

Eventually, William and Jane Wright, along with his brother Joseph Wright, sister Jane, and their respective spouses, immigrated to America, and settled in Utah where the Latter-day Saints had gathered. With this move, the truth about the Wright Ancestry was left in England and Edward Wright and Esther Wilson would become the family story. A seemingly insurmountable brickwall went up when this genealogy myth crossed the pond. It would take years of research for family genealogists to unscramble the truth with correct documentation.

The Truth

Karen and I learned through in-depth research into parish and civil records, that William, Joseph, and Jane were born out of wedlock in Birmingham along with several other siblings.

Their Mother, Esther Wright, daughter of Samuel Wright and Catherine Wilson, moved to there with her parents from Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire, England. The family lived within the boundaries of St. Phillip’s Parish in Birmingham, but possibly due to the social discomfort of their daughter having children out of wedlock, each child was christened in a different parish church in the Birmingham area.

The records indicate that often Esther was accompanied by her Father, Samuel Wright, who stood in during the christening service, as though he was the father of the child.

This practice continued for Esther Wright until 1836, when she finally married a local silversmith, by the name of William Camm. He may have been the father of some of her children prior to their marriage, and he and Esther had additional children following their marriage.

While William, Joseph, and Jane Wright, and their siblings grew up in the William Camm home, and learned the art and craft of silversmithing from him, when they immigrated to America for their new life in Utah they agreed to a pact, to tell another story about their ancestry.

All of their individual Church records reflect this story, giving their parents’ names as Edward Wright and Esther Wilson; but their 19th Century Birmingham records clearly show that Esther Wright (not Wilson) was a single woman when her children were born. There was no Edward Wright. With this new information, our records have been corrected, and temple work completed for our Wright ancestry.

John 8:32

When you do genealogy, you must always keep in mind the scripture, John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. We were able to right the wrong in our genealogy by not being afraid of the truth and by being willing to work through the brickwalls, questions and doubts. We loved our ancestors more than holding to the myth of a socially acceptable background.

Our goal in genealogy is to prepare a family history record that will be deemed “acceptable” to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This requires us to seriously and boldly search out the truth about our ancestors. Our responsibility is to provide saving ordinances for our loved ones and to stand as witnesses for the truth. When we all gather together before Him at the time of Judgment we want to be able to celebrate with our Fathers. This can only be done by righting the wrong records and creating a true record of our ancestry.

Looking for help with hard to find records or genealogical questions? Contact Heirlines Family History and Genealogy, breaking through family history walls for almost 40 years. We professionally identify and document ancestry and kinship relationships and verify and certify the family tree with Certified Family Trees™ and Certified Forensic Genealogy Solutions™. We’re ready when you’re ready!

Give us a call and speak with one of our professional genealogists today.

Call toll free 1-800-570-4049 or visit us at www.heirlines.com

James W. Petty, AG, CG, is the Board-Certified and Accredited Professional Genealogist, “Climbing the Family Tree Professionally, Since 1969”. He is President of HEIRLINES Family History & Genealogy, Inc. (www.Heirlines.com), the “Salt Lake City, Utah BBB Accredited Business” trusted professional genealogy research services firm, providing US and International genealogical and historical research for a world-wide clientele.

    

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