Saturday, November 21, 2015


Now that you are finding your ancestors and filling in your tree and family group sheets it is very important to document your discoveries and cite your sources. Some day you may want to verify where you found a document or record, OR you may be asked by another genealogist where you found your proof. 

If you are lucky enough to establish a parent child relationship using primary source records, your task is an easy one.  First you list the document type (will, deed, census, family Bible, birth record or obituary) and where it was found. Either write the source on the back of a printed copy of the document or on the FGS.

Example:  will of John Doe, So-and-so county courthouse, This-and-that state, will book xx, page 123 OR probate file yyy.

If the source is a secondary source record, list the record group and where it is located.  A tertiary source record found in a printed source, list the TITLE, VOLUME NUMBER (if there are more than 1), PAGE NUMBER, AUTHOR, PUBLISHER,  PUBLICATION DATE and ISBN (if there is one) and where you found this printed source. 

If the documentation is found on the internet give the document type, web site title, and URL (web address). 

Just a note here:  Many courthouses will not photocopy their books because it may damage the book’s binding.  If you are planning to visit many courthouses, you may wish to invest in a hand-held scanner-wand.  These are coming down in price and can be purchased starting at about $50 from $40 from

BUT, what do you do if you can’t find definitive proof of a parent-child relationship?  In this situation I go by the “circumstantial rule of 3s.”  This is where you find at least 3 documents that put the suspected parent-child in close proximity.  Examples of these are as follows:
·         They live very close to each other/in the same house/next door and there is at least a 20 year age difference.
·         They have land dealings (deeds) between them
·         They relocate or migrate to the same place at the same time
·         The two individuals appear on the same tax list
·         You can establish a sibling relationship to a known child of an individual
·         They are members of the same church
·         The same unique given names appear in both families
·         Their surnames are the same and there are no others or very few in that area
·         They are buried In the same family plot OR very near each other
If you have at least 3 of these, you can safely assume the two individuals are related, and probably parent-child. 

The last scenario has you finding an individual who you cannot connect even through the rule-of-3s.  You SUSPECT the older of the 2 was the parent of the other –BUT YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO PROOF.  How, if at all, do you enter them on your family tree, OR d you even enter them at all?  I do enter them on my trees BUT I clearly label them ad ASSUMED PARENT or SUSPECTED BUT NOT PROVEN.  You do that to keep other genealogists (the cut-and-paste genealogists) from just copying your work and entering it as gospel/fact on their own trees.  If you later find that connection is proven, and can remove the notation OR, if you find it is an incorrect relationship, you can remove them all together.

Tomorrow: Genetic Genealogy (DNA) What it Can and Can’t Do for you.

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