Genealogy Wise

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Hi all-

If you use information from a genealogy book, do you then research the information from that book to see if it fits?

For instance, for my Trueblood and Steere lines there are genealogy books that have basically become the 'bibles' and 'sources' for our families. But digging deeper into them there are still unanswered questions.

If someone who spent years of their life researching the family and didn't come up with an answer, do you still keep working it? Do you just accept the information from that source and move on?

Or do you treat the book as another source that could be fallible?

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Hello again Kate,

I have found several books that touch on my Moffat line, and a few for my Allen line, too. I view them as a starting point only; or, if I already found the data in another source (a completely separate source - which is often hard to figure out), then I view the book as additional verification.

You bring up a good point about the years of dedicated work that family researchers put into these books. However, I may have access to records that the author did not, or my analysis of the same records may result in a different take. In addition, I don't know about the books for your family lines, but the books I've found for mine have differing levels of citation. With some of the books I've found, it can be very hard to tell what the original sources were, or whether the researcher who wrote the book actually verified the original source.

In many ways, I treat books as one of the most fallible sources I've found. The exception to this would be where the researcher who wrote the book is detailing his/her own life, and the lives of his/her contemporaries within the family. But I still want to verify with my own research.

-Kathleen
Hi Kathleen-

In the case of my Steere family, my ancestor was not even in the first genealogy book. In the second one, it indicates he was the grandson of a Steere, but doesn't list his parents names. The compiler of the second book was a direct descendant of my ancestor, and it appears after years of research either could not determine our ancestor's parentage, or after careful deliberation decided not to include the parentage, as it may have rocked the boat.

There may be records that may answer my questions, but do I go any further, or do I respect what is already written? (Sort of a rhetorical question, but I think there are times when we all have to ask ourselves similar questions).
Heaven forbid I just let a rhetorical question lie...

I don't think that verifying, or even questioning, what is already written is indicative of a lack of respect. To my way of thinking, if I'm just going to accept someone else's research as gospel truth, then I'm not much of a researcher myself.

You again bring up an interesting point: if a particular ancestor's parentage was discovered by the author or compiler and was consciously omitted because it may have “rocked the boat,” then is it your place (or mine or anyone else’s) to set that boat a-rockin’ now? Well, for one thing, without doing our own research, we have no way of knowing what the true story is, and have no way of making our own informed decisions. Also, times change. What may have once been scandalous may now be accepted as humans being human.

Even if a particular ancestor’s story would still be viewed as troubling by our larger families, we are doing a disservice to our own research and to future researchers if we don’t find the answers and document them. If the situation is extremely sensitive, then you can always keep the information private until a later date.

What do you think?
LOL :)

Yup rhetorical questions are always dangerous. In this case, if I can 'prove' his parentage, I will probably prove that the Steeres in my line aren't Steeres, and haven't been since 1779. so it would do more than rock the boat.
Indeed. I would say that it depends on your comfort level, then - knowing what the consequences could be. As long as you want to find and could accept the answer - whatever it may be - then, again, you could always keep your knowledge private from others if need be.
Very true, Gene-

That's why I contacted the daughter of the man who compiled the 1971-192 book, and it seemed she didn't think he knew who our ancestor's father was. I also contacted the archivist for the Steere Association, and he looked at the original work on the book, and couldn't find an indication that his predecessor knew the answer, it seemed he had ideas, but nothing else.

I heard there was a bible, but I haven't been able to get in contact with the family that has it, and from what the daughter indicated there was nothing in the bible that indicated who his parents were. :)

So I guess until I can get to RI to make a thorough search, I just have to wait and decide how much I want to know the answer. :)

Thanks, guys for letting me bounce my rhetorical questions off of you. :)
We have three different family name books that I have used repeatedly to springboard my own research. Our Merrill family comes from Nathanial Merrill of England to Massachusetts in the 1600's.. Our Black family comes from Ireland to Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Mississippi and then Arkansas. Our Gaffney family came from Ireland to New York, Virginia then South Carolina. We have books written with all three lines and sub-lines in them. We know they are not all accurate as one of them lists my brother as my mother's first husband. The researchers sends out forms, the family is to fill it all in and send it back in a timely manner, then the researcher publishes it along with the other info gathered. Along the way typos and other things do happen. While they are never totally accurate as the family members may be using their own memory to fill in the blanks and not going to the birth certificates and so forth to fill in the forms. The last book, the one on Michael Gaffney, we had many emails back and forth with the compiler getting the facts corrected and the lines straight. The bottom line for me is to use the information to either confirm what I already have or to use it to search for more clues to complete my own research. I have found errors, that is true, but by and large for the most part they have confirmed what I have already done. I am so grateful for those brave souls who spent the years it takes to compile these works for those of us who are able to use them.
You lucky dogs. I have yet to find any relative mentioned in any genealogy book. Maybe I will have to write one!
I have a book Stricklers of Pennsylvania which lists how my sister and I are descended from one Conrad Strickler, born Feb 10, 1783, d. Sep 17, 1854. I don't know how they got Conrad's information, or why they stopped at his birth. The book was published by the Strickler Family Association about the time of Pearl Harbor. I have always known there were errors, because my own birthdate is wrong, as is my father's; and my mother's name is misspelled. There are no citations in the book. I believe the information on Conrad's descendants came from questionnaires as others have mentioned. By the way, our bunch of Stricklers were not known to be connected to other Pennsylvania Stricklers at the time the book was published.

In spite of the known flaws, I have used this book to rough out my family tree for my father's paternal parentage. All of these entries are flagged as either "No research" or "Research in progress" so that no one looking at my records will mistake these entries as subjected to any sort of proof — let alone GPS! I'm just glad to have gotten a headstart on family connections.

This is especially true of the 1870 census of my great grandfather's household in Chester Township, Wabash County, Indiana. The enumerator wrote the surname so badly that ANYONE would read it as Suckler; there are no first names (only Suckler, J.; Suckler, C; and so on); and to top it off, the enumerator wrote the "W: for white so badly that the Indexer read it as "M" for mulatto.! The enumerator also misspelled a connected family surname (Ebenhaus for Ebbinghaus) but spelled Strickler correctly a few lines below, for a different branch of our family. Without the Stricklers of Pennsylvania I would have never found this census. The initials match the family names from head of househould through youngest child, and the dates are all in order according to the book and mostly match those in the book.

Still much verification needed for this family in this place and time, but the book and census match well enough for me to feel that I have a handle on the situation.

Sue

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