Research, Research, Research
- From another list . . . kemis
Saw a reference to the following article in Dick Eastman's newsletter,
I just had to share it, as "undocumented evidence" is one of my
genealogy pet peeves. LOL!
And as one of Mr. Eastman's readers commented, the warning also
applies to trees at Ancestry.com, and other family tree hosting sites.
Mormon Web site handy, but be sure to examine details
By SHARON TATE MOODY
Published: April 11, 2010
One of the greatest gifts to the genealogical world comes from the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which microfilmed thousands of
local and state records it loans out to research centers around the world.
Other tools available from the church Web site, www.familysearch.org,
are worth using, but researchers must approach with caution and closely
scrutinize what they find.
From the home page, select "Search Records" in the menu bar. From the
pull-down menu, select "Advanced Search." This reveals a data request form.
Filling all the blanks will result in a narrow search. Entering just first
and last names will return more possibilities. My test name for these
records is "Margaret Stalcup."
Most search results will be appear under three different headings:
Ancestral File, International Genealogical Index and Pedigree Resource File.
Under Ancestral File, the first hit tells me that Margaret was born
March 19, 1843, in Macon County, N.C., and that she died Nov. 11, 1922, in
Gainesville, Ga., where she is buried. Her parents are listed as William
Stalcup and Evalina Killian, and her husband (whom she married on Oct. 7,
1860, in Fort Hembree, N.C.) was Alfred James.
These details lead to questions
What exciting information! But is any of it true? Where did that
information come from?
Be sure to read everything on the page to answer those questions. In
doing that, I learned the Ancestral Files are collections of information
from pedigree charts and family group sheets submitted to the church since
1978. And I found this important disclaimer: "The information has not been
verified against any official records."
That line strongly directs the next step a researcher must take. In
Margaret's case, the Ancestral File points to two locations for further
research: Macon County, N.C., in the mid-1800s to seek records on William
and Evalina Killian Stalcup; and early 20th-century Hall County, Ga., for
records of Alfred and Margaret Stalcup James.
Users know the International Genealogical Index as the IGI. Under this
section, the evidence indicates there was more than one Margaret Stalcup in
the same North Carolina area.
One record shows Margaret as the daughter of William H. Stalcup and
Evalina Killian, but it says she was born in March 1843 in Lincoln County,
N.C. Now I have conflicting information about her birthplace. I cannot
simply close my eyes and choose one through eeny-meeny-miney-mo. Instead, my
research now expands to Lincoln County to see if I find William and Evalina
there in 1843, rather than in Macon County.
It's time to find the source
To help in my evaluation of this information I must know its source.
The IGI says simply, "Record submitted after 1991 by a member of the LDS
Church. No additional information is available." With such a vague source, I
know I cannot accept the finding as "fact."
The next category is the Pedigree Resource File. It's important to
remember anyone can contribute this material, with or without confirming it.
The files also do not include the contributor's sources, so I must use the
information, once again, as a tool.
This section sometimes lists the name and address of the person who
submitted the information. That presents another avenue of research - an
opportunity to ask the person where he got his information.
I didn't find a pedigree chart submission for my Margaret. By
expanding my research I did find one for her purported father, William H.
Stalcup, and I found a contributor's name and address.
I went to whitepages.com and entered his name to confirm he still
lives at the same address. Rather than call and catch him off-guard, I'll
send him an old-fashioned postal letter. I'm especially intrigued that he
listed Margaret's father as William Harve Stalcup. Wonder how he knew the
middle name? He also listed William's father as William "Billy" Stalcup.
Sounds like he has access to original family records, and I can hardly wait
to hear back from him.
The church Web site offers free online classes and its free Family
History Lesson Series in printable PDF files. Researchers will also find the
"Help" button on the menu bar is filled with useful information. Take time
and explore it.
Sharon Tate Moody is a board-certified genealogist. Send your
genealogy questions and event announcements to her in care of Getaway, The
Tampa Tribune, 200 S. Parker St., Tampa, FL 33606 or stmoody0720@mac
.com. She regrets that she is unable to assist with personal research
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