13 February 2013

Do Four Days Matter?

Cornelia M. Albers made out an affidavit on 17 December 1883 where she stated she was over 21 years of age and a citizen of the United States. It would be reasonable to conclude that she was born before 17 December 1864. Or would it?

Homestead application of Cornelia Albers for property in Dawson County, Nebraska, 17 December 1883; digital image made from original cancelled file at the US National Archives. 
The genealogist should transcribe the document exactly as it is written and infer details as if the document is correct.

Turns out she was wrong about her age on the document. Also turns out she knew she was wrong. The statement on this claim makes the point that it's always to our advantage to transcribe things as they are written and cite every date of birth or estimate thereof as accurately as possible. It is also important to remember that any one document can be incorrect.

Apparently a neighbor knew Cornelia was four days short of her 21st birthday when she made her claim, and hence was not of age.

And apparently he wanted her claim.

Any legal technicalities get your ancestor in hot water?

We will have a complete analysis of this cancelled claim in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues. We'll also post a few little snippets from time to time on this blog.

Cancelled homestead claims are a wonderful source.