11 April 2014

It's About Them...Not About Me

Search Results for Nan* Ramp* in the 1920 US Census at Ancestry.com. Search performed 11 April 2014. Can there be two Nancy Rampleys living in the same rural Illinois township in 1920?
Some will bemoan the fact that people don't cite their sources, research too quickly, and give nary a thought as to accurate and sound methodology. I understand that, but I also understand that many people just don't want to read lengthy diatribes extolling why those things are important.

I firmly believe in those concepts and I don't want to read those diatribes either.

Two quick examples in my own research indicate why it's important to take our time and think as we research. Our ancestors did things on purpose to confuse us. Many times that confusion centers around names.
  • Hancock County, Illinois brothers Riley Rampley (1835-1893) and James Rampley (1844-1913) married first cousins who were both named Nancy Newman. Of course both men served in the Civil War and both their widows received pensions. This was done just to confuse the pension department. It is fun to confuse the government.
  • Scott County, Iowa, first cousins George A. Freund (1858-1928) and George K. Freund (1854-1941) married women named Katharine Cawiezell and Catherine Schilling, respectively. Can you imagine how easy it is to get those two couples confused? After all, they were both George and "Catherine" Freund....and we know that first names can be spelled incorrectly.
I have more, but this makes the point.

And the confusion is even worse in frontier families where there are fewer records one can use to distinguish them. The two examples shown above, while confusing, are relatively easy to sort out--if one takes the time to be concerned about that.

My grandfather John H. Ufkes (1917-2003) had a first cousin John G. Ufkes and another first cousin John H. Ufkes. You don't even want to know how many John H. Ufkeses there have been since the immigrant John H. Ufkes died in Illinois in 1924.

It's About Them...Not About Me

Doesn't their information deserve to be recorded accurately? From what I know, Nancy (Newman) Rampley and Nancy (Newman) Rampley were confused with each other enough when they were alive--enough so that one spelled her name "Nancie" upon occasion. Now that they're dead, don't we owe it to them to record their information as correctly as we can.?

That's why we cite our sources and strive to use sound methodology. It's not so that I can say my research is better than anyone elses or that my research is "perfect." Because it's not.

It's so that I can keep Nancy (Newman) Rampley separate from Nancy (Newman ) Rampley and Catherine (Schilling) Freund separate from Katherine (Cawiezell) Freund and the myriad of John Ufkeses separate from each other.

It's about them....not about me.