16 November 2014

That Place of Birth is How Specific?

[this is more of a commentary than an actual post]

The devil usually is in the details.

How precise is the location of that event?

The death certificate of my ancestor indicates that he died in Limestone Township, Peoria County, Illinois. He was actually at the Illinois State Hospital in Bartonville, Illinois, at the time of his death. If I use the death certificate as my source for his date and place of death, I should indicate that he died on the date and place given on that death certificate. The death certificate does not use Bartonville when referencing his death and I should not indicate that a record provides information that it does not.

Locations are more of a problem when there are no sources providing primary information about an event. Numerous references indicate that Riley Rampley was born in 1835 in Coshocton County, Ohio. No source provides any location more precise than that and it is doubtful that I ever find one. I may surmise that Riley was born in Jackson Township as that is where his parents owned real estate at the time he was born.

But that land ownership doesn't necessarily mean Riley was born there. His mother could have travelled to an adjacent township to stay with another family member as the birth approached. I have no evidence to indicate that. It's also remotely possible that while the Rampley family owned property in Jackson Township that they didn't live there. However since I have no evidence to indicate that they lived elsewhere, I'm concluding that they did live in Jackson Township where their property was located.

Should I indicate that Riley was probably born in Jackson Township, Coshocton County, Ohio in 1835? At this point, I'm not. I'm content saying that his parents owned property there (something which can be documented) and most likely lived there (something I'm surmising). Knowing Riley's precise place of birth would be nice, but it's not crucial to my research at this point to be more specific. Nothing about Riley's life or parentage hinges on knowing the place more specifically than Coshocton County.

The potential problem with saying that he was "probably born in Jackson Township, Coshocton County, Ohio," is that it is often easy for the "probably" to get dropped. If the knowledge of a more precise of birth was necessary for other research reasons I'd be tempted to include it.

But for now, it's sufficient to know that his parents were probably living in Jackson Township when he was born.