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AfriGeneas Genealogy and History Forum

Verifying Sources

Vetting the “path of least resistance”. Mary born 1868 in Louisiana; please give me back my Mary so she can rest in peace in Sweethome, Arkansas!

I was updating my tree on ancestry and I received a hint to another tree which had information on my 2nd great grandmother’s sister, Mary “Itha” Reed and parents Elijah and Amanda Reed. The person had my Mary Reed married to a man named William Melton and they settled in Dallas County, TX where they are enumerated on the 1900 through 1920 censuses.

When I verified the information, I found “A” Mary was married to a William Melton and they were both from Louisiana; her birth year was circa 1868, same as my Mary. I also found William Melton enumerated in 1880 with his mother and siblings in De Soto Parish, LA.

I explained that my Mary (along with some of her siblings) also went by their nicknames. I provided census citations for the 1900-1930 censuses for Arkansas showing my Mary “Itha” first enumerated with her husband William Miller and children; then as a widow Itha Miller and her children and in some cases grandchildren. For the record, the only time my Mary was enumerated under the name Mary was in 1870 and 1880—after that, all public documents list her as Itha or Ithey.

I also offered information on the oral histories I gathered from Marty Itha’s grandson and great grand daughter and numerous nieces and nephews (to include my mom) that her name was Mary Itha Reed and she married William Miller and she lived in two states—her formative years in Claiborne Parish, LA and her adult life in Arkansas.

This person still did not accept the factual information I had. This is a constant reminder to vet all resources and just because it looks as though it should fit----there maybe times when it “doesn’t fit”. Also there was additional census information where it could be inferred that Mary Melton had a sister named Matilda—my Mary Itha Reed didn’t have a sister named Matilda. This person could not offer proof as to the maiden name of Mary Melton.

Sometimes, I miss the good old days of going to the archive or library and viewing "microfilm" page by page; going to courthouses or interviewing relatives to capture bits and pieces of the oral tradition. Ancestry has in some ways, hindered our research methodology. It is a good tool but it must be used properly.

Thanks afrigeneas for allowing me to vent.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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