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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Making Assumptions

Julia Harvey Glynn with her daughter Caroline

My great-grandmother, Mary Lucy Glynn, wife of Charles A. Giddens, was the daughter of Joseph Albert Glynn ("Albert") and Julia Harvey.  Joseph Albert Glynn was well documented in Putney, Vermont, but Julia Harvey appeared to have no past before her marriage to Albert.  I made the following assumptions about Julia Harvey:
  • I assumed that Julia married Albert in Vermont before relocating to NYC where she is found on the 1870 census. 
  • I assumed that she might be the 15 year old Julia M. Harvey that lived in Washington, Vermont with a glove manufacturer in the 1850 census.
  • I assumed that Julia may have come from Ireland alone as family didn't appear present. 
In genealogy, it's okay to make assumptions, but it's not okay to turn these assumptions into facts. In the "genealogy world," I have seen many assumptions such as maiden names, birth and death locations, and even parents of ancestors turned into facts.  

I have made this mistake several times and one was pointed out to me this week.  On my website, posted in about 2003, I listed an ancestor's death place as Erath County, Texas. She married in Erath County, her husband had a business in Erath County, and she is buried in Erath County so I ASSUMED that she died in Erath County and that is what I put in my family tree and on my website. However, she died in Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas. 

So, before you add those facts to your database, your tree at Ancestry, or your website, think about that fact - How do you know this? Do you have a source? If not, leave it blank and look a little harder or wait – it may come to you.

Now back to Julia Harvey. I left her marriage date and place blank in my database years ago. I didn't pursue this fact, but it came to me yesterday as a "hint" while I was entering her husband, Albert Glynn, into my family tree at - Albert Glynn married Johanna Harvey in Walpole, Cheshire, New Hampshire on June 9, 1861. I started to question this, but saw that Albert's birthplace, age, and parents were listed accurately.   So now my first assumption was proved as incorrect and I am looking for Johanna Harvey, as well as Julia Harvey. 

FYI - my second assumption is also incorrect. Julia M. Harvey is not my Julia Harvey. In 1870, my Julia was now Julia Glynn, living in NYC while Julia M. Harvey continued to live in Washington, Vermont. 


© 2012

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