28 August 2010

Misspelled Names

Yesterday I blogged about a conversation I overheard at the Oklahoma History Center by a man who refused to listen to any suggestions or advice about the man he was researching.

Well, today I was checking for some Civil War veterans buried in Rose Hill Cemetery at Chickasha, Grady Co. OK. A Joseph P. Gross was listed as a CSA vet. His dates were listed as 1 Feb 1834-5 Feb 1994. Now there is now way this could correct. So I checked the 1910 census, but was unable to find him. His wife died in 1903, so I decided to check the 1900 census. Again no luck. I tried several combinations of names and dates, but still no luck.

Then it dawned on me! I checked the 1900 census again, but this time typed in Cross as the last name. There he was with wife Martha and two daughters and a grandchild. Then I checked my database of Civil War veterans buried in Oklahoma. NO Joseph Gross, but a hit on Joseph Cross.

This is the problem with cemetery listings. You have to rely on another person's ability to read different fonts and scripts correctly. I should have realied right of the C vs. G issue. But I, like the researcher at the Oklahoma History Center, failed to consider the obvious. Glad I finally did!

So in my Oklahoma Death Index to 1920 database, I have two entries each for Martha and Joseph. And each entry states that the cemetery list has the surname as Gross, whereas the 1900 census has it as Cross.

27 August 2010

NEW TOTAL: 164,420 Entries

August has been a GREAT month so far. The database is up to 164,420 entries. I pick a county to work on at home, a county to work on at work (before and during lunch), and a source to work on on Saturday mornings before picking my daughter up from school at OSSM.

I have been fairly diligent, but I also have responsibilities as a member of the graves registration committee for the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. I add entries for Oklahoma. I also verify entries submitted to the database before they are entered in the database. Add to that yard work, house work, family life, etc. and it is amazing, at least to me, that over 10,000 entries were added in 3 weeks!

My goal for the year was to reach 150,000. Hmmmm...maybe I should revise my goal. I can just hear Leroy Jethro Gibbs saying "....Ya think!" (and then slapping me on the back of the head).

Verifying Sources of Information

I was at the Oklahoma History Center this afternoon entering info into my Oklahoma Death Index to 1920. It must be the teacher in me, but I always seem to hear or register the conversations that go on around me. I overheard a man mention to one of the workers that he was looking for a man name Alonzo Drew. For some reason that sounded familiar. He then stated something about Logan County.

So I went up and "peeked" at the document they were discussing- the 1910 census of South Cimarron Twp., Logan County OK. On it were Alonzo Drew, his wife Maude and two children including a son Roy. I then went back to my computer and clicked on the A-E section of my database. Lo and Behold, there was Allonzo Drew (note spelling of given name) born 1874 and died 16 Apr 1911. I went up to the researcher and asked him if he new the man he was looking for was buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Logan County. He proceeded to hem and haw about two Pleasant Hill Cemeteries, one north of Meridian being overgrown and unable to find the stone.

I then went back to my computer to check my source of information (I type in the source for EVERY entry)- it was the tombstone. I had visited the cemetery in the early 1980s during my big time "cemeterying" years. He came over to me and showed me the death certificate (he hadn't told us he had one) for J.A. Smith born 1851 who died in Logan County on 15 Apr 1911. The man buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery couldn't possibly be his ancestor! I pointed out that the tombstone had the birth year as 1874, the same as the 1910 census. But the informant for the death certificate was the wife! So the man in Pleasant Hill Cemetery couldn't be the man he was looking for.

I pointed out that the man in question most likely would not have given the information for the tombstone or the death certificate. He had it in his mind that 1851 was the correct birth year, despite preponderance of evidence. He then stated he had seen the tombstone....from a picture on-line.

The point of all this: consider ALL the evidence available. Keep looking for more. Trust, to a certain extent, the experts from the area. DON"T assume family tradition is correct- it rarely is (in entirety).

The researcher left the library disappointed with his experience. If only he would have considered the possibilities. Differences in name usage (Alonzo, Joseph, J.A.), differences in death day (15 or 16), differences in birth year (1851 or 1874); and differences in sources (death certificate from 1911; 1910 census, tombstone inscription).

What would you have done? Which source(s) do you think are most reliable? What further avenues does the research (presented above) bring to mind? What strategies could you use to track down Joseph Alonzo Smith on the 1900 census?

Good luck with your OWN research. Just remember, keep your mind open to different possibilities!