29 August 2012

What's In a Name?

     I once heard a quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson:

"I won't trust a man who can't spell his name at least three different ways."

     I guess that kind of sums up most of the problems in genealogy and not being able to find our ancestors. I hear so many people claim that their family was "missed" on the census. I guess they never head this quote!

     In going through the Dawes Rolls Creek packets, I came across an interesting transcript. One of the "chiefs" of a village gave an explanation, under oath, of how names were dealt with. Children were given their father's name if they lived in the father's village and mother's name if in her village. To complicate things more, there were separate rules if the husband or wife was Cherokee living in the Creek nation or vice/versa.

     The most interesting statement I read was the "chief's" identification of a child's father. He gave the father's name he was known by. And then he also gave the dad's Creek name. AND he went on to identify the man's Warrior name. So each Creek male had a "White" name, a "Creek" name, and a "Warrior" name. A genealogist unaware of this naming system is doomed!

     Perhaps the Creeks took Thomas Jefferson's supposed quote too seriously :)

26 August 2012

Duplication of Records???...So What!!!

     My purpose for the Pre-1920 Oklahoma Death Index database is to accumulate as many references to pre-1920 Oklahoma deaths as I can find. I have been chastised for having duplicate entries, for wasting my time, etc. One person thought it was "stupid" to extract information from a published cemetery book and then go walk the cemetery, including deaths from both sources, most being duplicates. What that person doesn't realize is that although many of the entries are duplicates, many entries have slightly different name spellings or death dates. Often I see new stones for previously unmarked graves and the published book has old stones that have disappeared or become unreadable over time. In Tyner's "Our People and Where They Rest" 12 volume set, most entries have only birth and death year. A reading of the actual tombstone will often add month and day to those years.

     To illustrate what I see as the great value to my database, here are two entries. One entry was added last year from a findagrave.com. The other is from a newspaper article extract:

Hughes, George Vaughan  32 years  buried Coalgate Cemetery (no death date on old stone)

Hughes, George V.  died Saturday at Weston TX. Buried Coalgate Cemetery  [from the Wayne OK Gazette 26 Nov 1909 p1 c6]

     Neither source provides the same information. from the tombstone we have an age with no reference point since there is no death date or death year. From the death notice, we have a death date (I would need to look up the paper and see the publication date to determine the death day), death location and burial location. Combine the two and we now have a good idea of the life span of George V. Hughes and a better idea of what records would available on him and which ones to search.

     With my alphabetical death index, I can easily find and match multiple references for one individual. The more sources, the more information and better the information is substantiated.