Vital records contain key pieces of information, it's just a matter of finding them. It's easy to get excited and confident when you find a new record for an ancestor, but it's so important to check out all the details before inducting new records as fact. But even after everything checks out what to do when you find a new record completely blowing your theory??
My recent experience with conflicting and confusing information
I had been going crazy researching my Wright line when I stumbled upon an ancestry.com! connection. A "family tree match" inspired me to take a chance and reach out to the tree owner. A few emails later we found out that we shared a gggg grandfather, Joel Wright! These connections are priceless, you never know what information is out there and it's really great to have someone to share your excitement and frustration. Sue and I have made amazing progress with our research and I really don't think I would have gotten so far without her help and dedication. We are roadblocked at this gggg grandfather but continue to research the entire family for clues.
After finding my gg grandparent's unmarked plot in Philadelphia, the facts from cemetery records checked out 100%, I had no reason to research for anymore details. Despite the missing grave marker I was confident my gg grandmother Mary Wright was buried in the Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery in Philadelphia. Sue was searching the Bordentown Register and found an obituary notice for a Mary Wright matching my Mary, but it said she was buried in Bordentown Cemetery!?
- The Friends of Greenwood Cemetery records show that Mary Wright was buried 1/17/1889, cause of death- consumption, and a note "The Internment Book has burial date of 7/15/1889". She is listed in a plot with her husband John and other matching family members.
- Philadelphia death certificate found on familysearch for Mary Wright, date of death 7/11/1889, 44 years old, cause of death Cholera, and buried 7/15/1889.
- The Bordentown Register of NJ (where John Wright's family originated) printed "In Philadelphia on July 11, 1889 Mary M. Wright, wife of Mr. John Wright, died. Interment was in Bordentown Cemetery".
How in 1889 would a New Jersey newspaper learn of a death in Philadelphia? In most cases a family member would have provided the information and staying in touch wasn't so easy back then. I think this was just a mistake and I believe Mary is buried in Philadelphia with her family. I am setting the record straight!
Conflicting information can lead you to question your research, but there comes a point for personal judgment calls. How important is it for me to know the exact date of death or burial? Would one disease be better than another? You have to consider your goals and use the information you have to navigate through the records. Doing thorough research is key and it can definitely help to have someone out there to help keep you going and focused, thanks Sue!!
Please share your own stories, it helps keep us on our toes!