Monday, October 19, 2009

Methodology Monday with Jonathan Turner's widow

This month's feature for the Transitional Genealogists article study group is Rachal Mills Lennon's 2004 National Genealogical Society Quarterly article, "The Wives of Jonathan Turner: Identification of Women in Pre-Twentieth-Century South Carolina." Don't turn the page because you don't have SC ancestors. The message is for all researchers everywhere: when the going gets tough, the tough research families, not individuals.

Lennon describes "a task many researchers fail to undertake: investigating the widow to find out if she can supply additional information about her husband. ... if a propertyless widow 'disappears' from the census or if evidence suggests she was not the mother of the child on whom a researcher is working, the genealogist may be tempted to drop that widow from the research plan."

As they say in the horror movies, "Don't do it!" In Lennon's case study, she found: "In 1894, fourteen years after her last census appearance, the seventy-seven-year-old Preshey applied for a widow's pension, identifying her late husband, Jonathan, as a veteran of the 'Florida War,'" and identifying Turner's preceding wife and the mother of three of his children. There's more -- join the National Genealogical Society and read it all in PDF format on line: NGSQ 92:245-255.

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