Friday, May 31, 2013

Rebuilding the Jaynes family with no direct evidence

Those hoping to qualify for Certified Genealogist status from the Board for the Certification of Genealogists can submit a proof argument that involves conflicting evidence, OR a proof argument that involves only indirect evidence. If you're contemplating the latter route, Mara Fein's article in the March 2013 National Genealogical Society Quarterly provides a nifty example. The keystone is an 1851 Washington County, Ohio, deed -- but in order to make the case Fein had to amass many hints in a variety of records (never an explicit statement) that the five grantors and the grantee were siblings, children of Henry and Catherine Jaynes. (One piece of evidence: the grantee paid $1 for the land.)

As someone who went through the portfolio process twice, I'm not fond of this particular route to certification, because it puts the applicant in a Catch-22: if she should find that the family can be proved with direct evidence, then she's back to square one. For an article, however, that drawback does not apply. Fein's article is also noteworthy in that there are almost no pieces of contrary evidence.

To put it another way, this article is almost the perfect opposite to the idea most of us brought to genealogy as beginners -- that the only way to prove a relationship is to find a records that SAYS what the relationship was. Fein made her case without any such records.

Midwestern researchers will note that the case spreads from Wood County, (West) Virginia, to Washington County, Ohio (right across the Ohio River); Jefferson, Daviess, and Knox counties, Indiana; and Linn County, Missouri. These counties trace what sure looks like a river-based migration path, but it's the aggregate power and logic of painstakingly gathered indirect evidence that carries all before it in this article.

Mara Fein, "Who Was the Father of Henry Norton Jaynes of Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Virginia?," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 101 (March 2013): 35-47.

Harold Henderson, "Rebuilding the Jaynes family with no direct evidence," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 31 May 2013 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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