Sunday, July 20, 2014

Methodology Sunday with NGSQ: A Boren Family in Pittsburgh

Samuel W. Boren's 1898 Pittsburgh death certificate said that he was 69 and that his parents were both named Boren. Ten years later his grandson wrote down a more informative, brief, and entirely unsourced profile of Samuel's birth family. In the June issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, I treated it as a hypothesis and managed to confirm it, relying on indirect evidence and evidence from better-documented siblings.

Key records were censuses, city directories, Methodist newspapers and records, tax lists, property records, and vital records (in a state other than Pennsylvania). Key tools included establishing a migration chronology (mostly in and around Pittsburgh), creating tables to condense and correlate multiple pieces of evidence, and establishing connections between Samuel, each of his two brothers, and their sisters.

Of course, the conclusion that Samuel's parents were John Boren and Elizabeth Moore just sets up two more tricky parentage problems in early 19th-century "Dark Age" western Pennsylvania genealogy.

Like many articles, this one has had multiple incarnations. It is the more finished version of a case presented to half of the January 2014 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Advanced Evidence Practicum. And it will be one of several proof arguments to be dissected in the January 2015 SLIG course "From Confusion to Conclusion." Samuel was or is my great-great-great grandfather-in-law.

Harold Henderson, "Testing Family Lore to Determine the Parentage of Samuel W. Boren of Pittsburgh," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 102 (June 2014): 97-110.

Harold Henderson, "Methodology Sunday with NGSQ: A Boren Family in Pittsburgh," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 20 July 2014 ( : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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