Monday, December 1, 2014

Methodology Monday with the genealogy of mislabeled records

Somehow, somewhere in the depths of the 19th Century U.S. Department of War, a unit of Revolutionary War soldiers got moved from Virginia to Connecticut. Probably it happened when the Compiled Military Service Record cards for George Markham's Revolutionary War company were created from a single 1781 original muster roll. It took a massive systematic effort by Craig Roberts Scott, in the current (September) National Genealogical Society Quarterly, to prove that they should be moved back.

The muster roll itself had "Virginia" written on its side, and no original source places them in New England. Scott first found that Markham himself was closely tied to Chesterfield County, Virginia, both before and after 1781. Then he correlated dozens of the individual officers and soldiers in the unit to same-name men on record in that county. One at a time.

A groundbreaking (or rather, ground-restoring) project of this kind doesn't have to be fancy, but it does have to be thorough and systematic. This one also reminds us to pay close attention when a derivative record makes a claim that cannot be confirmed in the original. That's like a sign saying, "DIG HERE."

Craig Roberts Scott, "Captain George Markham's Military Company: Virginia not Connecticut," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 102 (September 2014): 201-30.

Harold Henderson, "Methodology Monday with the genealogy of mislabeled records," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 1 December 2014 ( : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

1 comment:

IsraelP said...

This is good, but nonetheless, I would hope that once they are moved, the Virginia records would have a card (or whatever medium they use) saying "Such and such records that used to be here have been moved t o their proper place in Connecticut."