Thursday, January 31, 2008

Indiana identities in NGSQ

We're used to reading technical articles about ferreting out who's who in colonial New England. The new (December) issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (available in many libraries, but on-line only to members) brings an eastern Indiana detective story of the same kind by Dawne Slater-Putt, M.L.S., CG, of Huntertown.

It starts with two Fayette County, Indiana, census records, and the kind of conclusion we're all tempted to jump to.

1850: Eleanor Nash, age 16, in the Fayette County, Indiana, household of Richard and Margaret.
1860: Eleanor Saxon, age 27, in the same household with three Saxon children.

Eleanor must've married a Saxon and been widowed, right? Well, Fayette County records show no such marriage, and they do show Eleanor Nash marrying a Joseph Turner in 1857. Uh-oh.

This is the point where most amateurs throw up their hands and look for another line to study. Slater-Putt is a pro, and she finds the answer after "research on extended Nash and Saxon families in several counties in two states and careful evidence analysis," laid out in nine closely reasoned pages of text. No spoilers here, and yes, it's technical, but it's exactly what we need in order to make sure we're telling stories about the right ancestors.

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