Anyone who has been doing genealogical research will eventually run into ‘same name’ issues, where two people of the same name are found in the same vicinity or same records. With my Crawford research, my same name struggle has been with my ancestor, James Crawford (1772-1854).
James is a common given name in Crawford research and my James seems to be surrounded by other James Crawfords during his adult life. Even though most of the time, I’ve been able to separate out the various families, I haven’t been able to find siblings or parents for my James Crawford.
However, I have encountered a lot of what I’m going to call ‘latchkey’ trees. With pre-1800 Crawford research in Virginia and surrounding areas, it is fairly easy to find published family histories for various Crawford lines. This would include David Crawford, Col. William Crawford and brothers, Alexander and Patrick Crawford. Since given names like James, John and Mary are found in many Crawford families, it is tempting to take a proven ancestor named James, John or Mary Crawford and ‘latch’ onto one of these families to identify parents of our ancestor.
With my Crawford research centered in Kentucky and Virginia, I encounter a lot of trees for these early Kentucky Crawford families connecting to Alexander Crawford and his wife Mary McPheeters or to Alexander’s brother Patrick. Some of these trees match the information in the well documented book, Descendants of Alexander and Mary McPheeters Crawford by Amanda Forbes. Unfortunately, many trees lead back to Alexander and Mary McPheeters Crawford when the documents for the child in the tree contradicts known documentation for the family of Alexander Crawford.
Unfortunately, these ‘latchkey’ trees create problems for everyone researching their Crawford line.
- They lead other Crawford researchers down an incorrect path
- They complicate the interpretation of DNA results
With autosomal DNA and features like ThruLines, an incorrect ancestor in my tree can lead all of my DNA matches down a wrong path.
Not only is this an issue with autosomal DNA but with yDNA research. In the Crawford DNA project, there were several tests with Alexander Crawford identified as the paternal ancestor. One of those is a fairly close match to my brother’s yDNA indicating that our lines might connect at some time in the past. However, there were other tests identifying Alexander Crawford as the paternal ancestor that are not related to my Crawford line. Based on information from an administrator of the Crawford project, these yDNA tests were significantly different and could not all have descended from Alexander Crawford.
So, I’m asking for all Crawford researchers to help get this right. Let’s work together to document our Crawford lineage to make sure our trees are well documented — including parent-child links. Let’s
- Search out wills, probate records and court records that identify family connections
- Search out deeds that not only document residency but can also show movement from place to place or identify family members
- Utilize collaborative trees such as FamilySearch or WikiTree to connect with other researchers
- Share our findings and the supporting documents on these collaborative trees or in public trees on genealogy sites
Please join me with this effort — and if your Crawford research takes you to Garrard, Madison or Lincoln counties in Kentucky prior to 1800, please contact me — I might be able to help you.