Is that the right name? Writing first proof argument

Even though I’ve been adding sources to events in my family tree for years, I hadn’t written a ‘proof’ argument until the last month. For my first proof argument, I decided to write out my reasoning behind my great-grandfather’s name: Washington Marion Crawford.

When I started researching my family, my grandmother was my primary source of information. Even though she married into the Crawford family, she knew a lot about the family. Besides the photo albums, grandma took me on a tour of the cemetery. Since I grew up knowing about what I considered to be  ‘the’ family plot, I was surprised when she showed me other plots containing my great-great grandparents. The Crawford plot for my great-great grandparents was where I first encountered the ‘mystery of the name’. The tall family stone showed my great-great grandfather as Marion Crawford. Even though my grandmother had not met him, she knew of him as Marion Crawford. Near the tall headstone was a military stone – with a different name: Wash N Crawford.

Thus started the quest to figure out his name. Over time, I collected a wide variety of records using different variations of his name. For my proof argument, I decided to look at those records again and see how each record recorded his name.

Sources using Marion Crawford

  • Obituary – Ford County Republican
  • 1850 Census – Warren County, Indiana – household of Nelson Crawford
  • 1880 Census — Warren County, Indiana
  • Family Tombstone

Sources using M Crawford

  • 1885 Kansas Census – Ford County, Kansas

Sources using Washington Crawford

  • 1860 Census – Warren County, Indiana

Sources using W. Marion Crawford

  • Obituary – Dodge City Times
  • Lewis Post No. 294 GAR – Resolution

Sources using Washington M. Crawford

  • Coroner’s Report
  • U.S. Records of Headstones of Deceased Union Veterans 1879-1903 (FamilySearch)
  • Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans 1879-1903 (Ancestry)
  • Certified copy of marriage license – Warren County, Indiana
  • Military and Pension file for Washington M. Crawford

Sources using Wash N Crawford

  • Footstone

Based on the fact that all of the legal documents (marriage license, military record, coroner’s report, etc.) use the name Washington M. Crawford, I have concluded that his first name is Washington. Based on the fact that an obituary and the resolution for the GAR post identify him as W. Marion Crawford, I have concluded his middle name is Marion. Thus, I believe his legal name was

Washington Marion Crawford

even though family often referred to him as Marion Crawford.


ancestryblogFor the past few months, I have been slowly whittling away at the green leaves on my Ancestry family tree – Heartland_Genealogy. When I look at the pedigree view, it looks pretty good since almost all of the leaves are gone.

I have to admit that the initial pedigree view is somewhat deceiving since expanding the pedigree on almost any branch will produce green leaves.

hintsThis morning, I made the mistake of looking at the ‘View People with Hints’ page and discovered that I have lots of work yet to do.

Yes, that is over FIFTEEN THOUSAND records to look at and see if they fit someone in my tree.


That’s a lot of records to look at!



Some might assume that I’m just a collector of names when they look at the summary for my tree. After all, I have over 9000 names and only a little over 1500 records.  However, those stats are deceiving!

Some in the genealogy community have stated that they don’t worry about the green leaves and continue following my previous research pattern. However, I have found these hints to actually be helpful since they


  • force me to review my data
  • allow me to update citations to current standards
  • allow me to download and attach the images
  • attach documentation to my Ancestry tree

rootsmagicFor years, I was using my computer program — Master Genealogist — to record the events and sources for those 9000 people. About 2 years ago, I switched to Roots Magic, continuing the process of recording events in the lives of my ancestors and their descendants and then documenting the source of the information.  My sources are not up to the standards of Evidence Explained. Nor do I have images attached to anything entered before 2014.

Even though my Ancestry data is daunting, my RootsMagic data provides a better picture of my status. I do try and cite the source of my data!

Getting these two trees in sync in one of my Christmas wishes since RootsMagic is working on the ability to sync with Ancestry.

websiteMy other Christmas wish is that I will be able to update my web site with my RootsMagic data. My website was created with SecondSite from my Master Genealogy data. John Cardinal, creator of SecondSite is working on replacement software that hopefully will be able to accomplish this task. I anxiously am waiting for an announcement that the new software, GedSite, has been released.

The numbers on Ancestry may look overwhelming, but knowing they will lead to new information and help me improve my current documentation, I will keep working to reduce that number.



Crawford Puzzle – One Piece at a Time

jigsaw-305576_1280My Crawford lineage has always been like putting together a jigsaw puzzle — trying to figure out how hundreds of pieces fit together. Many years ago, I wrote about dissecting these pieces in order to identify my line. At the time, I identified four James Crawford families that were in the same region of Kentucky prior to 1800.

  • Rev. James Crawford (1752-1803) who married Rebecca McPheeters
  • James Crawford who married Rebecca Anderson
  • James Crawford (1772-1854) who married Sally Duggins in 1799 in Garrard County, KY
  • James Crawford (1770-1833) who married Martha Knight in 1793 in Lincoln County, KY

I descend from Nelson G. Crawford (1808-1864) of Warren County, Indiana. Nelson is the son of James and Sally (Duggins) Crawford. James and Sally lived in Preble County, Ohio from about 1810 until their deaths after 1850. Besides Nelson, the household included a daughter, Polly, and Sarah’s two sons from her marriage to Alexander Duggins: Henry Duggins and William Duggins.

Also living in Preble County Ohio from about 1810 until the late 1820’s is the family of James and Martha Crawford. James and Martha, their children and Nelson G. Crawford migrate from Preble County Ohio to Warren County, Indiana where they purchase land in 1829.

The question has always been: how are these two James related?

DNA results may help with this puzzle. My brother’s yDNA test has shown a close relationship to a descendant of William N. Crawford. Unfortunately, the ancestry of William N. Crawford is currently unknown. I can’t place William N. Crawford as a descendant in my tree, nor can I place him as a descendant of James and Martha Crawford. However, recent Ancestry matches indicate a likely relationship to both men. The descendant of William N. Crawford share the following in a recent email:

maybe William N. was living with relatives. (in reference to 1850 census showing a William N. Crawford in household of William & Lutitia Crawford) [Ancestry – Year: 1850; Census Place: Pike, Warren, Indiana; Roll: M432_178; Page: 3B; Image: 319]
Ancestry DNA has:
  • One fourth cousin match to a descendant of James Crawford m. Martha Knight.
  • Two matches to descendants of James Crawford m. Sally Duggins/Smith, Marcia and another distant cousin.
  • Ancestry has also proposed his inclusion in a NAD circle with other descendants of Nathan Douglas Sellers (1797-1874).  Three of whom are fourth cousins.

Not only was this DNA suggesting a relationship to both Crawford lines, it was suggesting a link to the SELLERS family. The James/Martha line has several ties to the SELLERS family but the James/Sally line has no known ‘direct line’ ties. (Henry Duggins, step-son of James Crawford, married Jane Sellers.) My AncestryDNA results also suggest a SELLERS link. Thus, we are beginning to think the SELLERS family might show how these puzzle pieces fit together.

While going thru my Crawford notes and looking for more documentation on Ancestry, I discovered that several researchers had a completely different name (Jane Jean) for the mother of James (md to Martha). Since I could not find this name on any of the documents I had collected for Crawfords in Kentucky prior to 1800, I decided to check Family Search to see what the ‘tree’ indicated. There I found another Crawford researcher who had made a correction on the tree changing the name back to Rebecca. I contacted this researcher to see if he could shed some light on where this other name came from. I have received several lengthy emails from him regarding our shared research.

He believes the ‘Jane Jean’ came from combining two James Crawfords. His Crawford research, along with the tree on Family Research, indicate that John Crawford was married to Rebecca (not Jane Jean) and was the father of James (md to Martha). According to Family Search, John Crawford was a brother to the James who married Rebecca Anderson. Thus, two of my original James Crawford families can be pieced together as uncle (James md to Anderson) and nephew (James md to Knight).

The puzzle is coming together, but I still can’t connect my piece (James and Sally) into a Crawford line.

One Person or Two — Elizabeth Harding

Since I hadn’t worked Ancestry’s ‘shaky leaves’ until recently, they have provided a ‘golden opportunity’ for a go-over. I have done a lot of research for my tree and have sources cited in my database — much of it based on paper/microfilm research. Since following Ancestry’s hints to access the online records is quicker than searching for the same record, I’ve been using them to locate the  digital record, save the image and update my computer database.

This is a slow process and I’m not sure I’ll ever get done but I do appreciate the challenge — both of getting rid of a leaf and of checking my research for errors. Over the weekend, I switched to my Harding line. My 3rd great-grandfather, William G. Harding, settled in Black Hawk County, Iowa prior to 1860. The 1860 census contains lots of clues about the family:

  • came from New Brunswick (birthplaces of Harding children)
  • blended family (both Ponsford and Harding children in home)
  • wife is likely a 2nd wife (Ponsford children)
  • family was in Wisconsin around 1857 (birthplace of Hattie)


(Iowa. Black Hawk County. 1860 U.S. Census, population schedule. Digital image. : 2016.)

This census led me to New Brunswick where I found the Harding family living in Westfield Township, Kings County, New Brunswick. Noticeably absent from the 1851 census is his wife, Elizabeth and the Ponsford children.


(Canada. New Brunswick. Kings County. 1851 Canadian Census, canadian census. Digital image. : 2016.)

Based on these two census records, I concluded that William G. Harding was likely married twice. I associated the Elizabeth Harding listed in the 1860 census as the mother of Hattie Harding and the Ponsford children. However, based on the fact that she is missing from the 1851 census, I did not associate her as the mother of the other Harding children.

Thus, began my hunt for the mother of my ancestor, Julia Harding. In my search for William’s wife, I came across an extensive history of the Harding family in New Brusnwick by Mrs. Raymond Caron and Brenda Beryl (Harding) Caron. (Caron, Mrs. Raymond, author. Life and Times of George and William Harding: Newburgh, New York 767-1783 and Saint John, New Brunswick; vol. 2. Canada: n.p., n.d..)

According to this book, the New Brunswick branch of the Harding family was Loyalists during the revolutionary war. After the war, they migrated to New Brunswick. Since this 2 volume work includes descendants of these Loyalist families, I searched it for William and found that William was a family name. However, there were only a handful of Julia Hardings in the index — most of them dying as infants. The possible match to my Julia Harding was the daughter of William Gillies Harding and Elizabeth Fowler. Unfortunately, the book only identifies 2 children when there were 7 children in the 1851 census.

I was able to locate the marriage record on Family Search. William G. Harding and Elizabeth Fowler were married in Kings County, New Brunswick in 1830. Thus, Elizabeth Fowler could be the mother of the children in the 1851 census.


(New Brunswick Marriage Registers, 1789-1889. Provincial Archives, Fredericton. database with images. Family Search.

If that is the case, then she either died or left the family sometime between 1846 (birth of William Henry Harding) and the 1851 census. Since the census records (including those past 1860) consistently list either New Brunswick or Canada (Eng) as the birthplace of the children, it is likely that the family did not leave New Brunswick until sometime after the 1851 census.

Thus, I am working with the theory that William had TWO wives: Elizabeth Fowler and a second Elizabeth that he married sometime after 1851. Yesterday, I located the marriage record for his daughter, Hattie, who was born in Wisconsin. According to this record, her mother was Eliza HENDERSON.


(“Iowa, Select Marriages Index, 1758-1996.” : Sept. 2016.)

If only I could find a similar marriage record for one of the older Harding children identifying their mother!

Until someone provides documentation to disprove it, my current theory is that William G. Harding was married twice, with his first marriage occurring in New Brunswick and his second marriage occurring after 1851. So my quest continues:

  • Locate marriage record for William G. Harding and Eliza Henderson Ponsford
  • Locate records supporting or disproving Elizabeth Fowler as the mother of the Harding children
  • Locate marriage record for Eliza Henderson and ? Ponsford
  • Locate death information for Elizabeth Fowler Harding
  • Work to keep these two ladies from being merged


Elwood Cemetery – What is the evidence?

About a month ago, I discovered my great-great grandfather, Albert Hutchinson, listed on Find a Grave. Albert and his first wife, Julia Harding, have been one of the challenges in my search for the family history. I think I have Julia’s heritage figured out but Albert appears to ‘just hatch’ in Iowa. Both just seemed to disappear from this earth with little or no evidence of their passing. At least, until I found Albert on Find a Grave as being buried in the Elwood Cemetery.

But wait! Elwood is only 60 miles from me. Don’t you think I would have already found his grave? But does Elwood even have a cemetery?

Finding the Elwood Cemetery – OR – disproving its existence was a challenge to me. In the process of figuring out this puzzle, I realized that this task provided an excellent opportunity to apply this week’s ‘Finally Get Organized‘ task. This task involved looking at sources, information and evidence to be able to write a conclusion based on a preponderance of the evidence.

I started by conducting some ‘Internet’ research to see what else I could find on this cemetery.

  • Source: Find a GraveElwoodCem1
  • Information: Latitude: 39.76523, Longitude: -94.87605

Armed with the Find a Grave map, I then checked Google maps and clicked on the ‘Google Earth’ button, I was able to see a satellite view of the land.





Comparing the satellite view with the map from Find a Grave, there is a clump of trees in about the area indicated as a cemetery in Find a Grave. However, zooming in on the clump of trees, I did not find tombstones, but what appear to be boulders.


Doing some background research, I found a list of Doniphan County cemeteries from 1906. In 1906, the Kansas State Historical Society compiled a list of cemeteries in Doniphan County and published them in their Transactions of the Kansas State Horticultural Society, vol. XXVIII (1906), pp. 325-377. The Family Search wiki has an expanded list of cemeteries for Doniphan County based on this 1906 list. Neither list contains an Elwood Cemetery.

After discussing this with my husband, I elected to check Google Earth itself.

ElwoodCem4Source: Google Earth search for Elwood, Kansas and then zooming in

Note that the clump of trees (and boulders) shown in the satellite image on Google Maps is missing from the image on Google Earth.



Challenged by this mystery, my husband and I took a trip to the Elwood/St. Jo area to try and figure out if there was a cemetery in Elwood.

KS-Doniphan-CemeteriessmOur first stop was the Harman-Rohde Funeral Home in Wathena, Kansas. When asked about a cemetery in Elwood, Paul Rohde responded, ‘If there is, it’s not used any more.’ When asked about evidence of such a cemetery, he checked his files and produced a map of Doniphan County cemeteries. (pictured on right)

Lo and behold — #89 says Elwood and may be the number in the bend of the river. Not only is it listed, but there is a check mark by it that indicates it ‘still exists.’ This map was created by Francis Burbridge in 1984.

Even though the map indicates the cemetery still existed in 1984, Paul Rohde was not aware of any burials in that cemetery. When asked about where residents of Elwood are buried, he said they are either buried in Wathena or in St. Jo. Unfortunately, the funeral home records only go back into the 1930s. Thus, they won’t shed any light on whether Albert Hutchinson is buried at Elwood.

KS-Doniphan-Elwood-6th-looking-northOur next stop was the Elwood city office to see what we could find out about a cemetery at Elwood. When asked about a cemetery in Elwood, the city staff said that Elwood did not have a cemetery. She indicated that the town moved South to its current location around 1916. As we discussed the Find a Grave entry showing a cemetery on N. 6th street, the city staff remembered that at one time city workers used an area on N. 6th as a dump. When asked if the city had maintained any death records, she said that they did not have such records and that the courthouse in Troy would be the place to look for death records.

(6th street in Elwood, Kansas looking North.)



Since it had rained recently, we didn’t try to go down the dirt road. However, we couldn’t see any evidence of a cemetery between our location and the bluffs formed by the river.

(Right) View from 5th street looking Northwest towards the Missouri River.

Photos were taken on March 15, 2016

The Northwest Missouri Genealogical Society has a plat map of Buchanan County, Missouri hanging on the wall of their library (dated about 1939) that gives a good visual of where Elwood, Kansas is in relation to the Missouri River.



Knowing that Elwood lies in the flood plain of the Missouri River and that Elwood was under water during the 1993 flood, it makes me wonder whether a cemetery would have survived so close to the river.

So what is my conclusion? Even though I found information (a map) indicating that there was a cemetery North of Elwood, I don’t feel like I have evidence of such a cemetery. I also conducted interviews indicating that there isn’t a cemetery in Elwood. Since the map and the interviews are contradictory of each other and since I haven’t personally seen the cemetery nor found any photographs of it, I don’t believe there is enough evidence to support a conclusion either way.






Who Is Jenny Neal?

This weeks Finally Get Organized checklist deals with applying the Genealogical Proof Standard to four generations on my Crawford line. Basically this involves evaluating the quantity (reasonably exhaustive search) and quality of sources for these four generations. The second part of the task is to re-evaluate how those sources support the events in each life and whether a source or sources raises additional questions about that persons life.

Conducted a Reasonably Exhaustive Search? That should be easy, right? After all, I have  75 footnotes on my dad, over 90 on my granddad and 54 on my great-granddad. Shouldn’t that be enough?

Since I have participated in the Genealogy Do-Over,  I was reminded of the basic research skills that I used when I first started. Knowing that I hadn’t completed a ‘checklist’ on these men since the early days of my research, I elected to resurrect that skill and complete ‘checklists’. Low and behold, I discovered that I hadn’t found my great-grandfather in the 1925 Kansas Census after it became available. I had the 1930 and 1940 census records for him but not the 1925.

Some would argue that since he and his wife lived in the same town, same house for most of their lives getting the 1925 census wouldn’t be necessary especially since I had the 1920 and 1930 records. However, reasonably exhaustive search (and my previous experience) says that every source is an important source and that the 1925 census might shed additional light on the family.

So, I set off on my trek to find the 1925 census records. In the early days of my genealogical research, this would have meant a trip to Topeka to view the microfilm. However, most of the Kansas census is now available on Ancestry, including the 1925 records. So it was off to Ancestry for a quick search to locate the record and then record the info in my database.


Not only did I find Judson Crawford exactly where I expected (504 Avenue G in Dodge City), but I found the younger children still at home. But WAIT! Who is this Jenny Neal, a twelve year old female born in Kansas? Since NEAL sounded like a surname I had data on, it was off to RootsMagic to try and figure out who this young lady might be.

I did find some NEALs in my data but from over 100 years earlier. Could she be descended from them? It’s possible since a lot of the family migrated to Dodge City. Could she be related to Judson’s wife, Josie. That’s another possibility but I don’t have anything to indicate that relationship. Could Jenny’s father be a deceased railroad worker that the Crawford family took in? That’s another possibility since Judson worked for the railroad and was an active member of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen.

So, the next step is to try and learn more about Jenny Neal so I can answer the question:

Who is Jenny Neal?


Impact of Social Media

Today, I go to remember a co-worker, Dennis Hermreck, who succumbed to cancer over Christmas vacation. Dennis was a teacher at Nemaha Central High School (formerly Nemaha Valley). Even though he has always taught in a small school, Dennis has had a huge impact on a lot of lives. This became very evident on social media this week as students and former students shared their thoughts about Dennis.

As a co-worker, each and every one of these posts brought tears. However, as a genealogist, these posts tell Dennis’ story is a way that no other documentation can. Facebook, twitter and blogs are full of posts about this man, his life and the personal impact he had.

Finding and documenting all of these stories would be a challenge but they tell his story in a way no other documentation can.


Same Name – But Are They the Same Person

After my experience with my James Crawford line, I’m a little hesitant to conclude that two people of the same name are the same person. Proving that I was looking at multiple James Crawford families in Kentucky was relatively easy — most had wills and my ancestor wasn’t in them. Unfortunately, the same is not true for my Hiram Currey line. Not only are there several Hiram Currey’s of the same appropriate age but the name, Hiram, was used across multiple generations.

According to the family bible, my ancestor, Hiram M. Currey was born in Peoria, Illinois in 1835. In the 1840 U.S. Census, there is a Hiram Currey with a male child under 5 (indexed as Hiram Caisy on Ancestry)


The Hiram Currey of Peoria Illinois was fairly active politically between 1825 and 1840. (from my Master Genealogy file)


This Hiram Currey seems to disappear around 1850. Locating his wife and children in the 1850 census has also been a challenge. So when I find that other researchers have him dying in Miami County, Ohio in 1874, I have to wonder if it is indeed the same person OR if they are two separate individuals. The Hiram Currey who died in 1874 in Ohio is probably the Hiram Currey listed in the 1870 Census for Champaign County, Ohio.


Even though this 1870 census is for someone of the same name, the name is the only commonality between the family in Ohio in 1870 and the family in Peoria, Illinois prior to 1850. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to locate the Ohio family in the 1860 U.S. Census or this Hiram Currey in the 1850 U.S. Census.

The age of the Ohio Hiram Currey also bothers me. At age 52, this Hiram Currey seems like he would have been too young to be commissioned as justice of the peace in 1827.

Until I have more proof that these are the same men, I’m going to stick with my original conclusion that they are two separate families and that the Hiram Currey of Peoria (my potential ancestor) disappeared before the 1850 census.


Sources: 1840 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.
Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: Sixth Census of the United States, 1840. (NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: 1870 U.S. census, population schedules. NARA microfilm publication M593, 1,761 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.Minnesota census schedules for 1870. NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.