Same Names – Identity Tag

While using The Master Genealogist software, I developed an ‘identity’ fact. By sharing this fact, I was able to connect two individuals whom I thought might be the same person. I used the notes field to add information about the possibility that these were the same person.

The fact type transferred to RootsMagic, but the sentence structure still needed work. As I’m encountering a lot of ‘same name’ issues in my current research, I want to use this fact type. Thus, I needed the sentences to work.

After some trial and error, I got the sentence structure to work for the Principal and Principal2.

I have two Hampton Crandalls in my database that I believe are the same person. Thus, I had added the Identity tag to one and shared it with the other.

In the past, this type of tag helped keep me from combining individuals before having sufficient proof that they are indeed the same person. Thus, I am going to start using it again!

Hijacked – Same Name Issues

In your genealogical research, have you researched people of the same name? Have you found it challenging to separate those individuals of the same name? I know that in my research, I have encountered a lot of ‘same names’.

This experience has helped me look at my current research and question whether I’m working with records for the same person. Yesterday while working Ancestry hints for William Crawford, son of the William Crawford who was in Madison County Kentucky prior to 1800,

Since I didn’t have much information on the son, William, I wasn’t sure the will was for the correct William. Thus, I wanted to see whether the family in the will matched what other researchers had for William Crawford. So, I turned to the tree on FamilySearch.

That’s when it got very confusing! The family for William Crawford matched the family in the will. The death date for William Crawford on the FamilySearch tree matched the death date I had in my file: 1855. However, there were a lot of sources attached that didn’t seem to match. This included a link to a William Crawford on Find a Grave with a death date in 1862 and several sources for Maryland records. Thus, it appears that the FamilySearch William Crawford, son of William Crawford of Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, was ‘hijacked’ by someone researching a William Crawford of Maryland.

Why do I suspect that two different William Crawford men have been combined?

  • A preponderance of records put the father in Kentucky prior to his move to Missouri
  • No records have been found placing the father in Maryland
  • The date of the will supports a death date in 1855 and not in 1862
  • The will was found in Pope County, Arkansas and not in Maryland
  • The will identifies 5 daughters: Janes (Whitenburg), Nanch (Heneford), Matilda (Willis), Betsy (Logan) and Sally (Logan) which matches the family on FamilySearch
  • No sons are mentioned in the will

To correct the record for William Crawford on FamilySearch, I added the will as a source. I also ‘detached’ the Maryland records. A discussion was added to hopefully prevent future confusion between the William Crawford of Arkansas and the William Crawford of Maryland.
To help me avoid creating such confusion, I decided to review what lessons I could learn from others about researching people of the same name. Thus, I consulted the following articles.

My ‘same name’ battle is not over. Thus, I will have to remain aware that I, myself, might be mixing up records for different people of the same name.

Big Tree Same Name Issues

Do you have ‘same name’ issues in your genealogy research? I know I have them in mine:

  • Hiram Currey
  • Noah Briles
  • James Crawford
  • William Thompson

Thus, I’m a little sensitive when computer algorithms merge them together. 
I first encountered this with Ancestry’s One World Tree when my James Crawford research was merged into one profile. 

Recently, Randy Seaver has been writing about Ancestry issues. His recent post, A Reader’s Take on Ancestry Problems, Part IV: The Ancestry Big Tree discusses what he has learned about Ancestry’s Big Tree. Randy also discussed the Ancestry Big Tree on today’s session of Monday’s with Myrt. 
I evidently browsed thru Randy’s post since I didn’t pick up on the Google search aspect. However, when Randy demonstrated a Google search on Monday’s with Myrt, I started wondering how the Big Tree would handle my same name issues.

Thus, I started searching.

My first search was for my ancestor, James Crawford. James was born about 1772 in Virginia and died in 1854 in Preble County, Ohio. I was pleased when I found his profile – without any of the other James Crawfords mixed in.

I then tried to find James’ neighbor, James Crawford. This James Crawford was born about 1770 in Virginia and died in 1833 in Warren County, Indiana. This James (1770-1833) was married to Martha Knight. My search for ‘James Crawford 1770-1833 ancestry’ did not pull up the Ancestry page on the first 3 pages of results. A search for ‘Martha Knight 1773-1842 ancestry’ did pull up the family. Again, I was pleased that the family wasn’t merged with another James Crawford. However, I am puzzled as to why the James Crawford search was not successful. 

Having success, I then tried to locate James Crawford (1758-1836). This James Crawford died in Jefferson County, Indiana. He married Rebecca Anderson Maxwell. DAR applications have confused records for this James Crawford with James Crawford (1757-1836) of Fleming County, Kentucky.

The Fleming County James was married to Sarah Vansant. Thus, I expected a search for James Crawford 1758-1836 to possibly pull up both James Crawfords. However, I was surprised when the Indiana James Crawford was merged with Rev. James Crawford of Lexington, KY.

When I did a search for ‘James Crawford 1757-1836 Ancestry’, I did not find a link to Ancestry’s Big Tree of the first few pages of results. I then tried searching for his wife, Sarah Vansant. I tried various spellings of her surname: Vansant, Vansandt, Van Sant, Vanzandt. None of my searches for her resulted in a link to the Ancestry Big Tree. 

From my test of Google searches for members of the Ancestry Big Tree, I am concluding

  • There are still issues with individuals of the same name being merged together.
  • That searching for a spouse or child might be required to locate someone in the Ancestry Big Tree.
  • Not everyone is included in the Ancestry Big Tree.
  • My Ancestor has not been merged with his neighbor and is included in the Ancestry Big Tree!

I then looked at my Heartland Genealogy tree in Ancestry for each of these families. I discovered that I have Ancestry sources for my ancestor, but only have ‘other sources’ for the other James Crawford families.

Thank you Randy Seaver for inquiring about a ‘Big Tree’ and for sharing what you’ve learned!

Research Logs

Do you have one task that ‘genealogy experts’ recommend that you just don’t seem to be able to tackle? For me, that tends to be a research log.

Even though I have a ‘research log’ from my early days of research, I haven’t been consistent with keeping that log — especially with Internet searching. And, I really could use a comprehensive research log now!

I have the opportunity to apply for a ‘brick wall’ consultation at the upcoming Topeka Genealogical Society conference in April. As part of that application, I need to submit a list of sources already checked. With forty years of research and a lot of same name issues, I could really use a complete research log!

For this application, I am going to submit James Crawford (1772-1854) of Preble County, Ohio as my brick wall ancestor. James married Sally Duggins in 1799 in Garrard County, Kentucky before migrating to Ohio by the early 1800s. The research question I would like assistance with is “Who is James Crawford’s father?

Seems simple enough, right. Unfortunately, there are a lot of same name issues with researching this ancestor.

  1. Next door neighbor in Preble County, Ohio was James Crawford (1770-1833) who married Martha Knight in 1793 in Lincoln County, KY. This James Crawford migrated from Preble County, OH to Warren County, IN where he died. Also migrating to Warren County, IN from Preble County, OH at about the same time was Nelson G. Crawford, the son of James and Sally (Smith Duggins) Crawford.
  2. There is a third James Crawford (1758-1836) living in Madison and Garrard counties in Kentucky prior to 1800. This James Crawford was married to Rebecca Anderson and migrated to Jennings County, IN and then to Jefferson County, IN.
  3. Garrard County KY histories refer to a Rev. James Crawford. There was a Rev. James Crawford (1752/3 – 1803) at Walnut Hill Presbyterian Church in Fayette County, KY. Rev. James Crawford was married to Rebecca McPheeters.
  4. DAR applications by descendants of James Crawford and Rebecca Anderson appear to have records mixed up with a James Crawford (1757-1836) who resided in Fleming County, KY. This James Crawford was married to Sarah Vansant.

So, I not only need to identify sources I’ve checked for James and Sally (Duggins) Crawford, but also sources I’ve checked for all of these other James Crawfords.

To start re-creating such a research log, I used RootsMagic to print an individual summary report, complete with bibliography for each of these James Crawfords. I then copied the bibliography entries into Notepad where I could remove the leading punctuation and clean up any other errors.


From Notepad, I copied the entries into Excel. Since there were blank lines between each bibliography entry, those blank lines copied over to Excel. To eliminate the blank lines, I sorted by the bibliography column. This pushed all of the blank lines to the bottom of the list.


Unfortunately, that only gets sources that I’ve cited in RootsMagic. I had drawers full of research that would need to be added to this list of sources used. Fortunately, I have scanned most of that research. Unfortunately, I named the scanned files with the Dollarhide code I used to file the paperwork.


Since the code was part of my citations in Master Genealogist, I can find the paperwork when working from a source in my program. However, these file names don’t tell me where I got the information in each of those files. When I open the file, it is usually a handwritten document (remember my research is up to 40 years old).


Unfortunately, I don’t have a full citation on these old notes. However, I usually have a fairly accurate title. When I started working my way thru my Ohio notes, I was just Googling the title. Part way thru, I realized that I could probably find the information faster using WorldCat.


In some cases, I didn’t have enough of the title to find it via WorldCat. In those situations, I used the FamilySearch catalog and searched for the place associated with the resource. Then I drilled down to the type of information (history, tax, deeds, probate, etc.).

familysearchbibSo far, I’ve been able to find the bibliographic information thru either WorldCat or FamilySearch. This bibliography information was added to my Excel spreadsheet along with the filing code.


In the process, I also took the opportunity to change the file name so that it included an abbreviated version of the title of the resource.


In some cases, these files were actual copies of records. In those cases, I changed the file name to indicate the type and source of the record.


Yesterday, I managed to make it thru the process of identifying and renaming my Ohio files for Crawford. However, I still need to do my Kentucky files and my Virginia files. Since I have done some FAN club research, I should also add the files for Duggins and Sellers along with the bibliographies for the females appearing on the early Kentucky tax lists: Rebecca Crawford and Mary Crawford.

Lesson learned:

Use better file names

Keep a research log!




Two Julias

Have you ever looked at your genealogy and wondered, ‘How did I get that?’

That happened to me recently as I was researching the descendants of William Taylor Thompson of Wapello County, Iowa. William had a daughter, Julia. I had found a Wapello County, Iowa marriage record for Julia S Thompson to Edward Bates in 1868. Thus, I was following shaky leaf hints for Julia Thompson Bates.

In the process, I found the Find a Grave memorial for Julia A. Thompson Bates – who died in 1922. But wait, I have Julia Thompson dying before 1887.

So, where did I get the death information? And, is it correct? If so, does this mean I’ve mixed up two different Julia Thompsons?

I got the death date from the biography of W. T. Thompson in the Portrait and Biographical Album of Wapello County, Iowa. That biography lists the nine children of Mr. and Mrs. Thompson. This list of children includes ‘Julia is deceased’. Since the book was published in 1887, I concluded that Julia died before 1887. What also is telling from the biography is what it didn’t say about Julia. The name of the spouse is listed for the other daughters – but not for Julia.

After reviewing the biography in relation to the marriage record and Find a Grave record, I concluded that there were TWO Julia Thompsons of approximately the same age living in Wapello County at the same time.

Assuming I did mix-up two Julia Thompsons, I looked for a second Julia Thompson in the 1860 census for Wapello County, Iowa. I found a Juliann Thompson. age 8, in the household of Samuel and Eliza Thompson.

In other words, I likely had mixed up two different people!

Thus, I unlinked Julia Thompson, wife of Edward Bates, from the family of William and Polly (Evans) Thompson. I then added a daughter Julia to the family of William and Polly (Evans) Thompson with a death date prior to 1887. I also added an Identity fact linking the two Julia Thompsons. I use this fact when I have two individuals of the same name that could be the same person – but also might not be.