Monday, February 25, 2013

Accurate Research - Day 23 of the Family History Writing Challenge

In the midst of this writing challenge, I was sidetracked. In fact, this is catch-up. I was asked to update a tree on for a family member. She doesn’t have the time right now to do the detail work. It’s fun and easy for me and my tree is pretty complete.

I pride myself on getting the facts right. I check names and dates. I check ethnicity. I double-check dates. I say that twice because I found that my great, great, great grandfather died 15 years before his son was born. What?

All right, I delete the death date I have and make a note to go back and see where I went wrong. I continue with her tree. Why are there three Martha Jane’s? There are three of a lot of the people. I can see why her tree needs help.

I flip back to my tree. I have three of some people too. Where did I go wrong? It seems that in my haste early on, some of the more distant relatives were double on the family trees I added. Back then, I wasn’t as careful.

It helps to pay attention. I no longer add references twice. I am very careful but after doing this challenge, I am so familiar with the family names that I know when they’re wrong. That doesn’t mean I get it right. The name “Rhea” is not that common but in Tennessee, it seems that all of the men are named “John Rhea.” Honestly, I get the handing down the name thing but in ten generations, there are eight!

So how did John Rhea’s father die 15 years before he was born? Obviously, I have the wrong John Rhea but with so many to choose from, which one do I pick. They are all born within 20 years of each other. That seems like an easy choice but there are variables.
For example, my great grandmother married her second cousin. That’s a chart I had to diagram to understand.

Martha Pricilla Rhea                and her brother               John Elijah Rhea Jr
1790- 1850                                                                  1804 – 1859

Married                                                                        Married

John McColloam                                                          Lucy Anderson
1773 – 1850                                                                1808 – 1865

(Already, there are new things to research. Martha and John McColloam died the same year. That’s a clue for something, another thing to add to the why list.)

They had:                                                                     They had:

James Northcross McColloam                          John Carter Rhea
1820 – 1898                                                                1842 – 1884   

So far so good, James and John are cousins. This is where it gets interesting. James is 24 years older that John.                           

Married                                                                        Married

Mary Polly Gray                                                           Martha Jane McColloam
1825 – 1888                                                                1848 – 1929   

They had:

Martha Jane McColloam

Martha Jane and John Carter were contemporaries. Regardless of the family relationship, they were both the same age. There were plenty of other choices for either of them but who knows what draws people together. That’s another thing to add to the I want to know list. You will also notice that there are three John’s. UGH! (As an aside, Martha and John had nine children. None of them are named John.)

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