Check the Original Documents, Part 2

Here is another great example of both looking at a primary source document AND doing very simple historical research in order to correctly analyze a document.

David Lewis and Ann Beeson married on 30 January 1768 – or– on 30 March 1768 –or– on 30 June 1768 –or– 30 July 1768 –or – just maybe – on NONE of those dates.

I have seen all of those dates listed in various places online. However, most of them mention that the marriage date was noted in the New Garden Quakers Monthly Meeting in what was then Rowan County, North Carolina.

It was said that Ann Beeson married outside the Quaker faith, which was true, because David Lewis was not a Quaker.

I wanted to see proof that she was, indeed, mentioned in the minutes and determine which of those dates was her actual date of marriage.

A quick search turned up a digital image of the New Garden minutes and here is the page pertaining to Ann Beeson:

Minutes from 30 January 1768

Ann is mentioned at the very end:


The women Friends requests assistance of this
Meeting, in drawing a Testification against Ann Beeson who
is gone out in marriage. John Beals Jnr. is appointed, to
assist them.

Ann Beeson clearly married outside the Quaker faith, but when did she marry? It was before the date this meeting was held because it clearly says that she is already married – past tense is used.

Take a look at the opening statement:


At our Monthly Meeting held at New
Garden the 30th of the 1st mo. 1768. . . . .

The Quakers’ monthly meeting happened on the 30th of the first month of 1768 – NOT the Lewis-Beeson marriage. Where did the couple marry? Who knows. Probably not far from home, if not in one of their actual homes, and probably not long before the date of this meeting. However, they might have married even in late 1767. There is no way to tell. Therefore, the date of their marriage should be recorded as “before . . .”

Now, what about the discrepancies in the months – January, March, June, July???? I believe that people have misinterpreted the “J” month and misread the letters in the word somewhere along the line, coming up with January, June and July. As for March – someone else, I think, determined that the “30th day of the first month” was an old style date used before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1752, maybe because the name of the actual month wasn’t written down.

The Swarthmore College Friends Historical Library had the answer to the question about which calendar style was being used:


According to this excerpt, Quakers adopted the Gregorian calendar at the same time as everyone else in the colonies. However, they objected to the names of the months from January through August because the names came from those of pagan gods. Therefore, for the first eight months of the year, they wrote “1st month,” “2nd month,” etc.

The final answer to all these reputed marriage dates given for David Lewis and Ann Beeson is that they married sometime before the New Garden Monthly Meeting held on 30 January 1768.

For those of you who copy and paste without doing any actual original research – this took me all of ten minutes to locate and analyze. PLEASE take the time to check genealogical information. Maybe then more of the thousands of online family trees might be a bit more accurate.

Check the Original Documents!

While researching and writing the draft for tomorrow’s story, I came across yet another reminder to always seek out the primary source – the original document – when researching your family.

I love abstracts because they are often easy to find in books that have been digitized and I can figure out right away if I am looking for an actual will or a probate administration. However, I never stop at the abstract or even a full transcription of a will and here is why:

Abstract of the Will of David Lewis, 1822

I’ve researched in South Carolina in the past and know it can be tricky finding documents, particularly vital records, so I was pleased to see that David Lewis actually had a will filed in what is today Anderson County, South Carolina. I needed a list of his children. This abstract names ten children:

Priscilla Field
Elizabeth Alexander
Cozby Woodall
Hannah Narton
Widow Penelope

Other online sources state that David Lewis had thirteen children and, more importantly, my Joab Lewis, who is reputed to be his son, is not mentioned, even though he was alive and living nearby Isaiah and Neriah in Kentucky in 1830.

Hmm, this might be a real problem in proving Joab’s parentage. However, South Carolina probate records have been digitized by FamilySearch and are online. Next step – pull up the image of David Lewis’s will.

Actual Image of David Lewis’s Will, 1822

The clerk that recorded this will had very nice handwriting and the image is very legible.

Here are the heirs, in order,  that I find named:

Priscilla Field
Elisabeth Alexander
Cozby Woodall
Hannah Norton/Narton
Widow Penelope

There are only twelve children listed, not thirteen, but the point here is that the abstract omitted two sons – Jacob and my Joab!

Also, given the order of the children and the fact that widow Penelope is mentioned and then two more children after her, including unmarried Rosannah, I suspect that David named his children in birth order.

Joab was, indeed, a son of David Lewis and his first wife, Ann Beeson. If I had only looked at the abstract and not dug any deeper, I would have wasted who knows how much time looking for the father of Joab Lewis.

Moral of this story: Seek out the original document.


Cousins, Cousins Everywhere

I love blogging. When I first started, almost three years ago, I had two main purposes – to share ancestors’ stories and successful research techniques and resources AND to hope that new cousins found me. I definitely had control over sharing stories and resources, but could only hope that cousins found me.

I am pleased to report success on both fronts and I have been amazed at some of the relatives, distant and not so distant, who have come across my blog.  There are cousins, cousins everywhere, much to my joy and excitement.

Who has found me? Cousins from paternal and maternal lines of both my and my husband’s family trees.

I have gotten back in touch with fellow genealogist cousins from the 1980s and 1990s. I have helped a young person in his 20s take his family tree from his grandfather back into the 1600s in Europe. A few new black sheep have been discovered, as well as some seriously dedicated family history researchers. Connections have been made with children of friends of our parents. New data and family photos have been unearthed and shared.

There hasn’t been any one single earth shaking find, but, together, all of these contacts have made me do the genealogy happy dance many times over.

Blogging is a great activity because posts can be created as often or as infrequently as the writer wishes, but once a post goes live, others can find you. Family stories and photos can be shared and new connections made.

If you have thought about starting a blog, I would heartily encourage you to pursue your dream. I think you’ll like it!