After recently researching the two Jonathan Hills of Prudence Island, Rhode Island, I decided I needed to vent again for a minute. It’s about that big subscription site that only indexes family trees with “sources.”
I guess that all depends on what one’s definition is of a “source.” Mine does not include other family trees (that also have no sources for their information) or titles of vast collections of (possibly user-submitted) data which, likewise, has no visible path to real records.
Jonathan Hill, born about 1657, likely on Prudence Island, is on 914 family trees. As I mentioned in my posts, the name of his wife is unknown – not even her first name. His father, also Jonathan Hill, was married to Mary (maiden name unknown).
Some of the family trees have no wife named for Jonathan Jr. and/or no names for either of his parents. However, the majority of the trees have Jonathan Sr. married to Mary Basset, Mary Sharwood, Mary Hill Basset or Mary Short.
The wife of Jonathan Jr. is listed as (mostly) Elizabeth Holmes, but also as Elizabeth Gates Holes, Helen Gale and Elizabeth Hail (Hale), the last of whom is likely the wife of Jonathan Jr.’s son, also named Jonathan.
What are the “sources” for this information? Take your pick:
Which of these would you consider sources? I would trust only two – U.S., New England Marriages Prior to 1700, which is Torrey’s well respected work. What exactly does Torrey say about marriages for the two Jonathans?
Jonathan (Senior) and wife Mary (Maiden name unknown)
Jonathan (his son) and wife (Unknown)
I have not found any newer research that further identifies these ladies.
What about Mary Sharwood as the wife of the senior Jonathan? The majority of family trees had her listed as the mother of Jonathan born about 1657. Well, Torrey has her listed in his book, too, as Mary SHARSWOOD.:
Jonathan Hill, born 1674 & Mary Sharswood, born 1672
of New London, Connecticut
This Mary was born in 1672, so she obviously isn’t the mother of Jonathan born in 1657. Also, this Jonathan and Mary Hill lived in New London, Connecticut, not Prudence Island or anywhere else in Rhode Island, for that matter.
The second source I would trust, because I looked into it, is highlighted in purple in the image above – Massachusetts, Marriages 1633-1850. This database is apparently the digitization of the Massachusetts Vital Records series created in the early 1900s. Here is the entry for Jonathan Hill:
Jonathan Hill & Elesebath Hail were married october ye 23:1707
This marriage took place in Swansea, Bristol County, Massachusetts. If it pertains to a Rhode Island Jonathan Hill, it seems much more likely that this is the marriage of the son of Jonathan (born c1657), also named Jonathan, who was born c1685.
So much for the “sourced” family trees on line. Vent done.