Below is a copy of a brilliant post by Ron Couch from back in 2003. It is not just entertaining, but profound.
Ron thank you again.
[original post appeared May 07, 2003, posted by Ronald Couch, message no. 3402:
Proof Positive and Documentation
I have been reading, with great interest the dialogue between researchers seeking the parents of various granpas and greatgrannies. It seems that some are upset with the "erroneous" charts found on the LDS and Ancestry.com sites, and want documented sources.
I hate to bear sad tidings, but there are no documents that can be trusted, and grave stones are useful only to find places to leave flowers.
"I have, in my possession, several certified copies of death certificates of great and great great grandparents. Not one of them contains any accurate information other than the date of death and interment. All the other information is either omitted, or wrong. My greataunt, a lovely lady, did not know the name of her grandmother..had no clue where either of her grandparents was born, and swore that they were born in the wrong state. The death certificate of my grgrandfather Sours, has a birthdate off the real one by six years. The survivor who supplied the information for that one, also, did not know the place of birth of either parent, or the names of either grandparent, and left my grandfather out of the obituary because they didn't get along. My greataunt Couch has the wrong birthdates for both her parents on the death certificate, and even the wrong names. She only knew the "nicknames" they used for themselves. My father was born in Missouri, but every document available, except his birth certificate, has him born in Oklahoma, because that's where his brothers were born, and he was "assumed" to have been born there, also. His birth certificate has the wrong date. When he was born there were no such documents, and he applied for one as an adult, and lied about his age. Even my own Birth Certificate is wrong. I only just found this out. The reliable document says that I was born at Freeman Hospital, in Joplin, MO. I never questioned that until, a week or so past, I mentioned this "fact' to my Mom's sister. She said, "That is wrong! You were born at your folk's place in Bell Center. I was there! Fortunately, my mother is living, so I called and asked her. She insists that I was born at her mother's home, and that my aunts weren't there at all. I just don't know whom to believe! Mothers are always forgetting things like that. So much for my birth certificate.
Census information can be a joke. All information must be filtered through a census gatherer who, for the most part, is semi-literate and totally unconcerned. He, in many cases, prefers to use initials to keep from having to spell the name, and, often gets the initials wrong. My grgrandmother, unfortunately, was named Statirah. She is almost always, "S. I." in the few census materials where she is found. My grgrgrandmother, Eleanor, became Eandor and Enor. My grandmother Sours lived more than thirty five years in her little house near Joplin, Missouri. Not once did a census taker stumble across her. Even though I spent my childhood in her kitchen and throwing rocks down her well, she did not exist in any verifiable way. Anyone seeking Beulah Sours in Jasper County, Missouri, will assume that she was not there...or that she died.
I have countless pictures of gravestones. Truly, a majority of them have the wrong dates of birth, some by as many as seven years, and many have even the wrong names. Remember, the iformation was probably provided by the same persons who filled the death certificate forms.
Family Bibles are very reliable....unless they give information for more than two generations...then, they mean nothing. About all you can really believe is that Mom did remember when her babies were born, and the names she gave them.
Finally, family members forget, No one in our family had ever heard the name "Greer". They, also, remember wrongly, or lie. I remember, many years ago, the discovery that grgrandma was half Native American. When this information was shared at a family reunion, it produced an outrage and denials. There was "no Indian blood in our family!' You see, it hasn't been long ago that having Indian heritage was a shameful thing.
None of his grandchildren knew that gggrandfather Glasby was an unbelievably rich man. His income for the year 1850, was one hundred thousand dollars..an huge sum in 1850. Unfortunately, he died early, and his namesake, my grgrgrandfather Glasby, decided to rob stagecoaches in California. He only escaped hanging because of his youth, and was disowned by his family. His children didn't know that, either. My mother and aunts didn't know that their grandpa Collins was tried for murder in Carthage, Missouri, after the War of Northern Aggression. (He was guilty, but he shot a Confederate, so he was innocent)
Let's face it. Most of our ancestors were poor as Job's turkey, barely literate or totally illiterate, and, while we honor and revere them, they were not regarded as important enough to merit biographies. Our records, should we be fortunate enough to find them, are scant and, sometimes, erroneous. If they are as bad as this in this century, Think how subject to error they must have been in earlier generations.
Genealogy, while it may be our passion, is not a science, but rather more like reading mystery novels or doing crosswords. We take what little we know, filter it through logic and reason, and make our best guess. Others will take the same material, guess differently, and disagree. Don't let it upset you. We can't be positive about anything. We only have our parents word that they are our parents, and, I remember that, when I was little, mine denied they were involved. They said a Stork brought me.
But, whoever they were, our ancestors, whatever they did to live, we should take pride in them. They were the survivors. So, Have fun! Don't fight! Remember: Greers Are Great!"
[end of copy of original post which appeared May 07, 2003, posted by Ronald Couch, message no. 3402]
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