Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Genealogical instincts

I've been relying on my instincts as of late when it comes to my genealogy research. And lately my research has become a lot like a detective solving a mystery, maybe even like Nancy Drew, a favorite of mine. But I've recently been re-reading the Sue Grafton 'Alphabet' mysteries since her latest one the letter 'V' is due out this coming November. I'm up to 'G is for Gumshoe' and discovered just why I enjoyed reading the books the first time. Kinsey Milhone, the main character a private detective works in much the same way an amateur genealogist does. Unlike the police department which has access to records of all kinds, Kinsey and genealogists alike don't and have to rely on finding records and information in her case in other more creative ways.

But genealogists, much like Kinsey and even Nancy Drew have to also rely on their instincts especially when they encounter a new client or in my case a record that leaves me with some suspicion about whether its completely reliable. Sometimes most of the information within the record is so overwhelming as far as being convincing that instincts shouldn't play a part but do anyway. In most cases the particular record is the ONLY one that makes the most sense given what I happen to be searching for. Thus is the case of the Wilkins line that I believe is the maiden name of Mary Eliza (or Elizabeth), wife of MY John Robinson, parents of my 2nd great-grandfather Edmund Lowell Robinson.

None of the other names, dates, places or even families come close to making plausible sense other than John Wilkins and Harriet Sockett Francis who happened to have a daughter, Mary Elizabeth, born 10 Feb 1824. In fact, other than Mary and her 'brother' David Francis Henry, I haven't been able to track their siblings except in Canadian census records because Mary and David are the only ones that married. The more frustrating thing is David's wife's maiden name is, you guessed it Robinsons and her father's name is JOHN; her mother's name is MARY. That is the THIRD couple that share the names of my ancestors, with ONE difference, this particular John was born in Ireland and NOT England, which doesn't make him any easier to track, especially if HE was my ancestor.

I just find it completely ironic that the John Robinson I started out with wasn't mine and yet one actually ends up becoming linked to MY John Robinson because of marriage. My point is my instincts are telling me that John Wilkins and Harriet Sockett Francis ARE Mary Eliza's parents and not just because they happened to have a daughter with her name but because per David Francis Henry Wilkins' marriage record, two of her children are witnesses AND her MOTHER is prominent in the Canadian census records as either living with John Robinson and family or vice versa with them living with her. Either way, each census record has the senior Harriet (she had a daughter named Harriet as well) in close proximity to the Robinsons. I feel strongly enough that the evidence is enough to tell me that I can add the Wilkins and Francis names to my family tree. Unfortunately the other John Robinson's line traces further back but again is only linked to mine by marriage. The moral, your instincts are something you not only cannot ignore but can't take for granted either. If they are telling you that the line you are researching is connected to your tree, take the next step and find more evidence to convince yourself your instincts are right.

No comments: