This post comes from my experience as a non-professional, self-trained amateur/novice genealogist. I hope other "beginners" can benefit from these comments.
One of the main problems I mentioned in an earlier blog post and am now finding (as I get way up my family tree to the ninth great-grandparent level) is determining which of the same-named people is my relative and whether that person is in the correct family tree spot if there is more than one similar name. Here is a good example to illustrate the problems with common, frequent use of the same name in generations "back then."
I am looking to validate my 9th great-grandfather, JOSHUA RAYMOND, and found this in a document called "North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000." You will first see this:
- Joshua Raymond, who <married> 31 Aug. 1719, Elizabeth Christophers, daughter of John Christopher and Elizabeth Mulford, was a son of Joshua Raymond and Mercy Sands of Block Island, who were <married> 29 April, 1682 was grandson of Joshua Raymond and Elizabeth Smith of New London, who were <married> 10 Dec., 1659, and settled at New London, where he <died> 24 April 1676.
In my case, one or all of these Joshua Raymonds are most likely related, but I cannot be sure where to put them in my genealogy based solely on this information; besides, the language in this paragraph and those before and after is very confusing, something that is common in very old documents. I will have to keep looking for validating clues...dates, names, places, some kind of 'newspaper' reports (though keep in mind the time period is mid- to late-1600's and early 1700's, when Massachusetts was known as Massachusetts Bay in British America), and other documentation.
I must continue to challenge myself to be skeptical of similar names without removing much of the uncertainty; adding the wrong person can make the complex search algorithms used by the genealogical database owners take me down a rabbit hole that will only distract me from the already-complex enough journey up my own tree.