Saturday, July 7, 2018

Joshua Raymond, sure, but...

...which one?

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.
The short paragraph continues to name more "Joshua Raymond's," none with middle names, several with spouses named "Elizabeth" and what I assume is accurate factual data about their birth, marriage, domicile, and death. This is not enough information for me to decide which name belongs in the 9th great-grandfather slot, if any of them do, and highlights the danger of just putting a name you might be looking for into your tree because an online database has an easy, familiar name without validating the person's specific relationship to you.

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.

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