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Archiver > COLLETT > 2004-04 > 1080831280

From: "Leslie Collier" <>
Subject: Evaluating published research on Isaac Collett
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 2004 08:54:40 -0600

Don't buy a used car without a test drive!

My point is that we cannot swallow something published by an earlier
genealogist without checking it, for that is like buying a used car without
a test drive. At least we don't dare assume that every word penned by some
earlier researcher is gospel and base our pedigrees on info we haven't seen.

I guess it's OK to be a "photocopyologist" or a "downloadologist" as long as
we remember where we got the information and fix firmly in our minds (and in
our notes for anyone with whom we share to see) that we're working blind and
don't have a clue whether or not particular lineage is correct. It's much
safer to be a "CYA genealogist" and reveal our sources. If an earlier
version of published genealogy turns out to be less than valid, then we're
in the clear because we have ID'ed the perp.

While I can't swear for the rest of you, I know that I make enough mistakes
of my own that there is no need to borrow the mistakes of others, so I
always tell where I got the information. I also try very hard not to rely
on the work of an earlier genealogist if a line is important to me ... and
the Colletts surely are. I haul myself to the courhouse, the library, and
the nearest LDS Family History Center to read the records.

All of this is lead-up to a very interesting question ... how valid is a
particular published genealogy on Abraham and Isaac Collett? Is it all
right, all wrong, or part one and part the other? How do we know?

Here is the article in question:

by the Watauga Association of Genealogists. [Johnson City, Tenn.] 1988. 618
p. : illustrated. $60.00 Dallas Public Library Call Number: 976.897 H673
p. 289
"ABRAHAM COLLET FAMILY...Abraham Collet, born c1710, was in Augusta Co,
Va 1747. He was appointed processioner at 3 Sep 1747 meeting when county was
being organized, along with Capt. John Denton, neighbor and fellow
processioner in Augusta Co. His daughter md. John Denton, Jr., and,
tradition says, md. John Odell and came to Washington County after John
Denton, Jr. died. Information obtained from "TN Cousins." Settlement of
estate of Abraham I, dated 6 Aug 1754-administrator, son Abraham, Frederick
Co, VA court.
Son Abraham Collett, born c1733, lived in VA. He came to Washington
with family and entered land record 10 Mar 1778 in John and Landon Carter's
entry book: "640 acres for Abraham Collet on South side of Nolechucky River
below the bend at the upper end of a bottom including an old Indian Camp.
Office 25th Oct 1789. 640 acres surveyed for Isaac Collet by J.M. Lackey, 10
May 1792." He probably came with the Odell, Denton and Tipton families as
their names appear on official county records about this time. He died
before 4 Nov 1782. Payment voucher #342, dated june 27, 1782, signed by John
Sevier and Anthony Bledsoe, on record proving him a patriot in Revolutionary
War, furnishing some type of service.
At Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions held 4 Nov 1782, Abraham's wife
Mary and son Isaac Collet, named admr. of estate of Abraham Collet,
deceased, bond was 2,000 pounds. Memorandum of sale of estate returned by
son Isaac. Proven and filed in Inventory Book, 00, 1783, Washington County.
Children of Abraham, born c.1733: Isaac, born c1760, died 1809; Jacob, born
c1762; Ruth, born c1764; Ann, born c1766.
Isaac Collet, born c1760, lived in Washington and Greene Counties.
Received payment from Rev. War accountants for service or goods, dated 12
Jun 1783, Washington and Sullivan Counties, signed J. Sevier and Landon
Isaac bought the 640 acres in Greene Co, TN in 1793 that his father
entered in 1778. Isaac died 1809 and his estate was administered by oldest
son, Abraham Collet, born 1781. Record of estate settlement Greene Co
Administrator's Book, July Sessions 1809. Isaac's children: Abraham,
1781-1847; Isaac, born 1783, md. Nancy Delaney 26 Jun 1806, died after 1850
Census: Jacob, born 1787, md. Nancy Britton 5 Feb 1805, died Nov 1860; Maria
Collet, born c1790, md. Alexander Delaney, 19 Dec 1809; John, born c1794,
md. Jane Beals 26 Jul 1814. All were md. Greene Co.
Abraham Collet, born 2 Oct 1781, Washington Cty, died 26 Dec 1847,
Greene Co, buried old Collet graveyard located on the Ross Daniel farm, Rte
#3, Limestone, Tn. Abraham m: (1)Jane Sutton 23 Oct 1804 Greene Co, born ca
1784, died after 1830 Census; (2)Elizabeth Broyles 12 Jan 1833, Washington
Co, dau of Rosannah and Reuben Broyles.
Estate deed lists heirs: Elizabeth(Broyles)Widow; Jessie Edwin Collet,
1811-1867, md. 13 Aug 1840 Margaret Ann Hoss; Henry Earnest Collet, born
1812, md. Martha; Sintha, born 1813, md. Joseph Hartman 18 Mar 1841;
William, 1814-1865, died 6 Jan 1865, md. Louisa Temple Fullen 4 Oct 1836;
Malinda md. James Moyers 14 Sep 1837; Susan Collet, born 1815; Mariah md.
Josiah Yeager 12 Jan 1837; Abraham Styers Collet, born 1818; Rachel, b.
1821, md. Henry Kirk 11 Feb 1841; John Elbert, born 1822, d. bef 6 Apr 1903,
md. Sarah Elizabeth.
Marriages in Greene Co.
Direct line descendants of Henry Earnest Collet were William Newton
Collet, his son Joseph Dobson Collette, his son Robert Darden Collette and
his dau Elizabeth Collette Barry and Shirley Collette Hanick. Submitted by
Shirley Collette Hanick, 23369 Glencreek Drive, Farmington Hills, MI 48024.
References: Greene and Washington County court and census records, VA
court records."

Gee, it looks pretty good ... lots of names and dates and facts and
references to records. It must be true, right?

Maybe or maybe not, or maybe parts of it are right and parts of it are not.
I guess we'd better look more closely.

The portion in which I am interested most today is the portion which details
the children of Isaac Collett (bolded above for those of you whose display
is set to Rich Text and can see the color difference).

1. Could the author have first-hand information about Isaac Collett,
special info not available to us? Nope

Isaac died in 1809 and this account was published in 1988 ... there's a
difference of 179 years between these two dates. She didn't know Isaac
himself. Could she have known his children or his grandchildren, because
they likely knew him when he was alive? Well, she didn't know Isaac's son
Abraham, because he died in 1847, 141 years before this book was published.
She also didn't know Isaac's grandson Henry Earnest Collett, because Henry
Earnest died not long after 1880 ... over a hundred years too long ago (not
to mention that Henry Earnest was born 3 years after Isaac died and never
knew him either). She didn't know Henry's son William Newton,
(great-grandson to Isaac) because he died in 1890 ... 98 years too early for
the book.

She could well have known the next generation, Joseph Dobson Collette (her
grandfather and a great-great grandson to Isaac), and she did know her own
father Robert Darden Collette (great-great-great grandson to Isaac). All of
which makes her Isaac's great-great-great-great granddaughter. No matter the
exact year in which she herself was born, her published information is 6
generations and 179 years after Isaac's life. It was 141 years between the
last breath of anyone in her direct line who knew Isaac and the time the
author published this account.

Therefore, she has no magic secrets and had to use records for her

But wait a minute, she published in 1988, which is only 16 years ago -
almost yesterday in genealogical terms. She had the same records to inspect
that we have available today!

2. Did the author really read old records? Absolutely yes

Shucks, I can vouch for this, for I was doing Collett genealogy 16 years
ago. I was going to the courthouse in Greene Co., ordering microfilm from
the Family History Centers, reeling through old census, visiting the
National Archives ... and I am more than willing to attest to every record
that she includes in her published account, for I have eyeballed them myself
and have copies in my files. She didn't cite these clearly so that everyone
else can snap them up without going through the process of reading reams of
paper, but she obviously read them.

Isaac Collett hasn't made any new records lately, nor have any Greene Co.
records been destroyed by fire or some other tragedy in the years since this
author worked ... anything she had to use, we have today.

3. Did she get all the pertinent records? Maybe, maybe not

She doesn't refer to all the records which relate to Isaac and his children,
but that could be due to space. Perhaps she only mentioned the records she
felt were important.

It's impossible to tell from her published work if she got everything, but
there are a number of records on him that she doesn't mention. That is not
necessarily a flaw as long as she names the ones she used as proof.

That raises another thought ... since she was good about listing so many
records throughout her account, then if she found some really juicy proof
that made her 100% correct, wouldn't she likely have listed it? She does
seem to be detailed enough that she would not omit her very most important

4. What does she say about Isaac Collett's children? See below

For lack of a statement directly from the author, all we have to judge is
her printed words. Her words on Isaac's children refer to only one record as
though it had the answers. This is an 1809 administration record in Greene
Co., TN. Here is that reference again:

"Isaac died 1809 and his estate was administered by oldest son,
Abraham Collet, born 1781. Record of estate settlement Greene Co
Administrator's Book, July Sessions 1809. Isaac's children: Abraham,
1781-1847; Isaac, born 1783, md. Nancy Delaney 26 Jun 1806, died after 1850
Census: Jacob, born 1787, md. Nancy Britton 5 Feb 1805, died Nov 1860; Maria
Collet, born c1790, md. Alexander Delaney, 19 Dec 1809; John, born c1794,
md. Jane Beals 26 Jul 1814. All were md. Greene Co."

5. Does the record bear out her statement? No

Here is that record, word for word. There's nothing before these little
sentences, there's nothing after them, fo the record goes on to other

PROBATE: TN; Greene Co; Minutes of the Court of Common Pleas, Vol. 1: TN;
Greene Co.; Minutes 1783-1799, 1805-1809 (1800-1804 missing) FHL US/CAN Film

p. 179 25 Jul 1809 July Sessions 1809
"Isaac Collett, decd. On motion of Abraham Collett, Administration is
granted to him on the estate of Isaac Collett, decd. Entered into bond with
Henry Earnest, his security in the sum of $700"

This record is very brief, and it names no one other than an administrator
Abraham Collett, plus his bondsman Henry Earnest. There is no statement that
Abraham is a son to Isaac, much less the eldest. He could have been a
brother to Isaac, uncle, cousin, or an interested bystander with the luck to
have the same last name (just kidding about the last part). No other
Colletts are named at all.

Plus the published account says specifically that a final settlement was
made in July 1809.

Oops. The naming of an administrator is the first step in settling an
estate, not the final one. As long as there are assets to be divided, the
probate remains open. That's the law. This implies that some later action
will be taken by the court.

6. Where do those other Collett names originate? Not from any other
probate record

Since they're not in the record to which the Collett author refers, they
must come from somewhere else. But where?

There is no surviving probate package in some dusty storage place in the
Greene Co. Courthouse. I've looked myself, both with and without the aid of
courthouse employees. Not only is no will recorded, there is no will, for
the term "administrator" applies only to intestate estates. Had Isaac left a
will, even if it were lost today, the term in the county court minutes would
have been "executor." There's not another mention of Isaac Collett and his
probate in any volume of Greene Co. records for 3 years.

Since the author seems to have read a lot of records, then the other
children whom she lists must come from somewhere. She couldn't possibly have
been dreaming.

7. What other records could have been used? Not simply from marriage

Not simply from tax lists, deeds, and court minutes because she lists a
daughter Maria.

Myabe she got the names from the marriage records? Here are the only early
Collett marriages recorded in Greene County. Note that I have ended listing
Collett marriages with the 1814 record, for there is a stretch from 1814 to
1836 with no Colletts mentioned, and beginning in 1836, all further Collett
marriages can be accounted for as being the next generation:

Creekmore, Pollyanna & Gertrude L. Soderberg. (Knoxville, TN: Clinchdale
Press) 1965. p. 33
GREENE COUNTY MARRIAGES 1783-1868. Goldene Fillers Burgner. (Easley,
SC:Southern Historical Press) c1981. Dallas Public Library Call # 929.37689
GREENE COUNTY MARRIAGES, 1838-1850. John Vogt and T. William Kethley, Jr.
(Athens, Ga.:Ibérian Press) 1984. Dallas Public Library 929.37553 V886G


Collet, Mary James Kenny 12 Apr 1791 224
Collet, Rebecca Jesse O'Neil 22 Dec 1796 436
Robert O'Neil
Collet, Abraham Nancy Ellis 23 Mar 1802 797
John Ellis & Thomas Kennedy, Sec.
Collet, Abraham Jane Sutton 23 Oct 1804 975
Henry Earnest, Jr., Sec.
David Rice
Collet, Jacob Nancy Britten 5 Feb 1805 998
John Pevely, Sec.
Collet, Isaac Nancy Delaney 26 Jun 1806 1113
Daniel Delaney & James Hise, Sec.
Collet, Maria Alexander Delaney 19 Dec 1809 1384
Abraham Collet, Felix Earnest
Collet, John Jane Beals 26 Jul 1814 1654
Abraham Collet & Thomas Stanfield, Sec.

It doesn't look as though the Collett author picked the names from marriage
records, because she doesn't include Mary and Rebecca.

But there's another problem ... there are 2 marriages for an Abraham
Collett, and that's the name of the author's ancestor. Perhaps he married
first, lost this wife quite soon, and remarried 2 years later? Perhaps it's
a good idea to pursue this further.

8. One Abraham Collett ... or 2? Gulp, that's what has been left out

Now we've reached the nucleus of the problem. There were two contemporary
Abraham Colletts in Greene Co. in the early 1800's, and since they share a
name, how do we know for certain which one made which record? One belongs to
the author of the 1988 published genalogy from the Washington Co. family
history book, and the other one belongs to another line.

CENSUS: 1840; TN; Greene Co.; p. 67
Collet, Abra 00011001/00021001
1 male 15-19 (John Elbert 18) 2 females 15-19 (Rachel 19,1
1 male 20-29 (Jesse 29) 1 female 20-29 (Cynthia 27)
1 male 50-59 (Abraham 59) 1 female 50-59 (Elizabeth )

CENSUS: 1840; MO; Pike Co.; p. 132
Collett, Abraham 01100001 / 0110001
1 male 5-9 1 female 5-9
1 male 10-14 1 female 10-14
1 male 50-59 1 female 40-49

CENSUS: 1850; MO; Nodaway Co.; District 65; p. 387
household 212/218
Collet, Abraham 68 TN Farmer $1000
Elizabeth 57 NC
Abraham 23 MO Farmer $200
Jane 19 "
John 16 "
Reynolds, Sarah J. 10 "
John L. 4 "

I used to be highly thankful that I descend from anyone other than one of
the two Abrahams, for what the author omitted is the sad tale of a
genealogical turf war that went on in the 1980's between descendants of the
two Abrahams. Both camps loudly proclaimed that their particular Abraham
Collett should be credited as the one who administered the estate of Isaac.
One faction was led by the female author of the genealogy published in the
Washinton Co. mugbook above, while the other faction was headed by a
genealogist who lived in Atlanta, and he circulated his material as widely
as did she.

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