TMG-L ArchivesArchiver > TMG > 2010-07 > 1278704903
From: "David Ball" <>
Subject: Re: [TMG] Name collectors and why I don't trust online trees. wasRE: Questionable trees?
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 2010 12:48:23 -0700
References: <25062760.1803411278574865265.JavaMail.firstname.lastname@example.org><2000566028.1803541278574953935.JavaMail.email@example.com><02c201cb1eb8$69e12690$3da373b0$@com> <4C362CA9.firstname.lastname@example.org><043e01cb1efc$1911cd20$4b356760$@com><001801cb1f8d$fdb9e7a0$f92db6e0$@net><201007091908.o69J8nd3015306@mail.rootsweb.com>
Yes those infamous county histories contain a marvelous concoction of fact and fiction and
lots of layers in between. But be cautious about discounting everything. There can be
important clues, even if they have been cobbled together with fiction.
For example, I started my quest for parents for my 3-greats grandfather, Ezekiel Ball, an
early pioneer into Woodbury, Vermont, with this 1889 county history blurb:
"Ezekiel Ball, at the age of sixteen years, came to America from England with his father.
He was born in 1774. They settled in Boylston, Mass., where he married and removed to
Vermont. About 1800 he came to Woodbury and his was the sixth family in the town. He
settled on the farm where Mark P. Goodell now resides, where he died June 12, 1836."
When I figured out that the author of that little blurb was the husband of one of
Ezekiel's granddaughters, it took on a bit more credibility. There were only five
families in Woodbury VT for the 1800 census, so Ezekiel could have arrived shortly after.
It was the 1880 census where two of Ezekiel's daughters said he was born in Massachusetts
that I started to suspect that the story was not 100% accurate. I eventually found
Ezekiel's baptism at a church in Shrewsbury MA (parent town to Boylston) in 1869 (five
years earlier than the county history date) and that gave me parents. His father, Daniel,
was active in the Shrewsbury town records up to about 1777, then he sold all of his land,
mostly to his elder sons, and his next record anywhere that I can find was the 1790 census
at Boylston. My working theory, and it is only a theory, is that Daniel Ball was a
Loyalist and left most of his family (his older sons fought as Patriots), but took his
youngest son with him out of the country. Now exile to England, while possible, would not
be as likely as Canada, but if Ezekiel was 16 when he got back to Boylston MA, the actual
year would have been 1785 and about the time that Loyalists were wandering back from
Bottom line the Washington County, Vermont, history was not very accurate, but it started
me off in the right direction to identify parents, a task the my grandfather Ball worked
on several years with no success.
> It has been happening for well over a hundred years now and the
> advent of the Internet had nothing to do with it. How often have you
> gone into a library and picked up a published family history or even
> a county history. So, you look through it and there is your
> ancestor! And you think , great, maybe this will give me something I
> didn't know about him. But as you read through it, you begin to
> wonder where the writer got the information as it is so
> incorrect. Now, this person is definitely your ancestor (too many
> things match up). But also, too many things are clearly wrong. The
> ancestor (who was born in Kentucky) is said to be a native of
> Ireland. His parents were not the ones given in the book as being
> natives of Scotland (one was actually born in Virginia and the other
> in Kentucky). And there is more .
> I have had this kind of thing happen a number of times. I note the
> data and mark it as wrong in TMG, but I often find some other record
> somewhere that gives me a clue as to where the writer got the
> information. It turns out that the ancestor above went with his
> parents on a trip to Ireland and Scotland to visit the homes of the
> father's grandparents (the names given as the parents). This from a
> county history from an author who was well-known and well-respected,
> and published a number of oft-cited, seemingly well-researched publications.
|Re: [TMG] Name collectors and why I don't trust online trees. wasRE: Questionable trees? by "David Ball" <>|