I like to gather all of the evidence for each person in my family tree that I can.
However, the evidence does not always agree.
Take for example the case of Mary Gilman, daughter of John and Mary (Young) Gilman. In two published family histories it states that she was born on 6 August 1840 and died on 22 September 1855.
When I looked for confirmation of this information in newspapers published at the time in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, I found that a Concord, New Hampshire, newspaper ran this obituary notice for Mary.
Notice the day and month of death is the same as the family histories: 22 September; but the year is different – 1854. This obituary tells me that she died on 22 September 1854, not 1855.
The newspaper article gives her name as Mary “Melinda” Gilman.
Hmm… the family histories give her name as Mary “Marenda” Gilman.
The newspaper article also mentions that she was “aged 18.”
That would indicate that she was born in 1836, but the family histories state that she was born on 6 August 1840.
Let’s look at the 1850 census and see what it tells us about her age.
The census states that she was 14 years old in 1850.
That fits with what the obituary states – that she was 18 years old in 1854 when she died.
It is looking like she was born in 1836 and not in 1840.
And, look closely at her name – it is given as “Marinda” in the 1850 census.
That’s very close to the “Marenda” spelling in the online family histories.
The census taker heard her name and wrote down “Marinda,” and the newspaper gives it as “Melinda” – two very similar-sounding names.
By gathering primary sources that were created at the time of the events in her life, I can evaluate conflicting information and come to a conclusion about the particulars in her life. It can take additional research to sort out conflicting information.
Genealogy Tip: Gather all of the evidence you can and document each member of your family tree as thoroughly as possible.