In the process of my efforts to make sure all my notes, photocopies, etc. are filed in a more easily retrievable manner, I began tackling a notebook that contained some of my earliest attempts in genealogy. This particular notebook contains information from at least three families that were connected with each other. I've not worked on one of the families in at least a dozen years (maybe even longer). As I am going through the materials, I'm trying to see what is in my database and what isn't, if it pertains directly, in an identifiable manner to my direct or collateral lines, and add it if necessary. For things that were attempts to crack the brick wall on this line, I'm going back to try to annotate some of the research so that I can see if I can make it a bit more meaningful to try to get past the brick wall, and typing it up (with footnotes) to get it in a more retrievable format. I've come across some interesting things.
I had handwritten notes on notebooks in 3 ring binders without reinforcements. I've discovered a page of notes with the bibliographic information missing on one of the items. What I do know about the source is that on pages 143-147 (at the very minimum) is a list of early marriages of Cumberland County, Kentucky. My notes indicate that the source stated that the county was formed in 1798 and included large parts of several counties, one of which was Wayne County. I also have a note that the list that follows was made by Mrs. Nora C. McGee before the courthouse fire of 1933. (I've summarized for you here, but I had the actual wording in my notes.) Then I included the marriages for two surnames that I was researching in Wayne County. Oh, how I wish I'd known then to make sure that the source information appeared on each page that I wrote by hand. I sent an e-mail to a couple of friends who do a great deal of research in Kentucky. I mentioned to them that I'd probably gotten it from the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County. I also mentioned that if they couldn't identify the source that I'd have to hope that either the McClung Collection or Tennessee State Library & Archives had it. One of them quickly replied that it was not one source and that it was probably another which was available at TSLA. To look at that source is now on my "to do" list for my October visit to TSLA.
Since I'm trying to identify the parents of Dicey Davis who married Charles Harris in Wayne County in 1811, I thought it might be helpful if I looked at some online family trees to see if any of them could shed some light on some of the marriages that I had collected. We all know how entertaining some of those trees can be, especially the undocumented ones. For example, I found the same marriage attributed to one husband who was said to have belonged to different sets of parents. I was attempting to locate a Marice Carter who married a Betsey Harris 10 Dec 1806 in Cumberland Co., Ky. I found a Morris Veale Carter, who married a Nancy Brown in 1813 in Nelson Co., Ky., whose parents were listed by one researcher as Edward Carter and Margaret Mason, but by most researchers (including ones with a greater degree of documentation) as Peter Carter and Amelia Veale. None of these trees identify an earlier marriage to a Betsey/Elizabeth Harris, but at least I have an annotation about it which might help in unpuzzling something in the future.
Then you have the cases of the underage marriages. Did an 18-year-old man marry a 10-11 year old girl as one tree seemed to indicate in the marriage of Robert Davis to Sally Smith in Lincoln County, Kentucky in 1796? The tree, which lacks documentation, states that Robert was born in 1778 and was the son of Robert Davis and Jane Jopling. It states that Sally was born in 1785/86 to Martin Smith and Hannah/Joannah Stephens. Do we have incorrect birth dates? Or is this a case of misidentifying the wife? Or did an 18 year old really marry and underage girl? Once again, I have an annotation with plenty of questions for further research attached to this one for further investigation.
I'm not a person who uses online family trees as a source for a final report. I'd much prefer to get as close to the original records as possible. These trees only provide clues for me. I want to see if I can build the families from the original records. I just need to know what other people are saying about the relationships and see if I come to the same conclusions from my own research. If there are disagreements between my conclusions and theirs, can I resolve the conflicts? This is a case where my annotated notes will prove more helpful than my genealogy software. I have not identified any of these families as my own, although they are in the same area as my families.