Genealogy standards and repositories (Priority Reset, Part 2)

The article that I submitted for consideration to a genealogic journal was not accepted. The editor gave lots of feedback with clear directions on how to proceed. In my last post, I reported how and why my genealogy goals for this year have changed. In this post, I outline specific ways in which I plan to revise this article. 

Here’s my new goal: Using the editor’s suggestions as base, revise article about Maurer family. If I follow her suggestions, I will better meet Genealogical Standards[1]. To review, genealogical standards include five criteria:

  1. Reasonably exhaustive research-“emphasizing original records. . . . “[2]
  2. Complete, accurate citation of sources
  3. Tests of evidence by analyzing and correlating data
  4. Resolution of conflicts among evidence
  5. Written conclusion that is reasonable and coherent

Specifically, I did not completely meet the first criteria about original records. I possess, and cited, many  original certificates and/or copies of the originals.  I purchased certificates directly from state, county and local offices. Relatives sent me photo or digital copies. Some records were available online. However, I frequently cited online indexes as sources.

Indexes are not original records!  As the editor pointed out, indexes should primarily be used as a finding aid for the original document. Indexes are transcriptions of original material and, therefore, subject to error. How many times have you found an ancestor’s name misspelled on an index?   Contact the agency or group that holds the original record, i.e. the repository.  Often, you pay a fee for a copy of the record from an agency or group.  Citation of only an index does not meet the genealogical standard.

The original record may be available online. One example is a link to a newspaper article. The article has been indexed on a database; clicking on the link sends you to a digital image of the newspaper. In the example below, the newspaper (Tyler Morning Telegraph, published in Tyler, Texas) is the repository. The obituary was accessed through two database indexes-  Ancestry and Newspapers.com.  Citation of either index without actually finding the article is not enough.  

Is an index ever appropriate as a primary source? I’m not sure and will leave that debate to the genealogy professionals. When you find an index entry for your ancestor, you are definitely one step closer to that missing puzzle piece. Keep good notes and cite the index appropriately in your research log.

For more information: Genealogy 101: Indexes, an Important Part of Genealogy Research

You may not be able to obtain a copy of more recent records. Agencies set criteria for what records are public domain and what records have restricted access. I have seen 75-100- year limits on birth certificates becoming public domain and 25, 50 or even 75- year limits for death certificates. In one jurisdiction, only parents and the actual person can obtain a copy of an original birth certificate, unless the person has been dead for at least 50 years. You may still be able to get a transcript of the certificate. Proof of direct descent sometimes eases restrictions. This can be frustrating for genealogists. However, I respect these agencies for making an effort to limit identity theft.

Remember that online databases such as Ancestry, Find My Past, My Heritage and Family Search are NOT the repositories of most records. These online services are the intermediary between repositories and the public. Example – the repository for most U.S. census records is the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C. State health departments are often the repositories for birth and death certificates issued since about 1910.

Back to my original goal of revising my article.  Related to the first genealogical standard, my specific objectives are:

  1. Identify all citations with the word “index.”
  2. Detect indexes that may have a digital copy of the original records. When found, go to the original source. Cite the original source including URL.
  3. If original record is not available online, contact agency that holds the original record. Submit request forms and fees as needed. Wait for responses.
  4. Recognize that this process may take months and be costly.

Ultimately, I will produce a better, more complete, family history. What if none of these efforts work? That’s a question I will pose to the editor after I have exhausted all other resources.

The editor also suggested that I consult a broader range of sources such as land records and court proceedings. That will be a topic for another post! 

My article is a work in progress. I have to consider possible copyright issues and, therefore, cannot reveal more to you at this time. I have multiple stories about how I discovered information. I hope to share some of those research notes with you later.   

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021


SOURCES:

[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 2ND edition (Washington, D.C.: Turner Publishing Co., 2019).

[2] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, page 1.

What’s in a name – Sally or Ciety or Suzetta or Sarah Bailey?

The name of a person on a record is not always what it appears to be.  A person’s first name (a.k.a. given name) at birth and the name by which they are known are often different.  One name may be used on legal documents and a different name, often a middle name, on other records.  Then, there are nicknames and variations of given names. The given name-middle name-surname order is common in America but not in other countries.  To address the dilemma, genealogists ask:  “Is Person A on Document A really the same as Person B on Document B?”  Clues from various records lead to a best guess.  This post describes such an event in the Ellerbee family tree.

James John Ellerbee is my husband’s paternal great-great-grandfather. The maiden name of James’ first wife was Bailey. Her first name could be Sally, Ciety, Szetta, Sitie or Sarah. 

Source #1: Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History (Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 1986).

Page 14-43: “Jim Ellerbee served in Company L, 25th Regiment of Georgia Infantry Volunteers (Calhoun Repeaters); he enlisted as a private September 2, 1861, and served for the duration of the war. His regiment surrendered at Quincy, Florida, May 11, 1865. His first wife was a daughter of Judge William Bailey. Before going off to war Jim Ellerbee moved his wife Sally and their two children to the home of Judge Bailey. The Judge’s new wife did not like her step-daughter and step-children, so she had them move out of the house and into the slave quarters where they lived with a female slave. Later Sally became sick and died. The slave woman continued to care for the two small children until Jim returned home from the Civil War. He returned in the spring of 1865, dirty, in rags, his hair down to his shoulders, his health poor, with a muzzle loading rifle as his sole possession. He found his family in that grievous situation, and a general distress prevailed everywhere. He remarried later that year and rented a farm near Damascus, Georgia.  Just 12 years later he died.

His oldest son, then 17, moved to Wells County, Georgia, in Angelina County, to work for his grandfather Judge Bailey (who had moved there after the Civil War). William Green Ellerbee moved his stepmother and the rest of the family to Texas about two years later. “  NOTE: Specific source not cited. Book contains list of sources at the end.

Source #2:  John N. Cravens, William Edward Bailey: Georgia Planter and East Texas Farmer (Wichita Falls, Texas: Tosh Press, 1962). Copy given to Susan Posten Ellerbee by her father-in-law, Jerry Donald Ellerbee, ca 2012.

Page 3: “[W.E.] Bailey was married three times. In 1839, he married Miss Sarah Sutton of Calhoun County, Georgia, where he then lived. His wife died shortly after their child was born. In 1849, he was married a Miss Elizabeth Hutto near his home and one child was born to them. After his second wife died, Bailey married Mrs. Indiana Cherry Moore at Bainbridge. Delta, now Decatur County, Georgia in 1853. [Footnote] (5).”

Footnote 5:  “Obituary” previously cited and another clipping of an obituary of W.E. Bailey owned by Anna Bailey Cochran, a granddaughter.

“Obituary” in the East Texas Reformer, IV, No. 31, Jacksonville, Cherokee County, Texas, Thursday, February 23, 1899.

No further mention made about  children born to William Edward Bailey and his first two wives.

Source #3: 1850 U.S. Census, Baker County, Georgia, population schedule, Third District, p. 46B, family 97, William E. Bailey 36, head of household; digital images,  Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com    : accessed, downloaded, printed 2012); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication roll M432_61.

  • Family no. 97:
  • William E. Bailey, 36, born Wilkinson Co, GA [Georgia]
  • Louiza, 16, born Baker Co, GA [Georgia]
  • Ciety, 10, born Baker Co, GA [Georgia]
  • John King, 17, born  SC [South Carolina]
  • NOTE:  1850 census does not list relationships of persons in household.

Source #4:  1860 U.S. Census, Jackson County, Florida, population schedule, Marianna, p. 111, Family 785, John J Ellerby; digital images, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com     : accessed, viewed, downloaded on 3 February 2017); National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M653.

  • Family no. 785 (transcribed as written)
  • John J. Ellerby, 21 male, race:  marked with X,  farmer, born Georgia.
  • Szetta Ellerby, 18, female, race: marked with checkmark , born Georgia
  • Sarah A Ellerby, 1, female, race: marked with checkmark , born Georgia
  • John Stanley, 26, male, race: marked with X, farm laborer, born N. Carolina
  • Thomas Houston, 33, male, race: marked with X, farm laborer, born  S. Carolina
  • William Johnson, 13,  male, race: marked with X, farm laborer, born Georgia
  • NOTE: 1860 census does not list relationships of persons in household.

Sources # 5 & 6:  Death certificates for William Green Ellerbee and Sarah A. Ellerbee Martin Sutleff, presumed children of John J Ellerbee and his first wife.  Death certificates accessed online from Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com )

  • Texas Department of Health, death certificate state file no. 56, Sarah Alice Sutleff.  Birth:  July 6, 1859 in Macon, Georgia. Death: January 23, 1954 in Angelina county, Texas. Parents: James Ellerbee, ‘Sitie’ Bailey.  Note:  ‘Sitie’ has quotation marks on the certificate.
  • Texas Department of Health, death certificate no. 9457, W. G. Ellerbee. Birth: Jan. 12, 1861 in Georgia. Death: March 18, 1932 in Lufkin, Angelina county, Texas. Parents: W.G. Ellerbee, Miss Bailey.  Note:  W.G. Ellerbee’s parentage  is a topic for another post. 

SUMMARY & ANALYSIS:

  • From Ellerbe history, John J. Ellerbee’s 1st wife was Sally Bailey. Specific source not cited for information.
  • Sally is a derivative of the name Sarah. Source:  Behind the name: Sally
  • Biography of William Edward Bailey does not name the child of Bailey’s first wife, Sarah Sutton. Source is obituary for William E. Bailey. I have not been able to locate or obtain a copy of the obituary.
  • 1850 census: 10 year old Ciety Bailey living with William E. Bailey, age 36 and 16-year-old Louiza Bailey. Ciety’s estimated birth year of 1840 is consistent with 1st marriage of Judge Bailey in 1839.  From unconfirmed sources, Judge Bailey’s mother was Ciety Allen.
  • 1850 census: “Louiza” is likely Elizabeth Hutto, Judge Bailey’s 2nd wife whom he reportedly married in 1849 per Bailey biography.
  • 1860 census: Szetta Ellerby [Ellerbee], age 18, presumed to be wife of John J. Ellerby [Ellerbee]. Estimated birth year 1841 or 1842.  Sarah A. Ellerby, age 1, presumed to be their daughter, Sarah Alice.
  • Death certificates for children of James J Ellerbee and his 1st wife list mother as ‘Sitie’ Bailey and ‘Miss’ Bailey. Digital copies of the original certificates.
  • Two of five sources (1850 census and death certificate for Sarah Alice Sutleff) show similar given names of Ciety and Sitie for her mother. Two of five sources (Ellerbe history, 1860 census) list different names of Sally and Szetta. One source (death certificate for W.G. Ellerbee) lists his mother’s name as ‘Miss Bailey’ .
  • Three of five sources (Ellerbe history, children’s death certificates) suggest a maiden name of Bailey.

CONCLUSION:  

  • Sally Bailey, daughter of Judge William Bailey (Ellerbe history), Ciety Bailey (1850 census), Sitie Bailey (daughter’s death certificate) and Szetta Ellerby (1860 census) are probably the same person.
  • ‘Miss Bailey’ named on son’s death certificate is likely the same person also known as Sally, Ciety, Sitie, and Szetta.
  • Sally Bailey, 1st wife of John J. Ellerbee, is likely the child of Sarah Sutton and William Edward Bailey.
  • Sally’s given name was perhaps Sarah, after her mother. Her daughter, Sarah, was possibly named after her grandmother, Sarah Sutton.

 

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

Reflection:

I have multiple handwritten notes on various documents about Sally Bailey Ellerbee’s name.  I compiled the information in one document when updating my father-in-law’s Ellerbee scrapbook.  I used the Genealogy Proof Standard as a guide. Both original and derivative sources were used; source citations are mostly complete. The sources contained secondary information and reflect indirect evidence. Multiple data and sources were correlated.  I addressed conflicts and wrote a conclusion.

What I learned:  Look at each document critically. Second or third or fourth review may yield insights that you missed previously. 

What helped:  Copies of all documents and sources readily available. Notes written earlier on various documents. Compiling all information in one document.

What didn’t help:  Initially, not recognizing possible derivations of the same name.

To-do: Continue search for documents and evidence about Sarah Sutton and her presumed daughter. Keep research logs.