Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Proof is in the Pudding

There's an old saying, don't know where it originated or what it means, that goes . . . the proof is in the pudding. When dancing with the ancestors, the proof is often not in the family stories or the printed genealogy books you'll find, but rather . . . in the pudding of your search to prove and/or disprove the information you've found.

Case in point: Jahaziel Tate who married Jane Lockhart. They had three children: Andrew Jackson, John Stubblefield, and James Lafayette. 

Jahaziel later married Sarah Tate - more on this in a bit. After Sarah died, he married Lavinia, and after her death, he married Nancy Shemwatter.

In the book The Heritage of Warren County, Tennessee, in the section about the Tate family, there's the following information about Jahaziel: Jahaziel married 1st Jane Lockhart and had Andrew,John, and James before leaving his Tennessee family and marrying his first cousin, Sarah Tate, in DeKalb County, Alabama (p.337).

See, I told you there was more on this in a bit about Sarah Tate. Her father was Aaron Tate, brother to James Tate who was Jahaziel's father.

Next, there was the book Tate Families of Southern States written by Metzel and Updike and published in 1984. In that book was listed the following:

Jahaziel married four times: (1) to a bride of whom we know little, except she died early leaving three sons, Andrew J., John S., and James Tate who were living with the Samuel Dykes' family in the 1850 Census of Grundy County, TN. Possibly the Dykes family were the grandparents of them since rural people always find room for their own kin. He was married to (2) Sarah A. Tate, on October 18, 1839 by Justice of the Peace, W. F. Mooney (M. P. 1837 - 7, 8 and 9). She was bon 1821, age 29 on the 1850 Census of Warren County, TN and died on January 28, 1852 in Pulaski County, AR. Her family was opposed to the marriage. They, however, eloped and settled near Little Rock, Pulaski County, AR. He married (3) Lavinia "Vina" who was born in 1810 in MS. He married (4) Nancy who was born April 5, 1824 in Hinds County, TX; she died on December 7, 1893 in Poetry, TX.

Now, if you read the italicized section in the fourth paragraph above, you know that Jahaziel and Sarah were first cousins, which would explain why her family was opposed to the marriage. Metzel and Updike failed to mention this little fact. Perhaps they didn't know Jahaziel and Sarah were first cousins, or perhaps they didn't want to mention this in their book. Either possibility is a good way.

The proof is in the pudding: Jahaziel and Sarah were first cousins which is obviously why her family didn't want them marrying.

Now, there are a few other errors in Metzel and Updikes telling of the life of Jahazeil Tate. First and foremost, I want to point out that they most likely did not have access to the information I have when they wrote their book. The Internet was in infancy stage in 1984. They were doing genealogy old school style. For all they knew, because Jahaziel remarried, was that Jane died.

This is incorrect. Jahaziel and Jane divorced and he abandoned his family in Tennessee. 

"A bride of whom we know little about" is true, in the fact that they knew little about her, however the Tate researcher who provided the information on the Tate family for the book The Heritage of Warren County, Tennessee was a Tate and had access to more information than Metzel and Updike, which is why he knew that Jahaziel married Jane Lockhart . . . and left his family in Tennessee.

Samuel Dykes is not Samuel, but Sander Dykes who . . . married Jane Lockhart-Tate, which is why Andrew, John, and James were living with Sanders and Jane Dykes, and their three children Calhoun, Sanders Jr., and Mary 1850 in Grundy County, Tennessee.

Samuel from Sanders is an easy error, and one many people, myself included, have made when looking at the actual Census Records. I viewed the 1850 Census Record and can see how they made that error. It happens. 

Metzel and Updike also did not know Jane's last name, or first name, but I did based on the information found in the book about Warren County, Tennessee.

Now, in trying to figure out this little mess, another Tate researcher and I began exchanging emails. The first thing we both did was go to the 1850 Grundy County Census Record, at which point we both came to the same conclusion: the reason Andrew, John, and James were living with Sanders Dykes was because their mother had married him. Sanders was not their grandfather, but their step-father. The second step was trying to find death records for Calhoun Dykes, Sanders Dykes, and Mary A. Dykes. We found Calhoun Dykes death certificate which listed his father as Sanders Dykes and his mother as Lockhart!

At this point, we had found the proof in the proverbial pudding. 

So, when you have a family story, or a genealogical book with a family history, and things don't make sense . . . do some digging on your own. Remember, whoever wrote the story or genealogy in the first place, probably didn't have access to the information readily available to modern day researchers. They could only use what they had back when they wrote the story . . . or put the family genealogy in written format.

Metzle and Updike utilized the information available to them in the 1980s when they put together their book. They didn't have access to the family stories that stated Jahaziel "married 1st Jane Lockhart and had Andrew, John and James before leaving his Tennessee family and marrying his first cousin, Sarah Tate in DeKalb County, AL. All Metzel and Updike knew at the time they were putting their book together was that Jahaziel had been previously married and remarried a second time. They assumed - always a dangerous thing to do, but happens more often than not - that because Jahaziel remarried, his first wife had died. Divorce wasn't so common in the early 1800s as it is today.

So, this post isn't in any way a criticism of their work, but rather a cautionary tale for modern day family historians to prove the family story or family tree you find when doing your research. It's easy enough to accept what is out there as 100% documented, but . . . the sad fact is, the information is not always 100% documented. To be true to your family tree, you need to prove and/or disprove it for yourself.

So, when dancing with the ancestors, know that the proof is in the pudding, and it's up to you to find the truth!!

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