Sunday, April 24, 2016

Odd Coincidences in Genealogy

When dancing with the ancestors most people come across some odd coincidences. For me, the coincidences have been many and varied.

Who knew that my paternal and maternal lines connected way back when, far before either of my parents were born? My 6 x Paternal Great Grandfather is Daniel McPherson who was born about 1701, most likely in Scotland. He died in 1740 in Charles County, Maryland. A witness to his last will and testament was Susanna (McPherson) Nally . . . my 6 x Maternal Great Grandmother. She was either his sister or cousin, I haven't been able to determine the exact connection. Still, who knew that the McPherson surname was both maternal and paternal? I certainly didn't when I began dancing with the ancestors.

Then, was the recent discovery that my 7 x Paternal Great Grandparents Charles & Ann Dodson were witnesses to my 8 x Great Grandmother Eve (maiden name unknown)-Williams-Smith's last will and testament. Eve's daughter Catherine Williams married Abraham Goad. They were my 7 x Great Grandparents.

Now, with the Smith/Dodson connection, the lines both descend down to my Grandmother Osie Lee Smith-Mitchell. 

The Smith descent is . . .

Eve (MNU) - John Williams
Catherine Williams - Abraham Goad
John Goad - Katherine Jennings
Joannah Goad - Valentine Sevier
Abraham Sevier - Mary Little
Mary Ann Sevier - John Halterman
Emaline Halterman - Hardin Smith Lane
Martha Ann Lane - John Leonard Smith
Osie Lee Smith - John Francis Mitchell
Dad - Mom

The Dodson descent is . . .

Charles Joseph Dodson Sr. - Ann (maiden name not proven, alleged Elsmore)
Thomas Dodson - Mary Durham
Joshua Dodson - Ruth Dodson (his first cousin)
Dorcas Dodson - James Ballenger
Francis Ballenger - William Adcock
Rebecca Adcock - John Smith
John Leonard Smith - Martha Ann Lane
Osie Lee Smith - John Francis Mitchell
Dad - Mom

Both descents began in Virginia. Valentine and Joannah (Goad) Sevier eventually ended up in Carter County, Tennessee. John and Mary Ann (Sevier) Halterman ended up in White County, Tennessee which was later divided up into Warren County, Tennessee where my family ended up settling. 

The Dodson line was also in Virginia, but it was Joshua Dodson who ended up in North Carolina. His daughter Dorcas and her husband James Ballenger ended up in South Carolina, which is where their daughter Francis met and married William Adcock. Sometime after 1818, the majority of the Adcock family - William's father and most of his siblings and their families - ended up in Warren County, Tennessee. This is where Rebecca met and married John Smith. As a side note, part of Warren County became DeKalb County, which is where most of the Adcock family ended up.

So, as you can see, when dancing with the ancestors you just never know when two, or more, of your surnames connect. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Frances Ballenger (aka Ballinger)

When dancing with the ancestors there is a high probability that you will run across two people with the same name. See this post regarding Greenberry Mitchell-1 and Greenberry Mitchell-2, who most researchers combined - mistakenly - into one individual. Oy! In this instance, I'm referring to my 3 x Great Grandmother Frances Ballenger-Adcock. 

Frances is the daughter of James and Dorcas (Dodson) Ballenger/Ballinger, and sister to John, James, William, Edward, Elijah, Peggy (Margaret) and Tabitha. In her father's will, written in 1813 she is referenced as Francis Ballenger, while her sisters as referenced as Peggy Lewis and Tabitha Foster, their married names. So, in 1813 Frances was still unmarried. This is important.

In trying to research Frances Ballenger, daughter of James Ballenger and Dorcas Dodson very few people list her as the wife of William Adcock. Hmmmm . . . But, most sites list her as the husband of Isaac Bishop.

Well, a bit more research and I found that Isaac Bishop did indeed marry Frances Ballenger in 1797. Fine! Dandy! But wait . . . if she married him in 1797, why didn't her father mention her as Frances Bishop in his will? 

The obvious conclusion I'm going with at this moment is this: because she, the daughter of James and Dorcas, was not married in 1797. She was unmarried in 1813, so her father referred to her by her surname. The second obvious conclusion is that the Francis Ballenger who married Isaac Bishop was a cousin to the Francis Bishop who married William Adcock.

Yes, I know, genealogists everywhere are gasping in horror at my conclusions. 

I'd gasp too except . . . I have DNA connections to Thomas and Mary (Durham) Dodson, the grandparents of Dorcas Dodson who married James Ballenger. Yes, some genealogists are gasping even more.

The fact is: families used the same names throughout the various generations, especially back in the day. James and Edward were common names in the Ballenger family, as was Francis. In my Adcock line, all the children of Leonard Adcock named one of their children Leonard Adcock. The grandchildren did the same. A good example is this: Leonard Adcock's son, who married first unknown, named his first child Joseph Leonard Adcock. William's daughter, by his second wife Francis Ballenger, Rebecca Adcock named one of her children John Leonard Smith (this would be my great grandfather). Now all of John Leonard Smith's sons died at an early age. Realizing he would not have a male heir, my grandmother was named Osie Lee (for Leonard) Smith. I have one line where an ancestor - William Boarman - named a child by his first and second wife William. Then, there is my Duvall line where Mareen Duvall had two sons named Mareen - one by his first wife and one by his second. So, as you can see, naming patterns easily produce two individuals in a family with the same name.

The tricky part is separating out the various individuals into multiple people, as I did with Greenberry Mitchell, instead of perpetuating the myth that there was only one individual named Greenberry Mitchell . . . or Francis Ballenger. 

So, when dancing with the ancestors, just because you find it on the Internet, doesn't make it true. Yes, a Francis Ballenger did marry Isaac Bishop and have children with him. But that Francis Ballenger was not the daughter of James and Dorcas (Dodson) Ballenger.

Lazy Genealogists . . . AGAIN

When dancing with the ancestors you are going to come across research done by lazy genealogists. I've covered this topic before and probably will multiple times in the future.

Now, as stated before, back in the day before Google genealogy was much harder. Now, there's a ton of stuff online at Ancestry, FamilySearch and many other genealogy based websites. It's easier to find and prove, in most cases, what you need to find and prove.

In researching my Ballenger/Ballinger line . . . there appears to be more misinformation than facts. People seem to confuse the various James Ballenger/Ballinger's out there. It's frustrating.

They always seem to get the name of his wife correct and his children, but from there . . . it's a hodge-podge of misinformation. 

The James Ballenger/Ballinger that married Dorcas Dodson had the following children, as listed in his last will and testament: John, Edward, James, William, Elijah, Peggy, Francis and Tabitha. He lists his daughters that were married by their married names: Peggy Lewis and Tabitha Foster. He listed his unmarried daughter by her surname: Francis Ballenger.


Many sites list his daughter Frances, aka Frankie, as marrying Isaac Bishop in 1797. I'm sure there was a Francis Ballenger/Ballinger that married Isaac Bishop in 1797. It just doesn't happen to be the daughter of James and Dorcas (Dodson) Ballenger. If it was, James would have listed her as Francis Bishop in his last will and testament, and not as Francis Ballenger.

There is also the issue of James Ballenger, husband of Dorcas Dodson, death: 1795 versus 1813. The James Ballenger that married Dorcas Dodson and had John, Edward, James, William, Elijah, Peggy, Francis and Tabitha wrote his last will and testament on July 19, 1813. This would not be possible if he died in 1795.

Now, back in the day, researchers might not have been able to find the will. There where most likely multiple James Ballenger's and . . . researchers confused the two. Check out my post on the two Greenberry Mitchells. This was a simple case of two men with the same name living in the same county and early researchers confusing the two. It took me just a wee bit of time to actually separate the two men and sort out their various lives. 

As with any family back in the day, family names were used multiple times. MULTIPLE! James, Edward and William were common names in the Ballenger family. In my Adcock Line, every child of Leonard Adcock named one of their children Leonard Adcock. His grandchildren continued the tradition with their children. Many families did the same thing so that there were multiple people with the same first name and surname in the same area. Separating the various individuals is difficult under the best of circumstances, and close to impossible under the circumstances faced by early genealogists.

That does not excuse the lazy genealogists out there! Take some time to separate fact from fiction when dancing with the ancestors.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Proving Things for Yourself

When dancing with the ancestors you are going to come across family trees created by other researchers. As I've mentioned before, do not take those trees at face value and trust that the information you're finding is 100% correct. There's a chance it is 100% correct, but there's a greater chance it isn't. PROVE THE FACTS FOR YOURSELF!

Okay, now that I've SHOUTED at you, dear readers, on to this post which is about misinformation in online trees. Yes, it happens. It happens on a regular basis. It happens so often it is not even funny.

Now, in my dance with my ancestors, I've come across this misinformation time and time and time again. I come to expect it, rather than not expect it now.

Case in point: all the trees I've found for my 3 x Great Grandfather William Adcock list his wife as Francis Ballinger, daughter of James Ballinger and Dorcas Dodson. This is 100% correct. William Adcock did marry Francis Ballinger. No mystery there, except . . .

Francis Ballinger was the second wife of William Adcock!


Why is this important, you might be wondering? Well, in all the family trees I've found for William Adcock with Francis Ballinger as his wife, the following children are listed: Joseph Leonard (b. 1806), Jane (b. 1807), David (b. 1814), Francis (b. 1815), Rebecca (b. 1818 - she's my 2 x Great Grandmother), Martha (b. 1821) and Nancy (b. 1827).

For the longest time, I took these facts as presented: William and Francis (Ballinger) Adcock had 7 children. No problem.

Yeah, famous last words: no problem

The problem didn't happen until I discovered the last will and testament of 4 x Great Grandfather James Ballinger which was probated in August 1813. His will listed his wife and all his children, including the married names of his daughters. The kicker: his daughter Francis was referred to as Francis Ballinger and not Francis Adcock. 

The will was written on July 19, 1813, which means . . . Francis was not married at that time, therefore . . .

. . . she cannot be the mother of Joseph Leonard or Jane, and potentially not David because she did not marry William Adcock until sometime after July 19, 1813. AH-HAH!

But, every tree out there lists her as the only wife of William Adcock. This was an easy assumption to make . . . until you take into account the last will and testament of James Ballinger.

Then there is the second problem with trees, and this involves 4 x Great Grandfather James Ballenger: every single tree lists his date of death as 1795. Sons of the American Revolution applications lists his date of death as 1795 . . . and his wife as Dorcas Dodson.

Now, if you've been paying attention, you know that James Ballenger/Ballinger wrote his last will and testament on July 19, 1813. This is 18 years past his published date of death. He mentions his wife Dorcas in his will. So, either his a zombie, a vampire, or faked his own death . . . the misinformation about his date of death was never discovered or . . . lazy genealogists got the date from somewhere and kept on using it. I'm not sure which option applies.

So, when dancing with the ancestors take the time to research all avenues/angles and prove things for yourself. Do not take the easy, i.e., the lazy genealogist, way out and trust that the person before you crossed all the t's and dotted all the i's because there's an excellent chance they didn't!