Am I drifting or doing Inferential Genealogy?


I am following the Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group presented my Dear Myrtles’ Genealogy Blog. The Mastering Genealogy Proof book is written by Dr. Thomas Jones who also has presented lessons on Inferential Genealogy that I have listened to in the past.  The term drifting has come up on each of our class discussions and on Mondays with Myrt.  Do I drift? The answer is yes. Is it productive? The answer is no, but like drifting in a Hot Air Balloon you see a Board angle. The angle is so board you can’t make out the individuals below until you come closer to land.  I sometime spend hours trying to find those drifting moments that gave me a clue I didn’t know I needed until later on in my search.  Do I do Inferential Genealogy? The answer is I make every effort to do so, but I am human.

I have written about the importance of following a lead in my own blog postings. I do not accept a single source as the truth until I have verified it with other sources. So how do I know that I am not drifting when I follow those other leads?

I will approach the answer by giving my definition of drifting.  Drifting is following a lead without purpose. I know I do drift and have drifted, especially when I first started doing my family history. I would find an interesting name or article while researching a certain surname and follow up on that intriguing item. I have no valued reasons to follow that lead other than it interested me. I sometimes would note the source but more often I would just read the article and return to my original search.  So drifting to me means following an interesting aside without purpose or record keeping.

Inferential Genealogy,  as I approach it,  means:

  1. I have a set goal establishing to identify a person or a relationship to that person.
  2. Like the board view you have with drifting, my research may bring me to asides like, location, neighbors, business acquaintances, family or friends or even to a different generation in time, but all are related to the original goal of identifying my person or relationship.
  3. I make every effort to record my sources. I note what the source provides me towards answering my research goal. Does it confirm or deny the information and why.
  4. I may have to research several types of document to reach that goal. I will be checking birth/death certificates, multiple years of census records, business records, land records, court records, letters, journals and maybe interviews with someone who knew the person or family. All the sources would provide clues, some more accurate than others, but all related to my main purpose.
  5. I will contrast and compare those sources to confirm or disprove my goal. If I see a conflict I will try to resolve it or discard with a notation as to why I did so.
  6. I remember my Nursing School instructor telling me the importance of not making assumptions without confirmation; Assume = Ass/u/me. That has stuck with me in whatever research or goal I set for myself. Who wants to be known as donkey rear-end? No me that is for sure.
  7. Finally I record my results to help others who follow me not to stumble into a roadblock, but easily follow a logical trail of events of the person in question.

The bottom line is, yes I still drift sometimes, but not as often. I mainly look for a specific goal; follow the leads to where they take me in regards to reaching that goal; confirm or discard information as needed; record the comparisons and conflicts; record the resolutions; record the final analyzed results. After an exhaustive search of the available information I can provide a well informed family member to add to my tree.

Another thought came to mind:  I follow the Genealogical Proof Standard in my Inferential Genealogy search.  A good practice to follow even if you don’t realize you are doing it because it is core to your process.



Traceable Thursday: Andrew Jackson visits New Hampshire

Andrew Jackson Visits New Hampshire
Andrew Jackson Visits New Hampshire

Andrew Jackson’s Visit

Just north of this point, on the

boundary between Bow and Concord

a large cavalcade of enthusiastic

citizens met President Jackson and

escorted him to New Hampshire’s

Capital. His official reception by

the State Government on the

following day, June 29, 1833, marked

the conclusion of a triumphal

 New England tour.

I was surprised that when I “Google” Andrew Jackson’s visit to New Hampshire, I received mainly links to the historical marker about his visit. There was a link to a well written article about his visit to Lowell, Massachusetts. I finally found a small tidbit on the visit in a book from the Federal Writer’s Project called “New Hampshire: A guide to the Granite State,” on page 463 regarding the chapter titled Tour 15 from Concord to Fitzburgh.  It seems that Hillsbourgh Historical Band was invited to play for President Jackson in Concord, New Hampshire. They enthusiastically traveled by wagons to Concord.

The book reads: “They traveled by wagons to Concord, gay in their uniforms of gray coats with bell buttons, black leather caps with plumes, and white pants. Reaching Concord at night, they struck up a lively tune and awoke General Pierce, who stormed and raved because they had disturbed his guest. President Jackson then laughed and invited them to a feast.”

I post this in honor of the 180th anniversary of President Andrew Jackson’s visit to New Hampshire on this coming Saturday 29 June 2013.

Felicity Friday: Happy Flag Day

Flag Saluting our Deploying Troops at Pease Air Force Reserved Base
Flag Saluting our Deploying Troops at Pease Air Force Reserved Base

This flag was hanging on the fence at Pease Air Base, Portsmouth, New Hampshire so that the deploying troops could see it as the departed the United States.


The Art of Manliness: How to fold a Flag is my Where in the State of Mom posting.

My son had the honor of being part of the Air Force Honor Guard during 2001. He showed me how to properly fold a flag. I am sharing that information with the help of the Art of Manliness website. Thank you.

Traceable Thursday: White-Water Men”

Log Drives on the Connecticut River
Log Drives on the Connecticut River

This Historical Log Drives on the Connecticut River Marker is located on Route 3  in Stratford, New Hampshire about two miles south of North Stratford.

For more information on Log Drives read the article from The Atlantic online: LOG DRIVE ON THE CONNECTICUT by Robert E. Pike.

Tombstone Tuesday: Hannah Nelson, No not that one the other one

Hannah Nelson Wife of Philip
Hannah Nelson
Wife of Philip



Wife of

Philip Nelson

Died April 16, 1831

In her 73, year

Virtue lies beyond the grave.


This grave marker does not tell Hannah’s full story. She was born 18 Oct 1758 in Sutton, New Hampshire to Moses Quimby and Judith Bean. Hannah married Philip Nelson 24 Oct 1776in Danville (Haverhill) Massachusetts. They settled in Sutton, New Hampshire. She was the mother of six children. She died 16 April 1831 in Sutton, New Hampshire.


I will post her husband, Philip Nelson and more information of their life in my next post.


Winsome Wednesday: Welcome to the Bay. Go home now. Don’t disembark.

Ann Vassal 1637
Ann Vassal 1637


“Go back to England. You would be better off with the King and his wife than here.” “Go to another Colony; Plymouth, New Hampshire or Connecticut. Do not stay here.” “I know that is not the welcome you expected.” “My name is Ann Vassal, I arrived in the colony on the Arbella in 1630 as part of the Winthrop Fleet. My husband and our family left on the Lyon almost immediately after arriving in the Massachusetts Bay Colony returning to England. The Lyon then brought us to the Plymouth Colony in 1634. We live in Scituate the year of our Lord 1637. If you came here for religious freedom, you will not find it here. A man had his ears cut off because he did not worship as the magistrate and minister of the Bay wanted. Others have been banished to Connecticut for their beliefs. I could go on listed many other examples, but I will stop now.”


This paraphrasing was how “Dissent Among the Puritans” began. This program was sponsored by the New Hampshire Humanities; held at Merrimack Public Library. It was described as:



Dissent Among the Puritans

The year is 1637. Ann Vassall, wife of William Vassall of Essex, England, one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Company, welcomes you to your new home in the Bay. Her words of advice and narration of events going on in town might make you wish you had stayed in England or looked toward New Hampshire or Connecticut as a place of settlement. Living historian Linda Palmer follows up her portrayal of Ann Vassall with a colorful slide presentation which shatters some of our commonly-held stereotypes about the Puritans and chronicles the dissent of her husband, who was despised by minister and magistrate alike for his liberal ideas about civil liberty and religion. This program is suitable for adults and teens. Registration is strongly advised. This event is presented with a grant from the NH Humanities Council.


Linda Palmer portrayed Ann Vassal with grace and intelligence. She provided us with a look at our founding fathers that was not sugar coated like our history books. I have read John Winthrop diaries, Ann Hutchinson’s writings and several other journals from the 17th Century. Like anything there are different points of view. Winthrop wanted to keep strong hold on the dissidents that come to the Bay to do the Lords work. He did not want to separate from the Church of England but to create changes from within. Others felt that Winthrop way was more restrictive than England’s. You could not vote if you were not a member of the church. John did not want the Quakers, Congregational or Unitarians in the Bay because they would cause confusion and unrest. Roger Williams, John Cotton and others felt that all should have the right to practice the freedom of religion.


The photograph of Ann Vassal/ Linda Palmer displayed her summer attire of linen and lace. We could appreciate that the clothes were cumbersome and uncomfortable in the summer heat. The night provided us with ninety degree weather and no air conditioning. We sat in the audience in our sleeveless summer outfits perspiring while she remained fully coverage as Ann Vassal. She did remove her hat at one point.


A night to remember of an entertaining and accurate account of history that shall remain in my thoughts to ponder and decide who in my family could survive if we travel to 1630’s America. What will I find when I continue researching those who came before us? Where did they go? Did they stay in the Bay? Go to New Hampshire? Maine? Connecticut?


Linda provides walking tours of 17th Century Boston as Ann Vassal.  “Where Did the Puritans Go?” I plan on taking that tour to hear more about the colony through Ann’s eyes.


My ancestors, Isaac Stearns and his family, are reported as having arrived on the Arbella in 1630. The same ship that Ann and William Vassal family most likely arrived on in the same year. They didn’t stay in Nameskeag (Salem, Massachusetts.) Instead they travel four miles up the Charles River establishing Watertowne. They followed Reverend Phillips, who stood alone in his beliefs of the Congregational way of practicing their faith until the Cotton Brothers arrived. This distancing them selves from John Winthrop, who settled in Boston, provided them with a semblance of freedom while maintaining the laws of the colony. Watertowne and the BostonChurch were the first two churches established July 1630 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.


Check out other presentations by Linda Palmer

Military Monday will return next week

Rev. Nelson Stearns  Ordination
Rev. Nelson Stearns

Family commitments have kept me busy with graduations, ordinations, birthdays and a family reunion. My body is saying rest time this week. I will return to posting after my rest and recuperation.

Those of you who have been following my blog know that I require these rest periods on occasion. You can slow things down but you can not fight hereditary.  I have posted in the past on several of my blogs about the importance of researching death certificates. The knowledge we gather provides us with health information that can aid in prevention, or at least awareness of inhererited diseases.  The old motto, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure.” This week is my ounce of prevention.

Happy Blogging everyone,

Dame Gussie