MPG Study Group 2 Chapter 4 Homework: Practice! Practice! Practice!

MPG Study Group 2 Chapter 4 Homework

Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones
Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones

My Chapter Four Homework Assignment



Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. [Book available from the publisher at ]

“Dear Myrtle’s” Mastering Genealogical Proof 2 Study Group


Practice, Practice, Practice!!!


I love Thomas W. Jones approach to teaching us in his book, Mastering Genealogical Proof (MGP). He uses the “Math Book” approach. Do you remember back in school how you would read the chapter, answered the questions at the end and were able to review your answers in the back of the book? That is his approach. The KEY was to practice what you read until it became second nature to you.


Chapter four was one of those challenging practice session that I couldn’t grasp right away. Math was never my strong point even in school. They teased my I couldn’t add 1 +1 and come up with 2 unless it was in the metric system. I did learn at my own pace with PRACTICE, PRACTICE and ore PRACTICE. That is what I did with chapter four in MGP. It didn’t help that I was dealing with the springtime “bug” that was circulating in my neighborhood; making it more difficult to concentrate.  I did learn. Here is my take on what I learned.


Dr. Jones reminds us in each chapter the importance of remembering the basic and must have reasons for citations; Support your genealogical proof summary by:


  1. Reasonably exhaustive search of all available records, newspapers, Bibles and any other sources you can think of
  2. Use the less error prone, original or as close to original source, as possible
  3. Cite all components positive or “negative” you have searched
  4. Use a narrative whenever possible to explain your findings.


When you first cite a source you use the long form of genealogical citation. Later sources can be cited with the short form. Does that sound confusing? It did to me until I learned this trick.

(Remember this in my take on how to cite my source as I have read this chapter. I welcome any feedback that what I have preserved is correct or needs further tweaking. After all the purpose of this Study Group is to learn from our mistakes until it becomes second nature for us.)

Dr. Jones teaches us the importance of answering five questions regardless if published or unpublished:

Who: author, compiler, or note taker

What: Title of the source, book, Bible, Newspaper, Journal article, etc.

When: Date of creation

Where is: Where did you find the source, repository, newspaper, online, etc.

Where in: Where is it located in the source; page, web address or is it not noted


My trick to distinguish between long and short citations and Reference/source lists is as follows:


For Published Sources

The long form answers all five questions, used when you first cite a source answering all five questions in the order listed above: Who, What, When, Where is and Where in.

(Willis M. Kemper, Genealogy of the Kemper Family: Descendants of John Kemper of Virginia, 1899 Chicago: George K. Hazlitt, page 79)

The short form is used for later citations of the source answering three of the five questions; Who, What, and Where in.

(Kemper, Genealogy of the Kemper Family, 79.)

The long form minus the page number is used for source lists answering four of the five questions: Who, What, When, Where is.

(Kemper, Willis M., Genealogy of the Kemper Family: Descendants of John Kemper of Virginia. Chicago: Geo. K. Hazlitt, 1899)


The above citations are for published sources. If the source is unpublished the same five questions are required but in a different order.


Unpublished Sources

The long form answers all five questions, used when you first cite a source answering all five questions in the order: Who, What, When, Where in and Where is

(Willis M. Kemper, Genealogy of the Kemper Family: Descendants of John Kemper of Virginia, 1899, page 79, Chicago: George K. Hazlitt.)

The short form answers the questions; Who, What, When in, the same as for published sources:

(Kemper, Genealogy of the Kemper Family, page 79)


The source list citation can be listed several ways answering questions Who, What and where is; Where, what, when and where is; or What and Where is.

The bottom line is; If you use a source do the best you can in making a citation to answer the five questions. If someone who follows your work can find it you have done your job.

On the other hand, all sources that will be published for a scholarly journal require you follow the Genealogical Standards for Citations that Dr. Jones has mentioned in his book. I personally would seek help from a professional.


It doesn’t matter what type of source you have, journal, book, authored, unpublished, websites or interviews; ALL require that you try to answer the five questions of citations. Not all sources will have answers for t all five questions; you answer the questions you can.


Practice! Practice! Practice is the best way to become comfortable with source citation. I am still at the practice stage. I may always be there but that is okay with me because I am citing my sources to the best of my ability. When it is time to publish my work I will seek help from a Genealogy Professional who is proficient in Source Citation.



Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. [Book available from the publisher at ] , Chapter 4, Appendix A and Appendix B.


Dear Myrtle’s” Mastering Genealogical Proof 2 Study Group, 30 March 2014,


Stale Bread, Fading Sweet Peppers, and Chopped Onions makes what?

Stuffed Peppers and Squash

My local grocery store is only quarter mile down the road. I like to shop the clearance racks before planning my meals for the day or the week depending on what I find. I last blogged about the Vegetable Stew, Stuffed Mushrooms and Chili. Yesterday I found Sweet Green and Red Peppers for .99 cents. I purchased two packages providing me with four peppers. I sliced one package of the sweet peppers yesterday for dipping into my Tahini. I still have some slices left for the week.
Todays purchased included a whole chicken for $ 2.50, two pounds of Riblets for $2.00 (both in the freezer for another day,) two bags of Goose Valley Rice and Bean Fusion for 1.00 each and two pound “Fresh” Strawberries $1.99/package. My total purchase for these items was $7.49; include the sweet peppers from yesterday a grand total of $9.49.

Now the major decision; what will I make with these items. I washed and slice the strawberries in half. Packaged them into one cup serving containers for my husband lunches. I looked into the refrigerator to see what I had for leftovers. I found, one cooked chicken sausage, one third cup chopped onions and a half loaf of stale bread.
My first thought was stuffed peppers using the two remaining peppers, one package of the rice and bean fusion and the leftover onions for my half. I added the chopped chicken sausage to the other half.
Add three cups of water the rice and bean mixture, three ginger Chai tea bags and a dash of ginger honey vinegar (or spices to taste) to a saucepot, bring to boil. Remove tea bags. Cover and turn heat down to simmer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chai Tea, Rice and Beans

Cut the tops off the peppers, set aside, remove pulp, and discard. Cut large peppers in half place each half in a ramekin. Cut the good part of the pepper from the tops and dice.

Sweet Bell Peppers

Add the diced sweet peppers and diced onions to 1 teaspoon of butter and one swirl around the fry pan with olive oil.

Saute Peppers and Onions

Sauté until al dente. Remove from heat. Dice cooked chicken sausage set aside.

Chopped Chicken Sausage

Drain rice and bean mixture; let set for 5 minute. Fluff mixture.

Rice and Bean Mixture

Add vegetables to rice and bean mixture. Fill two halves of the peppers with mixture.

Rice, Beans and Vegetables

Add chopped chicken sausage to the other half of the rice and beans. Fill the remaining two peppers. Set any leftovers aside, for now.

Rice, Beans, Vegetables and Chicken Sausage

Place the pepper filled ramekins into the pan you used to sauté the vegetables. I added a half cup of frozen squash I had on hand to roast with the stuffed peppers. Cover. Place in the preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes. If serving immediately cook until fork tender. If going to be re-heated cook until the fork meets resistance. This will prevent over cooked stuffed peppers. Squash should be fork tender, as well.

Ready to Bake

Now to use the stale bread and remaining rice and bean mixture.

I had six slices of stale bread; two of which were the end pieces. Remove crust of four slices of bread, as shown in photograph. Set crust aside. Flatten each slice of bread. Place once teaspoonful of rice mixture in center of bread. Fold bread in half. Place them in the non-stick portion controlled brownie pan. If you don’t have a portioned control brownie pan use a cookie sheet.


Take the two end pieces and reserved crust; cube them into quarter to half inches pieces depending on what type of container you are cooking them in.

Bread cubed

In a separate mixing bowl combine two cups milk, (I use almond milk,) and four slightly beaten eggs. Add one teaspoon vanilla, fourth cup good old grade a maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spice (your spice of choice here). I like the pumpkin pie spice because it has mace, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in the mix. Mix the ingredients until well blended. Set aside.

Bread pudding base

Add the cubed pieces of bread to the portioned control brownie pan. It can over fill a bit because with the milk mixture is added the bread absorbs it and shrinks down.  Carefully pour the milk mixture into each section, until the bread stops absorbing it. I sprinkle Craisins on top (you can use raisins.) If you have leftover milk mixture pour it into vegetable sprayed ramekins.  Sprinkle a little pumpkin pie spice on the top pf the bread pudding and custard mixture. Place the brownie pan and ramekins onto a cookie sheet that has a little water covering the bottom.

Ready to bake bread pudding

Today’s meals for $1.99, leftovers and pantry staples provides four servings of stuffed peppers; four servings stuffed sandwiches, eight servings bread puddings and three serving of custards. Squash for another meal or as side dish with Stuffed peppers.

Rice and bean stuffed sandwiches with Tahini and sliced Sweet Green Peppers


Stuffed sandwich



Bread pudding with Craisins yogurt purée and sliced strawberries.

Bread Pudding with Craisin puree



Stuffed Sweet pepper with side of roasted squash.

Stuffed Peppers with squash

The original recipes were my mother’s Shirley Beatrice Stearns, tweaked by me, June Stearns Butka. My tweaks are in parenthesis. I also use the portioned controlled pan for cooking. I reduce the time by about ten minutes and add more cooking time if needed.

I hope a future descendant or two of mine find these recipes. Make them and adjust them to their taste with my best wishes and love.


Butka, June Lee Stearns, Reeds Ferry Historic District, Merrimack, New Hampshire. 11 Mar 2014

MPG Study Group 2 Chapter 3 Homework: One source that packs a punch in ancestral research

Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones
Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones

Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group 2

My Chapter Three Homework Assignment


Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. [Book available from the publisher at ]

“Dear Myrtle’s” Mastering Genealogical Proof 2 Study Group

One source that packs a punch in ancestral research

The third Chapter in Dr. Jones book, Mastering Genealogical Proof,  is about accurate and through research.  Our 9 Mar 2014 Chapter 3 discussion on Dear Myrtle’s MPG Study Group 2, reminded me of when I started my family research. I didn’t have a computer back then, most families didn’t, that was something businesses had. We know about typewriters, yet only those who went into business were allowed to enter classes on how to use them. If you were college bound, you were out of luck. Longhand was your only way to record you information.

Where do you find that information is the key?

Early years: I had the family stories, traditions, at that time I had accesses to the family Bible, letters and marriage records of my parents. We have since lost most of the originals in two separate fires. Replacements were obtained at the local level in New Hampshire. My parents went to the town of birth for themselves and some of the children.  Slight problem, the town hall had burned, their records were lost. Resolution the town clerk at the time remembered my parent’s birth. My father’s aunt also verified his birth. My mother second verification was her brother. The children’s verification were our parents, aunt and uncle.  Replacement certificates were obtained. (It was a small rural community in the north-central-west side of the state. It was a typical everyone know everyone type of community.) Enough about me and some challenges of obtaining birth records.

Intermediate years: Jump ahead twenty eight years. We know have dial up computers, with some information on my ancestors. I found I had more information than they did. Not a viable resource for me. I went to my local library or should I say libraries. I had to go to each town my ancestors lived in to read the town records that were housed there. The town hall didn’t release them when I visited until later when I had written permission from the matriarch or patriarch in the families (Dad and Mom’s side). I was lucky, most of my records were in New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. Not so lucky the Maine locations to great a distance for me.  I had marriage, moved to New Jersey and started a family.  Mom and Dad had another fire, more records lost. So distance, time and lost opportunities were all road little bumps in the road to my research.

Present Day: Technology has arrived with all its bells and whistles. I’m learning more of how to fully mine that technology for useful information. Here is how I start my research, today.  From the comfort of my home, after getting a free local library membership. The reference librarian instructed me in what online websites were available that can be accessed at the library or from home; the inter library lending options, especially town histories, and several books already at my local library.

This blog is about one of those library resources that can be used either at the library or from home, called Heritage Quest. I love this site because it offers multiple ways to piece together your family records from the comfort of your computer login. Just a reminder not all my research is done on line. I still go to the local towns for the originals records, the state archives for court and other documents housed there.

I gather all findable records which include at least two originals with separate independent informants about my ancestor. It is like a puzzle that needs the outer frame for a strong start, followed by filling in the center with each piece that matches and securely intertwines until we see the complete picture it provides.

  1. I see what I have for documentation on hand.
  2. I write my focus question that will answer what information I am missing. Caution one focus question at a time. Write down the other questions for later research to keep yourself of task of completing your puzzle.
  3. Login into the library Heritage Quest Program
  4. Check census records, mine it for all its information, family members, neighbors, location, occupation and much more. You can search by name or browse by location. I do quick surname search followed by browsing the census year and town. This gives you a better understanding of how they fit into the community. Sometimes, due to misspelling a name does not appear with the quick search. Don’t forget to cite what and where you found your information.
  5. I take nothing at face value, they are just clues to the next piece of the puzzle.
  6. Books are my next step, especially town histories. Heritage Quest Books allows you to look up by People, Place or Publication, if known. It gives you the options to sort by relevance, author, title and publication. You can refine your search. Start board (surname), refine from there by adding keywords, town, state, Christian name, etc. I sort my relevancy. I look at the hits, view image, table of contents to see if this is a book I want to continue with for this ancestor I am researching. Don’t get off focus. Write down the information if you believe it is for another ancestor for later review. Write the source, page, person, repository or website for late use.
  7. Next stop is the PERSI Archive. You can research by Person, Places, How To’s and periodicals. There are multiple search fields (a plethora of information here)
    1. All
    2. Biography
    3. Cemeteries
    4. Census Records
    5. Church Records
    6. Court Records
    7. Deeds
    8. Directories
    9. History
    10. Institutions
    11. Land Records
    12. Maps
    13. Military Records
    14. Naturalization
    15. Obituaries
    16. Misc
    17. Passenger Lists
    18. Probate Records
    19. School Records
    20. Surname
    21. Freedman’s Bank: I doesn’t include all states. You can sort by surname, Given name, applicant name, branch state, Application year, Military information. Please search even if your ancestors’ state of residence isn’t listed. You may miss an ancestor from 1865-1874 by not searching.
    22. Revolutionary War Records: You can search by surname or  (not just the Rev War here)
      1. 4 Regiment Artillery
      2. Armand’s Corps
      3. Artillery Artificers
      4. CAN(Canada)
      5. CONT(Continental)
      6. Engineers
      7. FR(France)
      8. Foreign
      9. General Hospital
      10. GER(Germany)
      11. Hazen’s Regiment
      12. IN(Indian War)
      13. Invalid Corps
      14. Lee’s  Legion
      15. Military Hospital
      16. Navy
      17. SCT (Scotland)
      18. Sea Service
      19. Von Heer’s Corps
      20. War of 1812
      21. U.S. Serial Set: Search in the Memorials, Petitions and Private Relief Actions of the U.S. Congress by people or places.
      22. Heritage Quest keeps a search history for you that you can refer back to prevent duplicate searches.
      23. Learning Center is a new addition to Heritage Quest that lessons on how to research your ancestors.  It has three categories:
        1. Beginners
        2. Intermediate
        3. Advanced

Heritage Quest is just one resource that provides multiple links to different types of records needed in that reasonable exhaustive search that Dr. Jones speaks of in his book “Mastering Genealogical Proof.

I just noticed that Heritage Quest Learning Center page is distributed by ProQuest and Powered by Family Search I’m not sure how to cite this information, so I am making note of it here. (Copyright © 1999-2014 ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions.    v2014.

I have, to the best of my current abilities, provided citations of my sources. I plan to return when I have learned how to properly write my source citations according to GPS in Dear Myrtle’s MGP Study Group 2, following Thomas W. Jones book Mastering Genealogical Proof.


Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. [Book available from the publisher at ]

“Dear Myrtle’s” Mastering Genealogical Proof 2 Study Group

Heritage Quest, institutional sign in (Library) n.d. last accessed 9 Mar 2014 by June Stearns Butka

Here are just two videos from the ‘Learning Center of Heritage Quest,” both are at the beginners level. There are two more beginners video listed; one from the Allen County Public Library and the second from Pam L. Smith

  1. Jones, Tom: “Principles for Beginning Genealogist,” Heritage Quest Learning Center. n.d. last accessed 9 Mar 2014 by June Stearns Butka
  2. “Ancestors Lesson Getting Started.” Family Search.  On line video lesson. n.d. Web last accessed by June Stearns Butka 9 mar 2014

Other resources you will find useful in your genealogical research that. This is not a complete list, by any means, just a brief view of what in my ancestral journey.

  1. Red book at,_County,_and_Town_Sources
  2. Cyndi’s list

What’s for Lunch?

What is a person to do with Stale Italian Bread

Stale Italian Bread

Two Tablespoons of Tahini Spread

Tahini Spread

Four lonely Cherry Tomatoes

Lonely Cherry Tomatoes

1/3 cup of Grated Cheese

Grated Cheese

And a solo Sweet Yellow Pepper

Italian Bread Pizza

You make a Pizza, of Course.

Nothing goes to waste if I can help it.

This may not be a typical genealogy post; I know if I was a descendant and I found one of my ancestors recipes that showed creativity, thriftiness and something I could try. I would be doing the Happy Dance.

What would you do?

Here is my citation for future generations.

Recipes created by June Stearns Butka on 7 march 2014 to utilize what was found in her refrigerator when deciding what to have for lunch.

Her residence at the time was the Historical Reeds Ferry District, Merrimack, New Hampshire.

Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group 2: Chapter 2 Homework

Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones
Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones

Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group 2

My Chapter Two Homework Assignment


Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. [Book available from the publisher at ]

“Dear Myrtle’s” Mastering Genealogical Proof 2 Study Group

Chapter 2 homework involves answering 18 questions. To protect the copyright of Dr. Jones’s book, I am going to answer those questions in my own manner. After all isn’t the purpose of learning to make the new learned knowledge your own? To be comfortable with what you acquired and put it into practice. I hope Dr. Jones understands why I am presenting his material in this manner. I will strive to bring out his key points, as I see them, in the most accurate, creditable and as close to the original as copy write issues will allow. If someone notices an error in my information, please provide a comment with your source and reason why. I will re-evaluate and address all those issues as I would in any genealogical research I would do. I hope my manner of presenting will also help anyone who is struggling to understand Dr. Jones approach to genealogy research.

In preparing to do my homework for Chapter 2, I listened to an interview with Dr. Thomas Jones given by Jane Wilcox of Blog Talk Radio “Forget Me Not Hour” on 19 June 2013 about his book Mastering Genealogical Proof.

The discussion included how the book best aids adult in learning the material. Adults learn in three ways; Visual, Doing and Comparing.

Visual is done by reading the book.

Doing is completing the homework assignments.

Comparing your homework answers to his answers in the back of the book meet the third criteria.

Dr. Jones remains us that no matter what type of research you are doing one of the most important approaches is to answer a focus Question. It can be one of five questions; known as the 5 W’s. They are Who, What, When, Where and Where.

In genealogy research the focus question is broken down to one of three categories, relationship, identity, and activity.   Asking a focus question will guide you in your research with more ease and less drifting off the subject. If the question is too board you are inundated with more information to filter through before you find the correct answer. On the other hand if it is to narrow you will lose information that is important in answering the question accurately. You can add supporting questions to aid in your research.

One focus question in research would be about identifying Mr. ________; “Who are the parents of ______  ______ that died 1811-1812 in Montgomery County, Kentucky? Some supporting questions would include; who his siblings are; who are his neighbors or close contacts, where did he live when he was paying taxes, or what information was found in his will that would be useful in identifying his family.

Focus questions along with supporting questions can help aid in distinguishing between families that may have the same name. Yet they can also aid in determining that maybe they are not three separate people but the same person.

Who are the parents of John Smith who married Jane Doe in Muskegon, Michigan, in 1871, and what became of him after their divorce. Records also have a John Smith that married a different woman in a different state. How do we know he is the same person? We need to chart familiar relationships of the two men; parents, children; neighbors; where lived, what years lived in those areas, why relocate, what is happening in the community at the time that would affect any decisions made? Do you see the emergence of the five “W” questions? (One focus question with supporting questions?)

Making a timeline provides guidance in answering some of those five W’s. War, Health, Religion, family disagreements all come into consideration when evaluating and analyzing a person’s life.

Different sources and record types need to be researched. The informant of those resources helps validity or question the accuracy of those same sources. What reason does the informant have for providing “false” information? Does the informant want to cover up an early birth, or maybe a marriage before an official divorce, are two examples of why the “false” information would be provided. Dr. Jones goes into great detail in determining each “man.”

His homework makes us practice finding the questions that he answered in his research. Questions like;

“Who are the parents of_________ residing in ___________, ____________, who married______________ in the year__________.?

Who is the husband of ______________?

Were ________________, _______________, and _______________ the same person?

What happened to_________________ after the divorce_______________ from ____________in the year________?

When writing a research question for your “bump in the road’ person (some call it a brick wall) you need to keep in mind relationships, individual identity and the activity of the person you are researching. What that person does, who the friends and family are and what community participation will help narrow the field to the correct family member you are researching

Keeping that criteria in mind I have created five research questions for my “bump in the road” person, Alonzo Chase.

  1. Who were the parents of Alonzo Chase, born Hopkinton, New Hampshire in the year 1835?
  2. What year did he marry Kate E Colby of Warner, New Hampshire?
  3. Where did Alonzo and Kate resided when their daughter, Clara Jane, my great grandmother, was born?
  4. Which Alonzo Chase residing in Merrimack County, New Hampshire in the 1860 Untied States Census would become Kate E Colby’s husband?
  5. What branch of service, if any, did Alonzo Chase, who resided in Hopkinton, New Hampshire in 1860 provide?

When researching it is important to understand the need for different types of resources; original, authored and records. Every source is open to error, but the closer to the original and time of the event you are there is less chance of errors.

Dr. Jones mentions an “exhaustive” list of sources in his Appendix A and B for each Research Client. This is a reminder to us of the need to seek different types of sources in our research before concluding that the family member found is “our Family member.” He wants us to become comfortable in identifying the different types of resources. His homework aids us identifying each type.

When we are looking at “Authored work’ we are seeking resources that provide the authors own conclusion. Family genealogies, town histories, and Dr. Jones own book “Merging Identities Properly: Jonathan Tucker Demonstrates the Technique” are just a few authored works.

United States Census, Tax Books, parish Records, Personal Property Tax list, the annual inventory of early colonists are examples of “original works.”

“Derivative works” would include any transcriptions of the original hand written document, it could be posted to a blog, used in your own notes, or you notice the same handwriting for all entries into a family Bible decades after the fact.

Dr. Jones continuously reminds us of the importance of utilizing the original primary information verses secondary information to reduce the risk of errors. The further from the original the transcription becomes the more at risk for error. Not even the original is exempt from error, but it is less prone than each future generation of the document transcription., and other genealogy research site provide us with “clues” to our family records. When you see the record, you believe to be your ancestor, the first thing you should do is order the original. When the document arrives mine it for all it is worth. Birth certificates, death certificates, land deeds, and wills, to list a few, all provide information from what Elizabeth Shown Mills refers to as the F.A.N Club(Family, associates, neighbors.) Many times they are family members or people who help identify your ancestor in that location and time. A good example would be a notation “next friend” in a court document usually meant relative such as father, brother, cousin, etc. Another example would be on a Bond record. Most people, unless they are related to you, would not post a bond involving money.

While looking at the documents you need to recognize if they are “Primary” or “Secondary,” who was the “informant” and type of source. The importance of each of these provides the validity, strength or weakness of the source information.

Primary sources are the strongest where secondary may provide useful information and can be use when no other source is available.

Information we are looking for include occupation, reason someone gets married, number of children, who was subpoenaed, date of death, date of birth are just a few. The source for these could be court records (primary), interview of a family member (secondary), family Bible entries written by the mother (primary), death certificate with the informant as a family member (secondary), War pensions listing children can be either (primary or secondary) depending who the informant was. Mother of the children is primary, an estranged family member secondary.

Other information that is important to seek is: Where someone lived during a certain time, did they pay taxes (property or personal), who are their heirs, when were the christened. Source for this information would possibly be Tax books from the county or town, Deed books listing the property ownership and location, a Parish register could tell who the parents are. Remember that if your “focus question” is not answered from the sources more research is need until you find your answer (exhaustive search), that is when you are done until new evidence is found.

Now, the twist in our research. You haven’t found “direct evidence” of your family member. You have several sources, when combined, confirm who they are, not just one.  It implies that it is the same person/s. The census for several consecutive years list your family member, land deeds list the person as a neighbor to another family member or maybe he is on the tax records for that town where you believe your family lived.

When “not direct (negative) evidence” answers your focus question, it is the absent of evidence itself that is the proof. John Smith was not on the 1810 Census for town “A” family members, yet a John Smith was listed in town “B” census as a family member.  This narrows down which family John Smith was a member of. Comparing and analysis is an important part of all research.


Remember the importance of all sources wither it is an original, authored, derivative work; was it a primary or secondary source; who was the informant, what reason would that informant redirect or provide incorrect information; was the informant not known; was it direct or indirect evidence that answered your focus question; was it tangible evidence or inferred; all need to answer your original Focus Question. You may use supporting question to answer your focus question keeping in mind the importance of Validity strength when doing so. Your Focus question needs to answer a relationship, activity or Identity.


  1. Jane Wilcox Blog Talk Radio “The Forget Me Not Hour” Dr. Thomas Jones interview, 19 June 2013;
  2. Reference:
  3. Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. [Book available from the publisher at ]
  4. “Dear Myrtle’s” Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group Chapter 1 HOA
  5. “Dear Myrtle’s” Mastering Genealogical Proof 2 Study Group
  6. : The following two links I found while preparing my homework. They were not in Dr. Jones book. It leads me to want to research them to find the link, if any to the Pritchet family mentioned in Dr. Jones book.

(wills )  (