Thursday, June 02, 2011

What a Tangled Web We Weave :: Part One

While I was back in Indiana (the last 10 days of April) I got hooked on researching a very, very distant Joslin relative who just happened to have lived in southern Noble County, not far from where my Joslin ancestors had lived in Whitley County. And by “distant relative” I mean really distant. You have to go back to the 1635 immigrant, Thomas Joslin, to get to our common ancestor! Thomas would by my 10th great-grandfather. I did say distant relative, didn't I?

This is going to be too long for just one post, so yeah, it's gonna be presented in several parts. It's also going to get a little confusing. Hopefully I've un-confused it enough so you can at least follow the threads...

The saga begins back in January 2010 when I was contacted by JM. She came across the Joslin information I had posted here at Kinexxions and wondered if perhaps I knew anything about the parents of her ancestor George Washington Joslin. He had lived in Noble County, Indiana in the mid-1800s and married Matilda Winebrenner then moved to Kansas after the Civil War. She said his parents were reported to be Joseph R. Joslin and Almira White but the Noble County Website gives his mother's name as Amelia Gruttler in the transcription of his marriage record as well as that of his sister Ora. Also on the same website, the mother's name is given as Amelia Walker in a Probate Index Record for his brother Rodney Joslin.

Also, just to add to the confusion, there are several family trees on ancestry.com that give George W's parents as James and Abigail (Goodrich) Joslin. They are my ancestors and I was fairly certain they were not his parents.

There is a JR Joselin in the 1840 census for Noble County that seemed to be a good candidate. And the initials fit. As did the size of the family, according to the information given to me by JM.

There is quite a bit of data on that Noble County Website that provided additional clues and the site is a tremendous resource but it has a huge problem, at least to my way of thinking. When creating the various index listings or abstracting records or even transcribing obituaries, the spelling of surnames was “standardized” and information was added (especially to marriage indexes) that wasn't in the record. And there was no indication as to where the additional information came from. Sigh.

I knew that at the time of the marriages of George and his sister Ora (1861 and 1860, respectively) the names of the parents were not included in the marriage record itself and marriage applications did not begun until about 1882 and then even sporadically until 1907 when they were required by Indiana law. So where did the mother's name come from? No way of knowing since there was no tracking system to identify the the source of the “extra” data.

And that is why it is so very important to obtain the original record and to not depend entirely upon indexes and transcriptions! Sometimes it's not possible or feasible to get the original record, but the attempt should be made.

I was in Indiana the last week of January 2010, but just didn't have time to go to Albion to obtain copies of the various records. I passed on the little information I had and wished JM good luck in her quest.

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