When your research is not supported by sources, be careful how you publicly share your work. When finding on-line trees before you copy and paste information, please check to see what sources are available for this information and then check these sources for yourself. Not doing this could lead others down the wrong path that perpetuates incorrect information and could create years of false leads and continued research only to find all the work you have done, is for someone else’s family!
I have been spending time recently picking back up the search for my in-laws, the Gordon family, who lived in North Carolina and Virginia.
In the past when I was sharing what I was looking for I received emails with links to on-line trees and these were passed on with genuine sincerity, which I appreciate, but were a disappointment. There were so many repeated mistakes in these that I discounted most everything. I did take a few notes thinking there might be a grain or two of facts, but for the most part there were no sources or the sources given were too general to prove anything. Clear mistakes were made in even the simplest facts such as the name of a county or a birth date after a mother’s death date and these mistakes were repeated in many of these on line trees, showing that others had just copied without researching themselves.
So, back to the drawing board I went.
Starting with my husband’s grandfather, Joseph Francis Gordon, who according to his headstone lived 1863-1947. I began searching for the names of his parents; I was beginning to think that it was a lost cause. Ron knew very little of this side of his family and there was no one really to call on to ask questions. I had found him in the 1910, 1920 and 1930 census but not earlier. The census records show that he was born in North Carolina, but where? When did he move into Virginia?
Then last summer I was able to speak to an elderly Aunt in NC who recalled that her grandfather was a farmer and that when he could no longer run the farm, her father Joseph took it over as well as his own. Joseph was also an auctioneer for tobacco farms.
On a visit to the state archives last year I found Joseph’s marriage record in 1903 to Martha Ann Puryear. There was confirmation in the occupation story as it was given as “Tabacconist”, his parents named unfortunately with first initials only, F. and E. Gordon, and he was born in NC, but also recorded was a surprise, he was widowed at the time of this marriage.
I thought with that much information I should be able to find something more. As if I could magically make him appear now…..silly me, I know better.
So far I have been able to track Joseph from 1900 to his death 07 Nov 1947 at the home of his eldest son, from his first marriage, Peter Frank Gordon.
Including this 1940 census showing his youngest child, my mother-in-law.
Despite a 300 mile trip to cemeteries, libraries and even a great conversation with a town clerk, not much else has been found. I still do not know his birth date or where, or his parents given names. I have some leads, one that his father is Francis Gordon, possibly Benjamin Francis, another that his mother might be Elizabeth Moss or Hester. I am hoping the death certificate I have ordered will give me more detailed information.
But the facts are the facts, so far no supportive evidence has been shown as to who his parents were, his birth or any other early information and those trees on-line to an uninitiated researcher could prove to be quite a mess if the information is copied and shared again and again.
For Ron’s family this is my only missing line. I have gone back several generations for Martha Ann’s family and his father’s lines are well documented and books written. But the Gordon’s, well they are being secretive right now, but I will find their stories and tell them one day.