Today’s Tip: Thanks to President Ronald Reagan: “Trust, but verify!”
To me, no other simple phrase is more true in genealogy and family history!
While we can basically trust a Census record or Social Security application, we should most decidedly verify as well! We may simply find the same fact pattern over and over, but if we do, then we can trust it!
I was having trouble tracing a cousin of mine after he spent a stint in the prison system and then two in a mental asylum. I struggled and struggled until I found an ancillary reference of a family surname on what I thought was an unrelated death certificate.
It turns out that this cousin changed his name when he requested his original Social Security number! Back then you did not need a dozen documents to prove who you were, you just walked in, told the person, filled out the form, and got your number! Luckily he kept his mother’s name, birth date, his father’s given name, but just picked Miller as a new surname! Lucky for me that when he died …. a couple states away, his sisters claimed the body, brought it home and had him buried back in Cleveland. If I had not been able to verify with the documents from the funeral home and then the SSN application form, I might never have known the story.
So …. with special thanks to President Reagan, I say again “Trust, but verify!”
We are not talking nuclear treaties, but we are talking about our very precious family histories!
Onward To Our Past,