Too Many Sylvester Welches in Virginia! Untangling Same-Name Scenarios – Vic Dunn
SESSION: NGS2104-MET-01 TRACK: Methodology
When I first began researching my Welch ancestors in Fauquier County, Virginia, I quickly became confused because there seemed to be several men there with that name. I eventually confirmed my Sylvester Welch as a Revolutionary War pensioner. However, there was another Sylvester about the same age who often got undo credit for Rev War service. Additionally, a third Sylvester appeared in the Fauquier County records who was the age to be the father of both younger men, but which one was his son? I used several of the techniques discussed in this lecture to connect my Sylvester to his correct parents and also to untangle the numerous individuals sharing his name through three different counties in Virginia. I tallied ten different men with that name over a hundred-year period. Eventually, I was able to use my Sylvester as a gateway ancestor into the Jamestowne Society since I was able to determine that his second great-grandfather, John Downing, served as a Burgess for Northumberland County in 1693. However, after discovering numerous errors regarding the family, both online and in print, I began a mission to untangle other same-name Welch individuals.
My quest is not uncommon for most genealogists. Too many of our ancestors were not creative when naming their children and first names such as John, William, Mary, and Elizabeth are abound in our research. This frequently causes problems in determining which records to assign to a given individual. This lecture discusses effective techniques to untangle these individuals including comprehensive study of land records, tax lists, signatures, and timelines. Emphasis is put on studying each individual from birth to death to determine where he fits into the family unit. This lecture is recommended for all levels, particularly those with intermediate to advanced skills.
BIO: Vic Dunn, CG, is IGHR’s Virginia track coordinator. A Mosher Award recipient, he is past board member of BCG, NGS, and the Virginia Genealogical Society.
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