Saturday, November 13, 2010


In our family there is surname of Oney. So when I found a woman listed as Oney Boggs, I thought I was on to something. Come to find out, her first name was Leona.

In a county history written in 1885, Levi Sperry identified his wife and children by name. However, he had gone through a contentious divorce and to get back at his wife Nancy, he had omitted Nancy’s name in the book and instead inserted the name of his first wife, Paulina, as if she were the mother of his four children.

Shad McGlothlin was kind of a slacker and tried to get out of civil war military service by saying his arm had been injured in battle. He served, and later received an invalid pension. Later the government found that as a teenager he had injured that arm while falling out of an apple tree. They came after him for repayment.

A written family history stated that Louise Corel McGee and family had gone to Texas, where she died in a storm. Her son Bob came once to visit her sister’s family in Kansas. It is true they went to Texas and that she had a son named Bob. But she certainly didn’t die in a storm. She lived a long life, dying of acute pulmonary congestion in 1922 at the age of 74 in Mercedes, Texas.

In this same family history, written in 1929, the writer said she was told her mother’s great-grandmother came to America as a “Tobacco Woman.” Since the Tobacco women actually came to America in the early 1600s, the writer was off by more than a few generations.

A family in Oregon, whose progenitor, Rebecca Carl Parman, died in childbirth shortly after coming over the Oregon Trail from Kansas, knew where her tombstone was. Rebecca’s husband had erected a large stone in her memory. The only thing was that Carl was not her maiden name. It was Corel, and pronounced the early Virginia way as Curl. The family was shocked and surprised.


Genealogy can be tricky. Nothing can be taken at face value. In the above examples, two are a story of deliberate deception (Levi and Shad). The other four are just faulty recollections, although all the parties thought they were telling the truth.

A big part of genealogy, often omitted by those who are just too anxious to construct their own family tree, is the necessity to do additional research to prove what has been said. How did I find out the truth in the stories above?

With Levi, his first wife was Paulina Dobbins, sister of my great-grandpa. I had followed Levi and Paulina from Illinois to Kansas, found the stones of her and two daughters. I had tracked Levi’s second marriage and subsequent divorce. So when I read his bio in the county history book, I saw the lie right away.

I sent to the National Archives for Shad McGlothin’s pension records. Because of the legal action, they were being held in San Diego at a VA repository, of all places, and I had to pay $40 for a copy of them.

Leona "Oney" Boggs turned out to not even be a relative, which I discovered when I found her death certificate.

The stories of Louise Corel, the tobacco women, and Rebecca Carl all came from the same source, a copy of which I had acquired in 1985. Louise took the longest to prove – about 25 years. But a Corel cousin who has turned into a fantastic genealogist found living relatives in Texas and we finally got the answer to what happened to Louise.

This is why there is never an end to genealogy. There is always more that can be found, and oh, so much that needs to be proved. It’s a shame to spend your time building a flimsy, unproved lineage. If you are one of those who just doesn’t understand what the big genealogy hoo-hah is about, then it seems ridiculous. But for those of us who are dedicated researchers, it is FUN, FUN, FUN! We may slow down, but we’ll never stop!

1 comment:

marciamayo said...

I'm just not detail oriented enough for genealogy. That's why I like family stories better where I can make up facts if I need to.