Friday, August 24, 2012

Analyzing the Data

I wanted to do a very simple data analysis exercise to get you thinking deductively. For this analysis, we will be using my brick wall Lydia (Orr) Patton that was used as an example yesterday in the Research Calendar.

What can we deduce from the following facts?

  • On 14 Nov 1805, Lydia Orr received a draw in the 1805 Georgia Land Lottery because she was an orphan. Her land grant was in Oglethorpe County.
  • On 11 Feb 1806, Lydia Orr married Solomon Patton in Wilkes County, Georgia.
  • Her husband Solomon Patton died in 1811.
  • On 04 Jul 1814, Lydia Patton was granted guardianship of the minor children in Wilkes County.
  • There are no federal census records for the state of Georgia prior to 1820.
  • Unable to find Lydia in the 1820 census.
  • Lydia appears as head of household in Wilkes County in 1830. She is age 40 to 49.
  • Lydia is not found as head of household in 1840 nor is there a female of the right age in any of the households of her known children. She is also not found in the 1850 census.
  • Lydia does not appear in the Wilkes County will index under the name Lydia Patton. There are no Lydias listed at all.

We can deduce all kinds of things from this very limited list of facts. These deductions help guide you to the appropriate sources to meet your goals.

  • Since Lydia was listed as an orphan on 14 Nov 1805, we know that at the very least her father was deceased by this date and possibly her mother also. She would have also been eligible for a draw if her widowed mother had remarried.
  • We know that Orr is Lydia's maiden name. We didn't know that when all we had was her marriage record. She could have been married before. Now that we know that she was listed as an orphan in 1805, Orr is in fact her maiden name and not a first married name.
  • We can narrow her date of birth to between 1781-1790 [1830 census]. That puts her at age 16 to age 25 at the time of her marriage which is reasonable.
  • If Lydia remarried after her husband Solomon died, it had to have been after the 1830 census was taken. Since she is not found in the 1840, she has either died or remarried.
  • She received land in Oglethorpe County the year before she married in Wilkes County. It is likely that her parents had lived in Oglethorpe County before they died. These two counties are closely linked. Wilkes was formed from Oglethorpe County in 1790 which means any records prior to that would be found in Oglethorpe.

When you approach your data this way you narrow down the number of sources that will be helpful to you in your quest saving you a lot of time and effort. As you get new facts, you keep making deductive hypotheses to guide your research even further. The first thing that strikes me is that I need to start a new research calendar with the goal, "When did Lydia (Orr) Patton die?" I need to check the tax records for Wilkes County to see how far I can follow Lydia in time which will narrow down a possible death date. I also need to check the administrations in Wilkes County since there is no will listed in the index. And speaking of tax records, I need to add a task to my original calendar to see if there are any Orrs in the Oglethorpe tax records prior to 1805 which may lead me to a possible father for Lydia. I need to start checking deeds because we do know that she owned some land. Checking the deed books may also help me with my original goal to find Lydia's parents so this task will appear on both of my calendars. I could also start another calendar with the goal, "Did Lydia (Orr) Patton remarry?" You can see that research begats more research and all of this research can get jumbled up unless you use a systematic approach. It looks like I need to get started!

All the facts listed are sourced. I am still trying to figure out how to do footnotes correctly on the blog. If you want to know what my source is for anything just ask.

Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis

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