Monday, October 1, 2012

18 Days with Sherlock - Day 10 – Look at Your Ancestors Objectively

When you investigate your ancestors you need to keep an open mind. People commit crimes and they do immoral and unethical things. If you think your ancestors are incapable of this type of behavior then you will never become a good investigator. I have murderers in my file as well as people who were murdered. I have adulterous affairs and children born out of wedlock. I have a couple of men that were hanged including one man that was hanged who lived to tell about it. I have at least one woman of ill repute.

I recently found that a bastardy bond* was issued against my 5th great grandfather Solomon Patton in Wake County, North Carolina on 13 Feb 1787. Solomon was married and had a houseful of children at the time. So do I just ignore it because there is no way this could be MY ancestor or do I investigate it further to prove or disprove that this is in fact my Solomon Patton? I hope you know the answer to that question. History is what it is and you can't change it. Your job as a genealogist is to report it accurately and objectively.

“It is of the first importance not to allow your judgment to be biased by personal qualities. A client is to me a mere unit – a factor in a problem. The emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning.” [Holmes to Watson, "The Sign of the Four"]
*a bastardy bond is a court order requiring the father of an illegitimate child to promise to pay a set bond amount for the upkeep of the child, if it became necessary, so that the child does not become a burden on society.

Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis

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