Monday, October 15, 2012

The Importance of Estimating Dates and Adding Probable Locations

When at all possible, you should estimate your person of interest's birth, marriage, and death dates. You don't want someone in your file to have nothing but a name attached. You need approximate dates to lead you to possible records. Use what records you have to come up with these dates even if direct evidence documents don't exist.

Here are some real life examples:

  • George Seegar born before 1766 [based on land ownership records]
  • John McMichael, Sr. married about 1748 [based on the birth date of his oldest known child]
  • Sarah (Kimbrough) McMichael died between 11 Aug 1850 and 09 Jun 1860 [based on the census records]

You can also throw in a few places as well by using the term "of" and "most likely":

James Simmons, Sr. migrated from South Carolina to the Mississippi Territory between 1797 and 1801. Two of his known sons were born in South Carolina [1794 and 1797]. I have no direct or indirect evidence at this point to say that James was born in South Carolina but what I can say is, "James Simmons, Sr. of South Carolina, born 14 August 1764." That alerts the reader that I don't know if he was born in South Carolina but I can show that he lived there at one time.

"James C. Simmons married Celia Anna Yates about 1856, most likely in Perry County, Mississippi." In this case there are no marriage records for Perry County prior to 1877 [courthouse fire]. I have estimated their date of marriage based on the fact that their oldest known child was born 15 Jan 1857. James was living in Perry County in 1850 and in 1860 [census records]. Wife Celia was also living in Perry County in 1850 and 1860 [census records]. Even though I can't prove the marriage took place in Perry County, it most likely did.

You can use other qualifiers such as possibly and probably, depending on how sure you are of your hypothesis. Adding approximate dates and probable locations helps lead your research in the right direction for finding possible records. It also makes your research more readable and alive for anyone reading your work.

Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis

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