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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

When in Doubt Check the Original Record

Carrie asked .
My mother's father Ralph Gorman was 19 at the time of my mother's birth (1928) and is listed on the birth certificate as a taxidermist from Minnesota. My mother was born in Shawano/Mattoon, township of Almon, Wisconsin. Her mother was born in Minnesota in 1909. No other family members know any details either. So not knowing his parents or siblings, my brick wall seems permanent

Lorine Answers: Cariie, you asked a sensitive question so I've edited quite a bit of it for privacy reasons. A check of census records from 1910 on reveals no Ralph Gorman who fits your description. Variant spellings of Gorman did not pull anyone up that fits either.

So, I suggest you need to question if the name Ralph Gorman is correct. That leads to the question - did you consult an original birth registration for your mother or did you use a transcribed version? Because when in doubt you should always go back to the orginal to verify that the transcriber was correct. Perhaps his name was not Gorman but something similiar. Perhaps he had a middle name that he used interchangeably with Ralph. Perhaps his age is wrong ( there are Ralph Gormans of various ages in the census records). There are lots of possibilities for error and if you have been searching for 3 years with no results, it might be time to turn to the original and verify your facts. You may want to read "I Found My Great Great Grandfather Online -- Now What!!??? (Verifying Records Found On Webpages)" which explains about different "generations" of records and why it is so important to go back to the original record.

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