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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Assumptions or Working Theories - Which is Best?

Steve asked Olive Tree Genealogy a very good question about making assumptions from details on a census.
How can one determine the relationship of individuals on the 1860 census. On the 1860 hardy county va census, my great grandfather Thomas Wilson is placed below a Pamelia Wilson, and above that a Judy Wilson. Can I safely assume that Thomas is Pamelia's son born out of wedlock? 
Steve - This is an important question in genealogy. The short answer is "Absolutely not!"

You should never assume anything in genealogy research. You can however create what I call a Working Theory, based on the facts you have found.

Continue reading the rest of my answer at Olive Tree Genealogy blog


  1. My ancestors include (in the 1860 census) siblings living with their grandfather, because their father had died and their mother had remarried and "gone west." (Their maiden aunts took care of them and their granddad; by 1870 the girls were all married.)

  2. The 1860 enumerator for my home county in Mississippi had a problem keeping family groups straight. In many cases the dwelling/family numbers of the family were placed on the line with the last (and usually youngest) member of the previous family! This made for great confusion.