Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Not the Only One

If conflicting bits of information gleaned from public documents showed that even Perry County record keepers couldn't keep it straight about which Elizabeth was mother to which Mary Frances Gordon, I can't be too hard on myself for getting things wrong. After all, I was apparently in good company. The volunteers at Find A Grave were struggling over this same issue.

Granted, Find A Grave is a volunteer-driven organization. What we may sometimes feel are helpful links added by volunteers to an ancestor's burial record may turn out to not always be correct. Though Ancestry, as their host, seems to encourage wholesale acceptance of all entries on Find A Grave when they offer them up on "hints" to be added to one's tree, I've learned to view these with a critical eye. Some volunteers seem to get a bit carried away with their assumptions.

So, it will come as no surprise to you to learn that while the photograph for each Elizabeth's headstone clearly indicates a different woman—different dates, primarily, but also different middle names for their Gordon husbands—it was the volunteer-designated entry for each memorial that threw a curve into the search.

For instance, the Mary Frances whose mother died young, just after her sister Blanche was born, clearly had the older headstone. Besides, the engraving showed that this Elizabeth was "wife of T. V. Gordon." The headstone also emphasized her youth, stating that the woman died at the age of twenty four years and six months at her passing on January 6, 1887.

The headstone for the other Elizabeth was a much more recent engraving, and the style of the design is a clear visual affirmation of that. This Elizabeth, according to the engraving, was wife of Thomas R. Gordon, not Thomas V. Gordon. Her dates indicated a birth in 1843 and her death in 1919, about eight years after her husband's passing.

For the Elizabeth who passed in 1887, a volunteer has linked her memorial to those of her parents, stated at Find A Grave to be William McCabe and Catherine Pluck.

Ah, you think, So the other Elizabeth must be the one who was the McCann daughter.

If you drew that conclusion, apparently you did not share the same thought processes used by the volunteers who worked on these entries, for each of them was headlined with the name, "Elizabeth McCabe Gordon."

Whatever was used to arrive at that decision, I cannot tell from the Find A Grave records provided. But I certainly understand why there can be so much confusion out there about two similar family lines. Clearly, to get to the truth of the matter, we'll have to dig a bit more deeply to see what else can be uncovered about these parallel Gordon lines.

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