Tuesday, June 6, 2023

All I Wanted Was to See the Document


It's been a long search, trying to find appropriate documentation for the life of Mathias Ambrose, my mother-in-law's third great-grandfather. Sure, there are plenty of online resources talking about the basic details of his life. But documents to support those assertions? Can't find them.

All I wanted was to see the document when, in a moment of desperation, I followed an online search to Mathias Ambrose's entry at WikiTree. There, his date of death was given as 1808 in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

The profile manager for that page is not alone in that assumption. One online resource still available on the old RootsWeb FreePages—but soon to be converted to a read-only collection—also provides that 1808 date. Granted, Pat Asher's Ambrose Genealogy collection on the FreePages site is heavily footnoted, but unfortunately for me, the book which was the source for that date of death—Ancestors and Descendants of Amos Ambrose and Mary Brough of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania—is nowhere to be found. Well, let me amend that: I can find the book at FamilySearch.org, but it is not accessible to the public. The reason? Copyright restrictions. Where am I to find a copy of a book written by someone born in 1911 at this point?

There are other options. Though I'll still hold out for documentation, I can take my cue from the Ancestry.com subscriber who had posted a copy of Mathias Ambrose's will, dated in 1804. In a note accompanying the digitized copy, the subscriber mentioned the source of the document: Bedford County Historical Records. Whether that means the actual Bedford County Archives and Records Services, or possibly the Bedford County Historical Society, I've yet to discover. What I need to find is the follow-through: where are the legal documents following the presentation of that last will in court? I need to see whether the date for those documents was closer to 1808 or 1804.

Taking a cue from Pat Asher's own RootsWeb FreePages site, I can see I have other options for discovering more on this Ambrose family, such as researching leads from DNA testing. After all, there is actually an Ambrose DNA Project at Family Tree DNA. And I certainly have ThruLines results at Ancestry.com to examine. While I'm poking and prodding, behind the scenes, to find resources for that missing documentation, we'll take some time to examine whether the DNA angle offers any clues.

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