Today Michael John Neill’s Genealogy Tip of the Day was “Don’t Neglect Online Trees.” Well, I followed that advice in my Brinlee research this weekend. And I admit it. If I’m going to be looking stuff up on Ancestry anyway, I check the trees to see whether the censuses I’ll need are already connected to the people on any of the trees - hey, it can save me some time to start with. Then I go looking for the rest of the stuff, both on Ancestry and elsewhere.
I knew there would be some complications with the Richard Mason Brinlee tree. In particular, looking into his family with his first wife, Anne E. Simmons, has opened up a can of worms.
It started with a good discovery, however: some of the trees had a scan attached containing Richard’s reconstituted Confederate Service record (a much abbreviated one, as I reported in “The Civil War and My Ancestors”). And there was more: both of the marriage records for his marriage to Anne (on 15 July 1858) and to Sarah Ellen Petit (on 15 April 1861) were attached. I also had previous information from a couple of articles in a county book (though these are not totally trustworthy as sources, the ladies who wrote them were much closer to some of the earlier generations in this family, so I do take an interest in what they knew of these families). Those articles indicated that Richard and Anne had a daughter named Mary, born around 1859, and that Anne might have died around the same time of complications from childbirth. OK, fine.
Now some of the online trees list only one daughter for Anne and Richard - Mary Frances “Mollie” Brinlee, who married a Benjamin Tinnin. And others list two - Mary (b. 1859) and “Nancy” (b. 1861). And they give the exact same date of death in 1938 for both.
I don’t think so. On that date a Mary/Mollie Brinlee Tinnin did die. And that Mary Brinlee Tinnin, I am fairly certain, was born around May 1861 as stated on the 1900 census. This is consistent with the ages given for her on the 1910 and 1930 censuses (48 and 68), as well as for the Mary Brinlee, age 9, living with Richard and his second wife Ellen on the 1870 census.
And for my money, that Mary has to be Ellen’s daughter, not Anne’s. Taken together with the date of Richard and Sarah Ellen’s marriage - 15 April 1861 - this would mean that Mary was born about a month after they married.
I’m guessing Anne did have a daughter (maybe the poor, forgotten Nancy, or even another Mary) and perhaps did die in childbirth.
So the trees had some bad information, but they also contained the documentary evidence to correct that information.