Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Temptation Is Great, But

… resist it, anyway. The lure of the Ancestry hint.  The hint you have to shoehorn in to fit the established data.  You find “confirmation” elsewhere for the veracity of the hint, and if you just make a couple of "minor" assumptions (or maybe three or four … or seven) about the (lack of) accuracy of census-takers, then…

I have been doing some basic research on the children of Wiley Franklin Moore and Mary Hood Busby, or actually filling in some missing pieces in previous research on this collateral line (the line of Freeman Manson Moore, a brother of my great-great grandfather William Spencer Moore).  This has included filling out one of my Ancestry trees with data on this family.

I was working on Arthur Elton Moore, the sixth known child of Wiley Franklin Moore and Mary Hood Busby.  I examined the various hints suggested by Ancestry.  According to my previous research, Arthur appears with his siblings on the 1910 US Federal Census, then next on the 1930 census, plus there was SSDI information and a World War I Draft Registration Card.  He was missing from the 1920 census, as were some other Moores from this line. 

But Ancestry gave me a hint for the 1920 census:

1920 US Federal Census, Justice Precinct 1, Hopkins County, Texas, ED 65, p. 7A, 7 Jan 1920

Line 25 232 Infirmary Street 138 161

Moore, Elton A. Head R M W 30 M Yes Yes TX TX TX Yes Mail carrier Rural
            Neeley Wife F W 24 M Yes Yes TX TN TX Yes Shoe making At home W
            Hoyal Son M W 6 S No TX TX TX None
            Alleen Dau F W 3-3/12 S TX TX TX None

However, I didn’t trust it, so I decided to review the other hints first.  The hints included a couple of links to Findagrave.  There I found two children listed for Arthur Elton and Ruby McClain Moore:  Harley E. Moore and Vida Aleen Moore Handley.

This looked pretty good.  But there were discrepancies:

1. Instead of Arthur E. Moore (according the 1900 and 1940 censuses, and on the 1910 and 1930 censuses he is Arthur and Arthur L.), the name given is Elton A.

2.  His age is somewhat off.

3.  His occupation is listed as mail carrier rather than farmer (as it is in the other censuses).

4.  His wife’s name was Ruby, not Neeley.

5.  His son’s name was Harley, not Hoyal.

6.  According to the 1930 census, his second child’s name is Jewel B. Moore, not Alleen Moore.

7. There is no mention of third child Berney Elbert Moore who, according to the 1930 census, was born around 1919.

Here were my explanations:

1.  I have often seen ancestors’ first and middle names used alternately, especially in this family line.  Besides – Arthur E. vs. Elton A. – still basically the same initials.

2.  Census-taker or information provider error.

3.  The census did say “Rural” after mail carrier, so the change in occupation was possible.

4.  Ruby’s middle initial was given as “N” in the 1930 and 1940 censuses – that could be Neeley.

5.  Census-taker error – and the approximate year of birth – 1914 – did match.

6.  Hm, this one was a head-scratcher.  But the approximate year of birth – 1916 – did match.

7.  This one was also a head-scratcher, and I actually forgot it in my excitement at seeing Aleen Moore listed as one of Arthur Elton’s children on Findagrave.

OK, so I blew it. 

But I didn’t let things stand at that.  After changing “Jewel B. Moore” to “Vida Aleen Moore” on my Ancestry tree, I started to examine the hints for her.  One was the California Death Index.  One item on it gave rise to a gnawing unease:  her mother’s maiden name – Blunt.

So my next step was to see what I could come up with for a search on Neeley Blunt.

And then my little house of straw started to collapse.

Among the items for Neely Blunt Moore were a picture of her with her children, Vida Aleen Moore and Hoyal Moore. 

And a picture of Aleen’s father, Elton Alexander Moore.

Oopsie.

Though one interesting item was that Aleen’s mother’s name was actually Ruby Neely Blunt (or Blount).  No wonder people are so confused about these two families.

On my Ancestry tree, the damage was already done.  Now I had to figure out how to remove the 1920 census from the list of sources (it took me a while).  And even then, the “fact” – residence in Hopkins, Texas in 1920 – had to be removed separately. 

And I should have known to be more skeptical, because I had just gone through something like this with Arthur’s brother, Wiley A(u)gustus Moore, and with his uncle, Samuel Alexander Napoleon Moore. 

A lot of people want Wiley to be Wiley William Moore.  After all, as one researcher has pointed out, his name on the 1900 census is “clearly” given as Wiley W. Moore.  I guess you just never know when to be skeptical of census-takers.  And this is another case where Findagrave duplicates the assumptions made by some readers:  He is listed as Wiley W. Moore and is linked to the Wiley Franklin Moore family. 

The two census hints given by Ancestry are the right guy:  even if he is Wiley W. on the 1900 census, he is with the right family, and since he is listed as being in the Kansas State Reformatory in 1910, I’m pretty sure that’s right, too.

But the next two hints are not so hot.  The World War I Draft registration card for Wiley William Moore lists his mother and father as dependents (Mary Hood Busby Moore died in 1905) and the California Death Index information for this same Wiley William Moore (the date of birth for both is 20 April 1889) lists his mother’s maiden name as Smith.

Then there is Samuel Alexander Napoleon Moore.  I have 11 rejected Findagrave hints for him, starting with the Findagrave hint for an Alexander Nepolin Moore.  It lists his father as Israel Moore (my guy’s father was William S. Moore), although it does have Nancy “Dublin” (= Dulin) Moore as his mother.  The death certificate for this guy also indicates that Isrial Moore was his father.  But on the 1860 census there is an Alex N.B. Moore of about the right age – and his father is Israel Moore. The woman who appears to be his mother/his father’s wife is named Caroline, however.   And this Alexander Moore eventually married a Mary Delaney Cheeves.  And a lot of other Ancestry family trees, probably following the lead of Findagrave and ignoring that inconvenient bit about Israel Moore being the father, have Mary Delaney Cheeves as “our” Wiley Moore’s wife.

In other words, these families are totally confused with one another.


So even when Ancestry hints “seem” to be confirmed by information found elsewhere, when there any sort of conflicting information, it pays to be super-cautious.

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