Last Updated: December 11, 2018
I need to go over a few things so you can get the most out of this website. This will cover how I handle certain situations and various conventions that I use. I’ll put it all here in one place instead of trying to explain things every time I do something. For instance you might have noticed that some names appear in bold and have a number after them. Let me start there…
Bold Names with Numbers
Most of the time, when I reference someone in my family history files you will notice that their name is in bold and there is a number after their name, like my grandfather, John Downs (#18). All that means is that I have data on them and they are placed in my family tree someplace. The number is a unique ID number for each individual that I assigned as each was entered into my database. These numbers become critical in certain cases like when discussing the eleven family members named “Elizabeth Hopkins.”
Another good example of where this is useful is the case of my great great grandparents, Thomas Higgins (#24) and Susan (Snow) Higgins (#25). Among their seven children are two named “Cordelia,” Cordelia Higgins (#765) and Cordelia Higgins (#23). Cordelia Higgins (#765) died at one year of age and later they had another daughter, Cordelia Higgins (#23), who became my great grandmother.
The order of the numbers is strictly the order they were entered into my database. You can tell that I first entered my grandparent, great grandparents, etc. before coming back and adding their siblings. This is why three of those are in the 20’s and the other is “#765.”
Conjecture is a double edged sword that needs to be wielded with great care when discussing genealogy. I will share one example with you to demonstrate.
In 1936, Leon Clark Hills published Mayflower Planters and First Comers to Ye Olde Colonie. In it he shares some conjecture on the possible parentage of Stephen Hopkins(#100). This conjecture, and he was not alone in this possible theory, was that he was the son of Nicholas Hopkins and his wife Mary (Poole) Hopkins and born in Wortley, Wotten-under-Edge, Gloucestshire. This conjecture was based on nothing more than this Stephen Hopkins was born about the right time and had a Giles in his wife’s family. (Stephen(#100) named his oldest son “Giles.”) It was an extremely flimsy circumstantial case and far from a proven fact.
After the book was published, others began reporting that the father of Stephen Hopkins was Nicholas. Books were published with this fact and often cited Hills as their source. Those of us who would see this would cringe because we knew that it was just a guess and needed much further research. Conjecture becomes fact and people want to extend their family tree back one more generation so it becomes easy to have the possible become probable and then fact.
In the late 1990’s, Stephen Hopkins(#100) birth record was found. He was most likely the Stephen born in Upper Clatford, Hampshire, England in 1581 to John and Elizabeth Hopkyns. The Hills conjecture commonly portrayed as fact continues to be relied upon, despite it being disproved. I found a couple of trees on Ancestry.com just now reporting that Stephen’s father was Nicholas.
It once hit close to home. I had written a piece and laid out a possible solution to who someone’s parents might be and I warned the readers it was just a possibility but I shared it in case another researcher could shed further light upon the matter. A few months later, I came across a website stating my conjecture as fact and listing me as the source. I contacted them immediately and I was quite strong in my wording, but they removed the citation and amended their text. Ever since, I’ve been shy and have stayed away from sharing conjecture.
I will be careful to label conjecture as such in bold and in red with something like the following: The following material contains conjecture; please read carefully. I may in some cases even add: End of conjecture. Just like you show me something that is idiot proof, I can show you an idiot that can get around that, I’m sure there will be people with such a strong desire to add another name or generation to their family tree that they will add it to their Ancestry.com public tree. At least I have done all that I could within my power.
A Work in Progress
It is the curse of the genealogist that they will never complete their work and have a finished project. There will always be one more generation that eludes them and more research is bound to turn up new information. So much has been published over the last 200 years on two Mayflower passengers, Thomas Rogers(#322) and Stephen Hopkins(#100). Yet, in the last 20 years so much more has come to light concerning both of them, shattering old theories and presenting new facts and generations that can be further explored.
I will publish here what I know but check back as I am constantly learning more and I will be updating this site frequently. Subscribe to my blog here on this page. You can follow it by email and get a message telling you there is a new blog post. I will use the blog to announce new findings and where you can find updates on the site.
- There will be no mention or information concerning anyone who is still alive. If I do not possess any death information on an individual, I will withhold their information until 120 years after their birth.
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- Some information, such as social security numbers, will always be withheld.
- An individual’s information will be withheld if their spouse is still living.
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