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Using wills to verify published family histories

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In Heritage Quest Online can break down brick walls, an example was shared to illustrate how family histories published by even the most distant cousins can hold vital information on your ancestor. What do you do when you discover another person’s genealogy with your ancestral line mentioned?

Verify

Some inexperienced family historians load the new information into their pedigrees without even checking sources thereby adopting folks who really are not related to them. Hopefully, the author of the compiled history will have included the sources they used making it easier to verify whether the information provided is factual. Otherwise, any information gleaned without a source should not be accepted verbatim without having documentation to back it up.

Wills

One resource that can help you verify the relationships in a published family history is wills. In the book, “Some of the ancestors and descendants of James and George Ashford Jr. of Fairfield County, South Carolina,” written by Charles Rabb Ashford in 1956, the relationship of Anna Ashford Tucker to Moses Tucker and his father George Ashford was referenced but needed to be proven It was mentioned that a will listing the children of George Ashford was in the possession of a family member. The children of George Ashford (1724-1814) and his wife, Mary, mentioned in the family history were:

  • Ann Ashford, b. 1744
  • Mary Ashford, b. 9 August 1748
  • Michael Ashford, b. 24 September 1750
  • Constance Ashford, b. 3 March 1752
  • Elizabeth Ashford, b. 10 May 1756
  • George Ashford, Jr, b. 11 February 1758
  • Sibbie Ashford, b. 1 November 1759
  • Moses Ashford, b. 25 June 1763
  • Sarah Ashford, b. 2 May 1765
  • Jene Ashford, b. 19 October 1768
  • Redding Ashford, b. 18 August 1771
  • Leanna Ashford, b. 19 February 1773
  • Micajah Ashford, b. 19 April 1775
  • James Ashford, b. 14 August 1777
  • Bennett Ashford, b. 8 May 1780
  • William Ashford, b. 8 November 1782

Verifying Ashford ancestry

Fortunately George’s will is accessible online: Ashford, George, or Newberry District, Will Transcript. Several of the daughters were listed by their married names making it possible to trace descendants. Not every child was mentioned in this will, but Moses’ relationship as the son of George was established:

Sarah, William, Simon, Mary, Michael, Elizabeth, George, Sibbe, Moses, Jene, Leanna, Micajah, James, Bennett, and Constance

Next, the most logical place to prove that Anna Ashford was in fact the daughter of Moses Ashford also happens to be in a will. Moses purchased land in Union, South Carolina. A will for Ashford, Moses of Union District was recorded on August 23, 1820. As presumed, Anna Ashford is mentioned by her father who divided his estate among his three children.

Now, the only verifying that is left to take place is to prove Anna Ashford is the same Anna that the compiled history names as the person who married James A. Tucker. Her father died before she would have married James, so he refers to her as Anna Ashford instead of Anna Tucker. All the clues point to this fact, but it needs to be documented somehow. The search is on for this last piece of evidence. Where do you suppose it will be found?

Click here today so that you do not miss this valuable resource for overcoming your genealogy research challenges.

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