Tag Archives: evidence

Using Newspapers: Corroboration is Key (Part 1)

All genealogists know, or should, that you have to find at least two independent sources that agree. AT LEAST two. If your sources don’t agree, you have to keep digging or have a reasonable, logical explanation for why they don’t agree. That is called resolution of conflicts. So, do you believe everything that you read in newspaper articles? No! Well, you should at least try to find an independent source that provides the same information.

Here is an example:

Mrs. Marshall C. Dimick (Martha Meeker), The Daily Sentinel-Tribune, Bowling Green, Ohio, 24 September 1970, pg. 2.

The above obituary states that Martha Meeker “was born May 27, 1872 to Mr. and Mrs. Mahlon Meeker (Mary Baughman).”

I was able to order Martha’s death certificate from Tennessee. She was living with one of her children at the time of her death.

Martha Meeler Dimick, death certificate, number 030044 (1970), State of Tennessee, Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statistics, Nashville.

The death certificate states that her parents were Mahlon Meeker and Mary Baughman. I originally found these records back in the time when censuses only had head of household indexes on Ancestry. Do you remember those days? You could only search the database by the heads of household. When I found this obituary, I figured I should be able to find Martha Meeker with her parents Mahlon and Mary Meeker in the 1880 census and possibly the parents as a couple in 1870. I searched and searched and searched…and was unable to find them.

If you have Wood County, Ohio research, you might know that the Wood County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society has done some fantastic projects indexing the county probate birth, marriage, and death records and making those indexes available to purchase in books. Before a lot of these records were available digitized by FamilySearch, I lived by these publications! I have every single one on my bookshelf and they were so useful to me in a time before online genealogy was as big as it is now. I took a look through the birth records and found an index entry for Martha Meeker, and I ordered a copy of her birth record.

Martha Meeker entry, Wood County Births, vol. 1, p.106, no. 169; Probate Judge, Bowling Green, Ohio.

Ah ha! Now I have a birth record with different names for her parents: Lafayette Meeker and Philinda Baughman. Conflicting information that needs to be resolved. A birth record is so much better than an obituary or death record when trying to identify Martha’s parents. I will discuss why and some other factors in next week’s post. In the meantime, remember that corroborating information is very important when evaluating your evidence.