When you begin gathering family history information for the first time, it’s exciting to find information in a book about your family. It’s almost like discovering you’re famous!

I have a group sheet for Welcome Stephens that I created years and years ago. I believe the information that was the basis for this group sheet came from a Russell County History book in which individuals can submit family information and from people who submitted trees on Ancestry.com. I have approximate dates of birth and to be honest; I have no idea where some of this information came from. So after this oh-so-newbie beginning, I have 10 children for Welcome Stephens and his wife, Nancy, with dates of birth ranging from 1794 to 1816.

Elizabeth

1794

John

1797

Dudley

1797

Joshua

1800

Andrew

1801

Polly “Mary”

1807

Thomas

1810

William

1813

Sherwood

1815

Lettie

1816

I have used that information as the jumping off point for both directions – ancestors AND descendants of Welcome Stephens. But as I spend this holiday season updating notes, I just can’t make some of this information fit. And if I’m searching for individuals many years older or younger than their actually age, I may be missing valuable records.

In the 1800 census, Welcome’s household only had 2 people – a male and a female, each between the ages of 16 and 25.  Based on my group sheet, there should be 3 or 4 children by this time, which makes me see that this information cannot be accurate. I understand that census takers sometimes got their information from neighbors, but there were a total of 4 Stephens’s families living in the area at the time and I find it hard to believe that a stranger would know that there was a man and a woman living at a location, but fail to notice 4 kids!

So what if I was starting totally from scratch with no “outside” information?  What would I have in my group sheet? For years, I’ve been collecting documents from any Stephens name I could find – time to be a detective with the documents I have by looking at them with a fresh eye.

Next Time: Welcome’s Will

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