Chapter One – What is the Genealogical Proof Standard?
Christine Rose. Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, 4th Edition Revised. San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2014.
This week’s reading focuses on evidence analysis. I often have trouble remembering which elements belong with the concepts of sources, information and evidence, and have found the process map created by Elizabeth Shown Mills1 to be extremely helpful in using the correct terminology when I am analyzing a document.
The research question for this week’s topic is Who is the father of Rebecca Horton? I have two documents which will be analyzed for evidence that her father was William Horton of Anderson County, Tennessee.
Document #1: Deed Abstract, Anderson County, Tennessee
This land transaction took place in 1828 and was recorded in the Anderson County court in 1830. The abstract appears in a derivative work published in 1999. The parties to the deed – Frances Horton, Rebecca Horton, and Elizabeth Horton – would have had first-hand knowledge that Frances Horton was one of the heirs to William’s estate, making it primary information. By itself, this deed does not answer the research question, but it does provide indirect evidence of a relationship between William, Frances, and Rebecca.
|Figure 1. Abstract of land sale from Frances Horton |
to Rebecca & Elizabeth Horton2
Document #2: Court Minutes, Anderson County, Tennessee
In 1815, the Anderson County court named Fanny Horton the guardian of minor children Rebecca Scior Horton and Elizabeth Horton. The court record identifies their father as William Horton, who was deceased at the time of the court hearing. The court minutes used are high-quality digital images of the original books* recorded by the clerk of court at the time of the event. Although we do not have a transcript of the court hearing, it is most likely that the court-appointed guardian, Fanny Horton, or her representative provided testimony that Rebecca’s father was William Horton, making this primary information that provides direct evidence of the answer to the research focus.
|Figure 2. Court minutes assigning guardianship of Rebecca Scior Horton and Elizabeth |
Horton, minor children, to Fanny Horton3
*The author of our study argues that microfilmed copies of original records are derivative sources, but in her Quick Lesson on Evidence Analysis, Elizabeth Mills writes that “in our digital era, the concept of “original record” also extends to high-quality images of those originals.”4 Because the digital images used here are high quality and easy to read, I am classifying this record as an original record.
Note: At this point, I don't have enough information to form any kind of theory as to who Fanny Horton was and the nature of her relationship to Rebecca & Elizabeth. Besides these two documents, she appears on the 1830 census as a head of household, and that is really all I know about her at this point in time. More exhaustive research in other sources - one of the key elements of the GPS - is needed before I can determine her relationship to Rebecca.
1. Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 17: The Evidence Analysis Process Model,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-17-evidence-analysis-process-map : January 1, 2017)
2. S. Emmett Lucas. Anderson County, Tennessee Land Deed Genealogy, 1801-1831. Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1999, 181.
3. Anderson County, Tennessee County Court Minutes, Oct. 1814-Jan. 1819.” Images. FamilySearch. http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 2016. Court session 9 Oct 1815, page 58, image 158 of 688, guardianship record for Rebecca Scior Horton and Elizabeth Horton.
4. Mills, Evidence Explained.
4. Mills, Evidence Explained.