Monday, May 10, 2010

Madness Monday: A Rose By Any Other Name....

Last night I received an email from an irate individual, who was royally ticked off at me because I had impugned one of his ancestors on my genealogy website.

He was ticked off because I had said on my website that his ancestor SARAH WHITECOTTON (of Marshall Co AL) was somehow involved in a court case in Bradley Co TN, and that somehow his SARAH WHITECOTTON was inexplicably connected to some THOMPSON family in Bradley Co TN, etc, etc. My research was wrong, wrong, WRONG, he said. And he had the bible records, and family stories to prove it!!!!!

I wrote back a lengthy reply. What happened here was that this individual was confusing two people with the same name--although in one case, it was a married name.  But the kicker was that the two people were born thirteen years apart, and lived in completely different areas.

It's difficult sometimes when ancestors you are researching have the same name.  But it's really important to pay close attention to the details, and not jump to conclusions.

Here is what I wrote back to the irate individual:

"I can see the basis of your confusion.  You are referrring to TWO DIFFERENT people here:   

1) My gg grandmother SARAH THOMPSON b abt 1825 NC, died 1889 Christian Co MO,  who married JAMES MONROE WHITECOTTON b 1825 Alabama, d aft 1900 Jackson Co AL;  

and 2) your ancestor SARAH WHITECOTTON b 1812 prob KY, died aft 1860 Marshall Co AL, who married TILGHMAN HARDY BURNS and JAMES N DAVIS.
My gg grandmother 1) SARAH (THOMPSON) WHITECOTTON was from a family that lived from 1839 until 1858  in Bradley Co TN; she herself can be found in  Alabama for the 1850 census in Morgan Co AL, Decatur twp, with her husband & two children (one of which was my great grandmother).  In 1860 my SARAH lived with her sister MARY (THOMPSON) GOODWIN & family in Hamilton Co TN, and from 1870 until her death in 1889 she lived with her second husband NATHAN GRIFFIN and her extended Thompson family in Christian, Taney & Douglas Co MO.  

Your ancestor 2) SARAH WHITECOTTON was born abt 1812 in prob KY, and died sometime after 1860, likely in Marshall Co AL. She lived only in Marshall Co AL, according to census records.  And she was the aunt of my gg grandfather JAMES MONROE WHITECOTTON who was born about 1825 AL. 

The court case I refer to on my webpage involved my great grandparents 1) SARAH THOMPSON who married JAMES MONROE WHITECOTTON,  and not your ancestor 2) SARAH WHITECOTTON who married T H BURNS and JAMES N DAVIS. Your SARAH likely never set foot in Bradley Co TN. 

It's really easy to get confused when several ancestors have the very same name.  It pays to look carefully at the birth & death dates.  I have been researching the Whitecottons for ten years and so far I have found at least five with the name SARAH WHITECOTTON!! And there may be more."

Can't get much clearer than that, eh? Plus I sent him a link to all the documentation that I have on both families, which is substantial. 

But sadly, this morning, I received another reply from this individual, still ranting & persisting that I was WRONG about his ancestor SARAH WHITECOTTON of Marshall Co AL-- and he could prove it!!! 

Will I return a reply? Absolutely not.  Either this person is cognitively impaired, or mentally unstable. In either case, it doesn't pay to engage someone who is so far off track.


Oh well. Have a great day!



Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

Pretty scary, but at the same time I hope someday in the future that you will pull this story out of your hat of interesting genealogy stories and have a good laugh!

Betty said...

On a happier note, I was contacted by a 3rd cousin from the Frazier family. We were stunned to discover that we had attended the same university during the same time period with the same major--we likely rubbed elbows and never even knew it!!

Martin said...

As my grandfather used to say: you can make something foolproof, just not damned fool proof!

Be content you are doing great research.

Barbara Poole said...

Betty, how terrible. Did he find you through the blog or RootsWeb? Very unfortunate that you had to deal with him in the first place. Hope it never happens again. I wouldn't write him back either.

Betty said...

Thanks Martin, Heather & Barb! I guess this is just kind of thing is bound to happen when you publish stuff online! I am thankful that the vast majority of people I have dealt with have been wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. Well, hopefully if you don't respond, neither will he. If he truly believes there is an error, he should have emailed you the proof, instead of going off on you in the email. *sigh*

Renate Yarborough Sanders said...

It's good that you made that decision. Sometimes, we run across people who create their own "reality", and they often will push their story until they can MAKE others believe it (even when we know the truth)! It's good that you just let it go. Either this person will come to their senses, or they won't, but don't let them drive you nuts in the process! :)


Lynn said...


I am descended from the line of James N. Davis who was the second husband of your Sarah (Whitecotton) Burnes.

If you would like to share information, please contact me.

Thank you,

Lynn W. Melberg