Monday, October 24, 2016

An Example of the Shortcomings of an Index

I really cannot stress the importance of looking deeper than the index enough.  Mistakes will be made....sometimes mistakes on top of mistakes.  If something doesn't look right then you should be digging deeper.  The records of Joseph S. Cook provide the perfect example.   I believe I have mentioned that his estate record is included in with another Joseph Cook but let me show you.

A search returns the following listing

Looks normal enough.    But let's take a closer look.(yes. ...I put corrections in the comments to help other researchers but for the time being ignore those)

This is the folder....I can tell you both the name and the dates are correct....but they are both also incorrect as well.  Confused yet?  Now let's look at the index card of contents.

Do you notice anything strange?  You would if you examined the Inventory of Estate Sale AND read the date on the will included.  The Inventory & Estate Sale is recorded in Jan Term of 1839 while the will was written in Dec 1839 and proved in Feb Term of 1840.  What you have here is a Joseph S. Cook who died without a will and W. C. Cook(my 2nd Great Grandfather) who was appointed admin to take care of Joseph S Cook's Estate Sale. ( The actual petition is in another record book.)  The other papers including a will, deed and various other records are those of the estate of  Joseph Cook of Davidson Co TN. The Davidson Co TN Joseph's estate is fairly extensive. His estate is finally settled in 1843.  If I had only looked at the File Folder information and the index card I might have assumed that these were ALL Joseph S. Cook's estate papers given the closeness of the dates.

I find Joseph S. Cook(although he is not listed with the S. initial) in  25th Dist of Williamson Co TN in 1838...W. C. Cook is listed with him on the Tax List there although W. C. Cook is listed in Bedford Co TN(Rover Dist 10) in all other years. The Joseph Cook from Davidson Co TN is also listed in Dist 4 on Davidson Co TN's 1839 tax list...and wouldn't you know it....there is another Joseph Cook in Dist 2 during the same time period.  I have spent the better part of the week looking at each of these and familiarizing myself with them and their friends, family, associates and neighbors.  Speaking of which--if you have the opportunity to catch Elizabeth Shown Mills'  presentation FAN + GPS + DNA: The Problem-Solver's Great Trifecta which was a recent webinar available thru Legacy Family Tree Webinars, I highly recommend it. The case study is mind-blowing and very inspiring.

Source Citation

Probate, Divorce and Original Wills Records, 1800-1899; Author: Tennessee County Court (Williamson County); Probate Place: Williamson, Tennessee

Source Information Tennessee, Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Tennessee County, District and Probate Courts.

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