Andersons of Colonial N. Carolina

so I start this site in Virginia… go figure

Amateur’s Code

with 4 comments

I’ve become aware of a dilemma in genealogy.  Its not really a “pro” vs “amateur” thing although pros go out of their way to provide explanations. I’m speaking of that damn footnote thing that they do. As an obstinate amateur, I only use footnotes as a last resort… any careful reader of mine will surmise correctly that I do it just to tick them off.  Its written in “The Amateur’s Code”… not sure of the page number… or the publisher.

The dilemma I refer to is a casual statement of a fact “that appears so obvious to a genealogist that they see no reason to cite, source and document it”. One of those “everybody knows it” situations.  I think it is something we all do and have to guard against. Pros know to watch out for it because it can ruin a reputation… or at least leave a stain.  An amateur may do a family history that is picked up decades later and is subjected to scrutiny.  Such cases, particularly today with this new internet thingy, can be dismissed and regulated to the trash heap when they contain pretty little “pearls” of information.  While the said document may be a hideous fabrication from an incompetent boob, it also could be a turd that simply needs polishing and refined a bit. Actually I’ve never seen one that is really “hideous” and also I don’t think “boobs” are interested in genealogy.  As a matter of fact most boobs in my local watering hole just go up to play the juke box when I start talking genealogy trash. I should watch my tasteless humor here because I’m about to show an example and I certainly don’t want to infer my trashtalk is about this family historian.  Are we cool with that?  Good, because I’ve spent ten years of arduous polishing and darned if it isn’t getting shiny.

On a somewhat more serious level, if I can contain myself, I’ve presented this synopsis several times in my various posts and I’ve been somewhat surprised at the response to it.  I think it has been tarnished with the dreaded “undocumented sources” curse and is in danger of being relegated to a footnote somewhere in “The Amateur’s Code”.

From the research of Donald Gordon (a Pittman descendant):

Thomas Pitman,of Monmouthshire, England, fled England during the Cromwell rebellion and landed in Virginia in 1649. He purchased land in Surry County, Virginia and had two sons Thomas and William. This grandson, the third Thomas moved about 1707 to Isle of Wight County. His daughter Elizabeth and son Robert, with Robert’s two sons, Samuel and Joseph moved to Edgecombe County North Carolina about 1738. Deeds in Edgecombe County show Robert, Samuel, Joseph and Elizabeth holding several hundred acres in the area North and West of Tarboro. Joseph who first appears on Edgecombe records as a bailiff of the court had a son Abner (b. 1758) and grandson born 1787. By this time the Pitmans became Pittmans and all spelled their name with two tees . The Pittmans held land North of Leggett stretching into southern Halifax County. Here Joseph and his wife Mary had a son Henry Elias born 1828. In 1850 Henry married Lucy Anderson who in 1852 gave birth to Biscoe Pittman who married Martha Alice Walston. To this marriage was born, as the last of eight children, Hobson Lafayette Pittman (1899) at Epworth.

(Cracking my knuckles) … let me dissect this…

Thomas Pitman,of Monmouthshire, England, fled England during the Cromwell rebellion and landed in Virginia in 1649. He purchased land in Surry County, Virginia and had two sons Thomas and William.”

This may or may not be bunk… a Pro simply will not go there because it would be necessary to back up the statement with facts and that would involve research in England.  I speculate that any number of Pros would step up to the plate to do the necessary research provided expenses were paid. …I pause to clear my throat and try to maintain my decorum.  It also doesn’t take a wild flight of imagination to realize that it really wasn’t that long ago, particularly in some richly “Southern” enclaves, that it was popular to be associated with English castletrash… even if it was as a rebel fleeing those that actually caused them to flee.  I’ve always found that strange… but then again, I’m more Texan than Southern and Texans started their own damn country until they foolishly gave it up… but I digress.

“This grandson, the third Thomas moved about 1707 to Isle of Wight County.”

Turn in your account with your Internet Provider, throw your computer in the trash and go directly to the Library of Virginia.  Find the oldest librarian on the staff and explain to her/him that you want to do genealogy like a “Real Man”, or woman,  and do it the “old fashioned way” like it is supposed to be done!  Be forceful if necessary, the staff may be somewhat startled but they will eventually come around.

His daughter Elizabeth and son Robert, with Robert’s two sons, Samuel and Joseph moved to Edgecombe County North Carolina about 1738.”

Hmmm… he sounds downright specific about that statement.  No equivocations or sissy little adjectives like “possibly” or “may have” or even that grand standby “quite likely”.  I find it quite likely that he may have possibly gone to the “The LIbrary”.  I also think that he may have had local family sources that he used and may have been so wrapped up in the Isle of Wight stuff that he thought the local stuff was just “obvious”. He was after all, “a Pittman descendant”.   I’ve spent the last decade verifying the above statement and it is correct.   … the “Elizabeth” part is a bit “iffy” tho’.

“Deeds in Edgecombe County show Robert, Samuel, Joseph and Elizabeth holding several hundred acres in the area North and West of Tarboro. Joseph who first appears on Edgecombe records as a bailiff of the court had a son Abner (b. 1758) and grandson born 1787.” 

I’m damn close to proving this correct. Or not.  I’m polishing.

“By this time the Pitmans became Pittmans and all spelled their name with two tees . The Pittmans held land North of Leggett stretching into southern Halifax County. Here Joseph and his wife Mary had a son Henry Elias born 1828. In 1850 Henry married Lucy Anderson who in 1852 gave birth to Biscoe Pittman who married Martha Alice Walston. To this marriage was born, as the last of eight children, Hobson Lafayette Pittman (1899) at Epworth.”

I think I will make a special effort to find an old phone book and take a digital photo of the Pittman references and post it.  Then I can rest assured about that “two tees” bit.  Buried in some of my notes, is a snippet of info

from 2001 from a Pittman descendant:

“I have an orginal of Hobson Pittman’s biography written by Donald Gordan. Years ago mom gave it to me, because I have been research the Pittmans at the state of NC archives. I don’t know where she got it, but Hobson was her uncle.    Also there was a family bible that listed Abner and Joseph. It only had them and no spouses or children. My mom didn’t know who they were. There names were just in it on a page with no reference.”  Its a shame Mr. Gordon did not document his work, but he gave some pretty good clues.  Amateur.

Amateurs like me don’t hesitate to throw out theories… we are looking for answers to clues.  We look at “brick walls” as something climb over.  But of course we have to watch out for a lot of bunk.  Junk genealogy is all over the web and darn it… I suppose we should document our sources… maybe add it to the Amatuer’s Code.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Written by anderson1951

January 20, 2012 at 5:42 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. At first I wasn’t going to touch this one with a 10 foot pole…kind of like the copyright rant…but… 😉

    For the past three years, I’ve been in the process of attempting to transition from a sorta-kinda amateurish status (there’s a grey area there when it comes to librarians – I am a “professional” librarian, but what of my genealogy skills?) to a more, to borrow your adjective, “polished” state. Raise the bar, if you will. I can say it has been a fascinating journey of invaluable continuing education, and I’m so glad I decided to undertake it. I’ve learned so much and feel rather enlightened about a great many aspects of history/genealogy that I had not given much thought to before.

    I suspect you might be – perhaps even unconciously – teetering on the edge of such yourself. I would recommend you explore a few “professional” publications and mull them over, see what you think. Start by getting hold of a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Her forward to the book is food for thought that I think you could relate to. Here’s a snippet you might appreciate:

    “As students, when we are introduced to research principles, we may have been told that identifying sources is important for two reasons. First, we provide “proof” for what we write. Second, we enable others to find what we have used. Both purposes are valid, but they miss the most critical point of all:

    *We identify our sources – and their strengths and weaknesses – so we can reach the most realiable conclusions*.” [Emphasis Elizabeth’s.]

    So give it a try…and if you don’t get into it, you can always use it as a doorstop. It’s a rather thick tome.

    Traci Thompson

    January 20, 2012 at 8:56 am

  2. I have a serious affliction when it comes to genealogy… I only can tolerate folks directly or indirectly related to me, mine or those red-heads we can’t quite explain. The idea of reading a stranger’s genealogy puts me in a state near apoplexy. Now if I was being paid to dig up some dirt it might interest me… I love finding horsethieves, counterfeiters and prostitutes. I can even conceive of a business model for a genealogist specializing in character assassination… a Hit Genealogist if you will. Or perhaps they already exist. (I love Conspiracy Theories also). … I jest… kudos to you for expanding your horizons.

    *We identify our sources – and their strengths and weaknesses – so we can reach the most realiable conclusions*.” … I take that to mean most folks just want he unvarnished truth… cool.. I can live with that.

    thanks

    anderson1951

    January 20, 2012 at 10:26 am

  3. Hmm…I think “hit genie” will be my next career move.

    traci thompson

    January 20, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    • Stop snickering…. I hear that Washington D.C. crowd is hiring. “Uh, Mr Senator… Isn’t it true that your great grandfather blah blah…?” … that “journalist” crowd also pays very well for particularly spicy dirt. LOL

      Hot off the press from our Edgecombe Yahoo group…

      Judy Wallman, a professional genealogy researcher in southern California , was doing some personal work on her own family tree.. She discovered that Senator Harry Reid’s great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. Both Judy and Harry Reid share this common ancestor
      The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows in Montana territory:
      NOTE: The picture showed him on the gallows with rope around the neck.
      On the back of the picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription: ‘Remus Reid, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.’
      So Judy recently e-mailed Senator Harry Reid for information about their great-great uncle.

      Believe it or not, Harry Reid’s staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy research:
      “Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory . His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889,Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.”

      I have 2 Darn-its for 2 reasons…
      Darnit 1… I didn’t write it…
      Darnit 2… It isn’t true according to Snopes

      I r e a l l y don’t care for Senator Reid.

      anderson1951

      January 21, 2012 at 6:59 am


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: