Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Re-evaluating George Butler

Subscribers will remember that part of our 1850 census search for Benjamin Butler hinged on his son George. This George was born 1848-1849 in or near Port Huron, Michigan, and is believed to have lived in southern Iowa after the 1860s. The entire discussion will not be repeated here, but records on George in Iowa indicated he was from Port Huron, Michigan. There is a potential problem with our analysis.

A correspondent indicated that Michigan Deaths and Burials, 1800-1995  (on Family Search) had an entry for a George Butler born in 1848 in Michigan who was also the son of Benjamin Butler. This presented a problem as part of our analysis and conclusion was based upon the likelihood that there not that many George Butlers born about 1848 in Michigan who were the sons of a Benjamin.

The death record of George Butler  in Iowa indicates his father was born in Scotland--which the Benjamin Butler we thought he was the son of was not.

I was glad that I had written up my analysis and research process for Benjamin and George before these things were located. That made it easier to incorporate this "other" George and the birthplace of Scotland into my research.

We'll see in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues how this George impacts my interpretations. It again makes for good commentary on the reliability of secondary sources. This new George does require research and needs to be a part of research conclusions even if the "new" George turns out not to be the one I'm looking for.

Part of the continued analysis centers on how reliable secondary sources are and the fact that not all information will be entirely consistent. We have to make our case using all the evidence and citing sources. Subscribe now and get in on the discovery. This is a situation where things are not immediately clear and where constantly re-evaluating evidence is important.

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