Errors in records

Genealogical research occasionally entails making an assumption or guess. Sources are often incomplete and can have errors introduced at the time of recording “facts.” Aside from typos and indecipherable handwriting, people lie. People lie about their age. They lie about relationships. They lie about their names. People change their names. They may not know their actual birth date or place of birth.

So researchers often make their best guesses as to what the actual history might be. As we are interested in the story, sometimes the “fuzzy facts” don’t make a lot of difference. Sometimes, the existence and retelling of a story says more than the factual truth of the story. Sometimes, it is hard to see that meaning. For example, there is a passed-down story that Matthew Harris Lingo had a twin lost in attack by Native Americans does not hold up to scrutiny against other verifiable facts. The story is told as fact, from the daughter of Matthew. What does this mean?

How errors live and grow

One of the big difference between and is how errors are perpetuated and/or corrected. On Ancestry, each person maintains their own family trees, sometimes public, other times, as private trees with access granted to only a few. Anyone can copy information from the public trees into their own trees. Any errors in the origin tree gets copied over. If the original tree gets corrected, the error still exists in the earlier copies. There are no easy or automated ways to catch such errors, and at times, it is hard to know which trees are correct.

On Family Search, everyone works on the same shared public tree. While this does result in some less-diligent researchers introducing errors into the tree, it also allows the community to question or correct errors. There are frequent problems with this model – it is not uncommon to encounter a family with 20 or more children from one mother, with children spaced only a few months apart, or children born to women who are outside the expected years of fertility. Family Search does not allow the creation of a “stand-alone” person – all new records must be connected to a parent, child or spouse, so some researchers will attach to a nearest match.

Common errors in Lingo records

Without getting too deep into the “why” on these errors, I present them here.

Asbury Pinkston Lingo(s)

On Ancestry, there is a common error that “Asbury Pinkston Lingo (1795 – 1865)” … was “[b]orn in Stewart County, Georgia, USA on 1795 to Elijah Lingo and Mary Hardin Taliaferro.

First, no source shows his first name as “Asbury” – his son, born 1830 was “Asbury Pinkston Lingo” – however the elder Pinkston was always referenced as “Pinkston” or simply “P Lingo.” Also, his parents were not Elijah and Mary – their children are fairly well documented in several sources. Pinkston was more likely the son of Patrick Lingo 1750-1801 and Sarah Pinkston.

Patrick Lingo

Many records show a Patrick Lingo being born in 1722 in Delaware and dying in 1801 in Georgia. Seems quite unlikely. While there is no firm documentation, I assert there are Father and Son Patricks. There is a AGBI record of a Patrick being born in 1750 in Delaware, and probably the same Patrick claiming head-right land in Georgia from 1786-1791, given for service in the Revolutionary War. There is a will for a Patrick Lingo probated in Delaware, not likely the same that moved to Georgia. There was also a transfer of land to a “Patrick Lingoe, yoeman of the other part” in Delaware in 1783. If this was the son, he sold it and moved to Georgia, if it was the father, he was already older than 60 years old.

The younger Patrick married a Sarah Pinkston in Georgia, a family name passed down. There was a large family of Pinkstons living in Stewart County Georgia as evidenced by the 22 buried nearby in the following years (earlier graves were often unmarked).

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