Somewhere—long, long ago—on a nearly-forgotten trip to Ohio to dig through those prized source documents without which genealogical facts cannot be supported, I decided to do something smart: photocopy the entire Perry County index of births and deaths for my prime surnames. Included in that lot was the surname Gordon.
Where, oh where, is that file, now that I need it?!
Printed out on legal-sized paper by what surely was then still called a Xerox machine, the copies were too unwieldy to fit into my standard sized file cabinet. I had to come up with some other place to store them, so the edges wouldn't become frayed.
That is the rub: where was that place I tucked them so that they wouldn't become worn?
All is not lost, of course. It's a snap they aren't in my file cabinet. Nor in my storage boxes—also standard size folders.
Meanwhile, pending resolution of that search, I have an alternative to resolving my discrepancy over which George and Sarah Gordon are the ones I'm currently seeking. I can grimace and hold my nose and take a peek at one of those "indexed" collections put together by places such as Ancestry.com. You know, the ones with the squishy citations, like—quoting here in its entirety from the "citation" box in the drop down resource online—
Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.Original data - "Ohio Births and Christenings, 1821-1962." Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009, 2011. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled re
"Compiled re" what? One wonders such thoughts as, "Why does the title of the collection not match up with the title of its 'original data' source?" After all, the collection's official title—dubbed so by Ancestry itself—is "Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1800-1962." Where, exactly, did it come from? Who drew up the original index? What material was used as the source documents for compiling that index? How reliable were those indexers?
I could go on with such questions. I want to know whether the data I'm relying on are actually, you know, reliable.
Let's just call this a stop-gap measure. After all, I'm still trying to sort out my Georges and Sarahs. Surely some baptismal records can lend me a hand—even if they were indexes of copies of transcriptions of the original thing.
Here's all I could find:
- A baptismal record for Hugh M. D. Gordon with father George Gordon and mother Sarah Dittoe
- A baptismal record for "Agness" Gordon with father George Gordon and mother Sara J. Dittoe
- A baptismal record for Samuel B. Gordon with father George Gordon and mother Sarah Dittoe
Remember that fork in the road I hit yesterday, with the one George Gordon family remaining in Perry County, Ohio, and the other moving to Douglas County, Illinois? Let's take a look at which family had Hugh, Agnes and Samuel with them.
You thought this was going to be easy, right? Well, the 1880 census for neither household had anyone named Agnes Gordon. But there was a Hugh. He wasn't, however, in the same household as the one which had a Samuel.
This complicated matters. I had already assumed the George Gordon family living close to the other Gordon families—Mark in 1860 and Adam in 1870—would be the correct household. However, Samuel complicated matters by turning out to be a child in the other Gordon household.
But wait! Not so fast! Let's check ages. The Samuel in the 1880 census was born in 1875. Going back to that baptismal entry in the Index, the Samuel who was confirmed to be the son of Sarah Dittoe was born in 1881—too late to have even made it into the 1880 census.
And this Samuel—the late arrival to the Ohio Gordon scene—was the Samuel who had moved with his family to Arcola in Douglas County, Illinois.
So, once I can properly compile the list of all Samuel's older siblings, I'll have a tentative fix on just which George and Sarah was which.
Of course, finding that legal-sized copy of the actual Index to Births for Perry County would be optimal. I know that was the document kept in the courthouse in Perry County. Barring any clerical errors in the official transcription of documents into that courthouse index, I can be fairly certain just who—among births post-dating 1866, when the county began recording them—belonged to which Sarah Gordon.
That, however, brings up a different question: just who was this other George Gordon? And where does he fit into the family picture—if at all?