Always Double Check Your Indices
November 04, 2010
We are all human, and therefore, errors abound, even in genealogy.
I have found errors in so many databases, including Ancestry.com, the Missouri Death Certificates, and Jackson County Marriages. Recently, I came across a marriage record for an ancestor of mine, Thomas William McKinley. The funny thing was, I felt like I had seen it before. Let me explain. Thomas McKinley had been married twice, both times in West Virginia. Lucky for me, West Virginia has a searchable Marriage Records Database online. By searching his name, Thomas McKinley, I was only able to retrieve his first marriage. What I really wanted to find was the second marriage. So, I searched for just the grooms with the surname McKinley. With the new search, I happened upon a marriage record of a J.W. McKinley which I duly ignored because, well, that’s not the name I was looking for. It wasn’t until several months later that I was back on the same website, browsing names again that I thought I might check it out since the wife’s name was a match. Not only his wife’s name, but also the other information lined up correctly with my ancestor. After viewing the image of the actual record, I was able to determine that it was in fact Thomas William McKinley, and that he had been listed on the record as T.W. McKinley, which the indexer misread as J.W. McKinley. If I had paid attention the first time around, I would have found his second marriage much sooner. So, the moral of this story is always double check indices because everyone makes mistakes sometimes.
Midwest Genealogy Center