The post for today is more of a general tutorial lesson in genealogy.
I’ve been doing family history research for over 30 years now. Research was slow going “back in the day.” With so many archives online, genealogy websites too, searching today has never been easier. Historians sharing their trees and what they have discovered for all to utilize is another big advantage.
Or is it?
When I post blog pieces, I don’t do it willy-nilly. I generally have research and sources. I try to attach evidence to show I am not making up the narrative. I have annoyed so many family members. I have found paper trails of uncomfortable truths. And on the flip side, I won’t publish stories of rumored lore that I cannot prove. Luckily, I never said we were descended from Fray Francisco Silvestre Velez de Escalante. That was because I couldn’t prove it. And, we aren’t.
This leads me to Adela Ramirez.
Escalante’s do not know who she is. She sits on a leaf on a far branch of the family tree. She is the adopted daughter of Juan Ramirez. He was the cad who our great-grandmother Mariana Bustamante left her husband Leonardo Escalante for. He also left Mariana with their daughter to marry another woman, but that story is in the archives.
Over on Ancestry, there are many family trees with Adela on them. She is a leaf in many trees. She doesn’t have descendants. As far as I can tell, she married, Jean Baptiste Lambert, lost a baby, and was divorced. Adela kept her married name of Lambert whenever she is listed in later years. She lived with her brother’s family in 1940. Suddenly, Adela disappeared. There were no more leads.
In 2013, someone posted that the Adela Ramirez’s death date below was the one for which we were searching.
Find a Grave was helpful in providing a photo of the gravesite at Westminister Memorial Park in Long Beach, CA.
I had three questions about this. One, if this was actually her, when did Adela decide to give up the name Lambert? Two, who is the beloved sister mentioned on the stone? Any siblings Adela had were already dead. Three, on 4 other sources, in all of these trees, her birth year was 1886, not 1888.
Collectively, these red flags have been bugging me.
For a really long time. Almost 10 years.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I sent away for this Adela’s death certificate. I feel bad for saying it, but I was hoping the person on these trees was wrong.
I was right.
The above certificate came in the mail this week. The parents were not Juan Ramirez and Rosa Bustamante as our Adela’s were. This woman was born in Mexico, while ours was born in Los Angeles. This woman was widowed, ours was divorced. A living sister purchased that gravestone. They are not the same person.
I see the simplicity of using the State of California’s Death Index, and a photo of the grave of that person as documentation. It’s nice to find all the information at your fingertips. “It mostly fits together.” On my husband’s tree, I have a group of folks insistent that this woman Esther was their great-great grandmother. That woman lived in Indiana not Ohio. An entirely different state! That is really trying to make it fit. I’ve given up that fight. I just shake my head.
I’m using this example for those of family researchers who have a “gut feeling” about something. You never want to take other people’s research at face value. Note their work. See if you can make the connections they did. Do your own research to get to their same conclusions. If the answers are really clear cut, it should be easy to find.
If you think that something isn’t right, order the paperwork! We are always wanting to find “the source” of information that is key to our moving forward. But also knowing that a source is wrong can be just as important. OR – and I say this with all sincerity – you can even leave the spots on your tree blank if you don’t have a provable answer. It’s better to share accurate information. Eventually you will stumble across the answer or someone else will help out. Patience is a virtue in this hobby.
Do your own research. Trust your own little voice. It’s the best way to learn and to grow as a family historian.