“So What Makes You So Sure You’ve Knocked Down a Brick Wall?”

Remember the The Wrong Longs?

Third in a multi-part series
One of my other great-grandfathers on my mother’s side was named James William Long.  As with Richard William Gines, I set out to find the parents of James Long.  That search seemed like a stroll in the park compared to this one!  I quickly found a James Long in Kansas City, born 1863, and settled on his family as my ancestors.  I was quite proud of myself for the rapid, yet clever, methods I had used to find them.  Case closed.

Only the thing was . . . they were the wrong Longs! Many months later, I discovered this minor inconvenience and had to start over again to find the right Longs.

So you rightfully ask how I can be so sure that  I’ve got the right family this time.  And I explain as follows:

There were several key factors that I had to understand here, not the least which was the name variation issue.   I also had to understand the plantation system as it existed in Louisiana [being very different from Virginia or South Carolina].  And I had to comprehend family naming patterns.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the evidence.

The “known facts”–really just assumptions–were that Richard Gines was born in about 1860 in  Caddo Parish or more likely in Bossier Parish.

Some of the other known facts were the vital data with respect to other discovered individuals named Gines.

Here is the 1870 census page for Caddo Parish which shows George Guion and his family.

It’s been cut, cropped, and pasted for convenience of viewing.  Click on it for a larger image and study it for a moment. Our declaration of paternity rests heavily on this document.  To show why, let’s manipulate the data a little bit.  Let’s put aside the name/spelling variation for the time being and suppose the census page read thusly:


You can also click on this for ease of study.  We’ve standardized the name, but otherwise the data is the same as enumerated in 1870.

Now let’s pull into an 1870 census form some “known” facts.   That page would look like this:


The two parents are unknown, of course. But the rest of the known data looks like this:  Dick Gines is on the 1880 census as 20 years old, so here we’ve made him 10 years old. Ed Gines has his age noted a couple ways in records after 1870, but the closest to 1870 would be the 1880 census where he is described as being 21 years old.  That’s a likely  number, plus or minus, since Bossier Parish marriage records show him getting married in 1879.    As for Wes and Oscar, we discover that by 1880, Dinah is no longer with George (he may be deceased), but is married to a man named Peter Taylor.  The boys are identified as Taylor’s sons and are tagged with the name Taylor.  And Wes Taylor is 13 (exactly ten years older than Wes Gines was in 1870) and Oscar Taylor is 11 years old, exactly ten years older than Oscar Gines was in 1870.

[We know that Wes and Oscar did not continue to use the name “Taylor.”  We know this because no other Wes or Oscar Taylors of these ages appear again in the census records in Louisiana.  We also know that Oscar Gines married  Morilla James in 1886–he’s the father of the Oscar Gines found living at Dick Gines’ home in 1917. Wes Gines married Elvira Stump (Lewis) in 1896.  The marriage records refer to Wes as “Gion” and Oscar as “Gines.”]

I mentioned family naming patterns as part of the “known.”  Dick Gines, whose name was “Richard William Gines,” named one of his sons “William Edward,” he being my grand-father, who named one of his sons “Richard Edward.”  My grandfather also named one of his sons, “Perry Wesley.”   And as I noted above, Oscar Gines named his son “Oscar,” and he is found living with Dick [when he, Oscar, was not being a guest of the State of Louisiana].

So does this stack up against the Genealogical Proof Standard?

We may not be quite ready to go there yet because we have a significant issue to resolve–the name variation issue.  The question is when is a variance in name a simple error in spelling, transcription or pronunciation and when is it a different name?

We’ll tackle that issue pretty soon, but next, I’ll pause to consider why genealogy is more like paleontology and cosmology than history.


3 Responses to ““So What Makes You So Sure You’ve Knocked Down a Brick Wall?””

  • Apple says:

    It certainly seems like the right family. I’ve seem some interesting name variations but how did they get Guion from Gines? Or visa versa. I’d be very comfortable going with this.

  • Felicia Mathis says:

    Had the same issue with my Long in Webster Parish, LA found Sam Long in the 1880 census with mom dad and siblings. Dads name was listed as Nelson Jr. and mom was listed as Mariah. Added Sam and family to my family tree since he Married my gg aunt Emma Robertson. I have spoken to one of the Long decendents trying to gather information on my Robertson line and Sam being her grandfather I was so sure that I had found the right Sam Long. She then burst my bubble and told me that Sam’s mother name was Georgia Dorothy Long not Mariah. WOW!! Back on the hunt for the right Sam Long!

  • Craig,

    Excellent detective work! I love finding clues and connecting them to help tell the family story. Naming patterns totally fascinate me, and I’m working on my own naming pattern brick wall right now.

    Eagerly Awaiting Your Next Installment,
    Caroline Pointer

August 2009
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