Three Little Words…

Experienced genealogists realize that truth sometimes requires the use of these three little words–“I Don’t Know.”

There is nothing dishonorable in using them, although some genealogists appear to be embarrassed, thinking that to say “I don’t know” is to admit ignorance. It takes time to form an opinion, to make conclusions that will stand the test of time. Fast and furious does not find hard-to-find ancestors.

“I don’t know” can give you time to research; time to  answer the questions that appear when you are inclined to say “I just don’t know.”

When we jump to a conclusion before doing research we tend to look for evidence that supports our beliefs and ignores facts that contradict them, says Guy P. Harrison, author of Good Thinking. “This deprives us of the opportunity to grow our knowledge.”  [Redbook, March 2016, p. 109.]

Its not what you think you know, its what you are willing to learn.

Tennessee has suffered much record loss, resulting in many good ancestors being lost from sight. Fast and furious too often glosses over the surviving records without sufficient concern for evidence that can be found in those records.

  • Take the time to study it out.
  • Read what has been left behind for you to use.
  • Consider where the ancestor comes from and where he ends up.
  • Who does he surround himself with?
  • What do later records have to say about him, especially those in jurisdictions that have not lost their records?

Genealogists, faced with basic records that are gone, have been abstracting other sources not used before–like land survey and warrant records. Like state military files and short lists that can fill the spot of missing census records.

It is time to return to Tennessee to look for your hard-to-find ancestors–those you could not find before. Take another look. What sources are now available to identify and trace them with? Take another look.

Or hire me to do it for you. Your favorite Tennessee researcher, Arlene Eakle

PS And tune in off and on to this blog for solid recommendations of where to look.


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