In Those Darn Wells’ .. The Problem, I detailed a family lineage error that is at about 150 years old, an unfortunate error that has been perpetuated in books, letters and online trees. After a trip to Salt Lake City I returned home with 9.85GB of data distributed between 35 PDF’s and 1,662 photos. Where to even start?
We started by creating a new family tree (called Those Darn Wells’). We are using RootsMagic as it easily allows you to have one file that contains multiple trees. We started our tree with our (hopefully) ultimate destination: “Our Richard Wells” tree. This tree contains 17 people, spread among 11 families.
The next stand-alone tree we added was the documentation of the Dr Richard Wells family (Col. George Wells parents), and their tree. Where did we get this information? One of the sources we made photocopies of in the Salt Lake City, from a book “Anne Arundel Gentry, A Genealogical History of Some Early Families of Anne Arundel County, Maryland” by Harry Wright Newman published in 1971. The biography is on pages 496-516, and added 25 new families and 39 new people.
The trick with this overwhelming quantity of data is to take each stand-alone fragment and and create a “little tree” that only contains the people mentioned in the fragment. Examine these entries for a Richard Jr, Thomas, William and William Wells.
From these entries I can create 4 tiny trees for the cited events that occurred in Baltimore County, Md:
- Richard Wells Jr whose wife is Jane Renshaw, daughter of Jane Renshaw (we don’t know who here husband is yet), who left her granddaughters Cassandra, Laurana, Elizabeth and Susanna an inheritance on 07 Aug 1754 (2 families, 7 people)
- Thomas Wells married Elizabeth Howard, daughter of Joshua Howard on 16 Sep 1736 (2 families, 3 people)
- William Wells married Sarah Jenkins, daughter of William Jenkins on 04 Sep 1760 (2 families, 3 people)
- William Wells married Fenecil [Rachel?] Jenkins, daughter of William Jenkins on 01 Sep 1763 (2 families, 3 people)
Notice we created two different William Wells trees. Nothing in this information tells us that it is the same William marrying two different daughters of William Jenkins. In fact, unless we do some additional research, we don’t know that this is even the same William Jenkins. Instead, it may be two completely different families. So, until we have additional information, these are 4 families, with some information, but we do not yet combine the William Wells or the William Jenkins families!
Our hope is that over the next weeks and months, as we assemble additional fragments of names from the gathered sources including: deeds, taxes, marriages, births, deaths, estates/probate and other records that these “little families” will assemble themselves into fewer larger families, as we figure out family relationships, and we hope that by the end of this process we will discover whose family “our Richard Wells” belongs too (if any).
More to come ..