At the Historian’s meeting at the Triennial Congress in September 2011, the staff at the Historian General’s office reviewed several common documentation problems that can result in a rejected application. Make sure this does not happen to you!
1. Relying on a single secondary source to link the line carriers - the link between the line carriers is the most important part of your lineage to prove. Primary documentation is the best to make the link, but if you have to rely on secondary sources, you must have more than one good secondary source to corroborate the link.
2. Including documentation that doesn’t support your line - remember, the document has to say what you are trying to prove! Census records from 1850-1870 include all the names in the household but no relationships so they are not sufficient to link line carriers.
3. Same name, wrong person - just because you have a John Smith in MA in 1800 and a John Smith in OH in 1850 does not mean they are the same man. You need more documentation to show they are indeed the same person.
4. Geographic leaps - we know our ancestors had to migrate from MA to OH, but make sure the path and the dates make sense!
5. Age discrepancies - make sure the ages of the parents make sense in relation to the birth date of the next generation.
6. Multiple marriages - all marriages for both the line carrier and the spouse should be noted. If Jane Doe married John Grey, but her death certificate says Jane White, you need to document when and how her name changed with marriage, divorce and death records.
7. Missing maiden names - this is particularly critical when the line carrier is female. Say Jane Doe is your line carrier and you are trying to document that John Smith Jr. was her son. If his birth record just says his parents were John and Jane Smith without her maiden name, you cannot be sure that John Sr. had not married twice to women named Jane without more proof.
8. Records from other generations - just because Jane Doe and John Smith were listed as the parents of Mary Smith does not prove that they were married or anything else about them.
9. Blank spaces - there should be no blank spaces in the documentation column where you have a place or date listed - you found that information somewhere. If your source is not admissible, we will put the data in [ ] to show that it is unproven.
10. Incomplete last three generations - make sure you have all applicable birth, marriage and death certificates for the last three generations. If events in previous generations occurred after such certificates were required by the state, we need to have them also. Remember to get long form certificates with parents’ names!