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Friday, October 24, 2014

Research Tip:

It’s very important to look at each item of information thoroughly – at some point - and to:

  • decide how accurate the information is;
  • see if the information leads to additional sources;


When we find a bit of family information we’ve been looking for, we often take it at face value, don’t question it and accept it as it is.

We look for an ancestor that lived in a particular place in approximately a particular time.  We find a person, in that place, in that time with that name and almost always assume that we’ve found the person we’re looking for.  And, maybe we did -- and, maybe we didn't

But, after years of research, one finds that in any particular period of time, there are often many, many people with the same name, living near enough, and close enough in time, to possibly be the person we’re looking for.  It’s a mistake to accept one piece of information as valid and correct without looking at it more closely and without looking for corroborating documentation.

In addition, it’s a hard lesson to learn but many records, even original documents, have errors.  People can be forgetful; people can be careless. Just because it's an official document doesn't make it correct.

I’ve had a variety of disagreements with other researchers of my various families over particular bits of information but, most seriously, about the parentage of one particular individual or another.  If people are not careful about the information they accept as correct; if they share that erroneous information with others, soon the amount of misinformation has multiplied making it more and more difficult to find the correct data.

I hope the following analysis of the indicated record will show how I go about determining if the information in any particular record or document is valid and how it leads me to additional research:

Analysis of the Charles DOUGHERTY entry in Presidents, Soldiers, Statesmen Vol. II, Hardesty, Publishers, 1896.

A work in progress


“Son of the late Gilbert and Mary (GARRISON) DOUGHERTY, was born at Shandaken, Ulster Co., N.Y., Sept. 16, 1843, and was a farmer, residing at Ashland, Greene county, when he enlisted in Brooklyn, N.Y., Feb. 27, 1865, as a private in Co. I, 80th N.Y. Vol. Inf.  His enlistment was too late for him to see much active service, but after the close of the war, he was on provost guard duty at Suffolk, N.C., where he remained until near the time of his discharge, which was received at Hart’s Island, N.Y., Feb. 20, 1866.  Mr. DOUGHERTY married at Ashland, Sept. 17, 1863, Frances Victoria OLIVER, daughter of Ezra and Esther (CRANDALL) OLIVER, both deceased.  They have had seven children – Albert, William, Joseph J., Lewis, Josephine, Lizzie May and Harper R.  Mr. DOUGHERTY had five brothers in the service; Henry, William, James and John in Infantry Regts., and Romaine in the Cavalry.  Mrs. DOUGHERTY’s brother, Alanson OLIVER, died at Hart’s Island; her grandfather, Elnathan CRANDALL, was a Revolutionary soldier, and her uncle, William OLIVER, served in the Florida War.  Mr. DOUGHERTY’s grandfather, Garrison DOUIGHERTY, was also a Revolutionary soldier.  He is a pensioner and a member of Martin Hallett Post, 462, G.A.R., Dept. of New York.  His occupation is that of a farmer and his post office address is Hedgesville, Steuben co., N.Y.”
  •  “[Charles was born, son of Gilbert Dougherty and Mary Garrison,] Shandaken, Sept. 16, 1843.”

The 1850 US Census, Ulster Co., Shandaken: (Sept. 26th) indicates a slight error in the above record; calculating that Charles had been born 6 years before Sept. 26, 1850, he would have been born in 1844.  The date of the census, Sept. 26, was 10 days after the previous record’s proposed birthdate.  He would have been 5, on Sept. 16, 1850.  

            Gilbert, 46, farmer
            Mary, 46
            William, 23
            Henry, 21
            Sarah A., 19
            John, 17
            James, 15
            Elizabeth, 13
            Malissa, 11
            Romeyn, 8
            Charles, 6
            Mary, 3
            Sybil, 1

The following military record indicates the same birth year.
  •  “…residing at Ashland, Greene county, when he enlisted in Brooklyn, N.Y., Feb. 27, 1865, as a private in Co. I, 80th N.Y., Vol. Inf.”

Verified by (except residence is incorrect in above entry)
New York, Town Clerks' Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War, ca 1861-1865, 39-40 as seen at Ancestry.com:  (this is a transcription)

Line 6

Dougherty, Charles Wesley
Residence:  Shandaken, Ulster Co.
Born Sept. 16, 1844, Shandaken, NY
Enlisted as Pvt, 13th Artillery, enlisted Feb. 1865, mustered in ? 1865, for 1 year in NYC. White, no relief granted, married.  Laborer, father:  Gilbert DOUGHERTY, mother Mary GARRISON, Transferred to Co. I, 20th NYSM Infantry.  Still in service at point of this entry.

Also, in this source and record are the registrations of Charles’ brothers:  Henry, James, John, William and (interestingly) Elbert Romayne; all of whom registered at different times.  This record doesn’t show the exact date of enlistment, nor the Co.  There is some discrepancy between the 2 records in terms of enlistment date, regiment and Co.  Comparing the letter of the company with other capital letters on the page, I did change my first impression from Co. J to Co. I, which brings me into agreement with the other record.  Again, comparing the # of the regiment to which he was transferred to other numbers on the page, I disagree with the other record that indicates it as 80th NY Vol. Infantry; none of the 8s on the page look similar and, while a bit too elaborate, it is a 2 and the regiment is the 20th.  In this record, the regiment is indicated as the 20th NYSM.  After much discussion online about the significance of the M and after visiting the regimental page of The New York State Military Museum, The agreement is that the M signifies Militia or Volunteer; therefore, in agreement with the other record.

Qualifying these investigations with the caveat that many documents contain one, if not multiple errors; it is therefore, important to find as many documents as possible to try to reach matching information which might be more trusted.
  • “His enlistment was too late for him to see much active service, but after the close of the war, he was on provost guard duty at Suffolk, N.C., where he remained until near the time of his discharge, which was received at Hart’s Island, N.Y., Feb. 20, 1866.”

I have no records, so far, to address Charles’ service as provost guard or his assignment to Suffolk, N.C.  I might find additional records, in the future, that verify this.  He was still in service at the date of the previous record so there is no discharge information in that record.
  • “Mr. DOUGHERTY married at Ashland, Sept. 17, 1863, Frances Victoria OLIVER, daughter of Ezra and Esther (CRANDALL) OLIVER, both deceased.”

The corroboration for the marriage date, so far, is from a family member and from apparent agreement in census records.  Family information and census records also seem to verify Frances OLIVERs parentage, although until receiving this record, we had no idea of Esther’s maiden name which has since been verified by several additional sources.
  •  “They (Charles and Frances) have had seven children – Albert, William, Joseph J., Lewis, Josephine, Lizzie May and Harper R.”

The children are verified by several census records with the addition of John and George.
  •  “Mr. DOUGHERTY had five brothers in the service; Henry, William, James and John in Infantry Regts., and Romaine in the Cavalry.”

This information is verified by similar records in the above source:  New York, Town Clerks' Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War, ca 1861-1865, with one interesting addition, Romayne’s record indicates that his name was Elbert Romayne.
  •  “Mrs. DOUGHERTY’s (Frances Victoria OLIVER) brother, Alanson OLIVER, died at Hart’s Island; her grandfather, Elnathan CRANDALL, was a Revolutionary soldier, and her uncle, William OLIVER, served in the Florida War.”

There’s a great deal of data in this sentence:

The first error is Alanson OLIVER’s place of death.  Military records, in my possession, indicate that Alanson died, Feb. 1, 1865, St. John’s Hospital, Annapolis, MD.  He did serve in the military.

On receipt of the entry of Charles DOUGHERTY in Presidents, Soldiers, Statesmen, I began looking for Elnathan CRANDALL who, as Frances' grandfather, would have been her mother's brother.  Initially, I found nothing.  Then, I found several individuals with the same name.  The first Elnathan CRANDALL I encountered could not have been Frances OLIVER’s grandfather because he was born within a year or two of her mother and might have been a brother or cousin of her mother, Esther.  I have not yet identified the possible Elnathan, nor have I found an Elnathan CRANDALL in the Revolution.  More work is needed before accepting this piece of information, that he was Esther/Hester CRANDALL’s father.

On first reading and several subsequent readings of the entry, I assumed that William OLIVER was Frances OLIVER’s brother and clearly hadn’t read closely enough.  There are 4 William OLIVERs in the family tree, so far.  She didn’t have a brother named William.  The entry indicates he was her uncle.  For him to be her uncle, he had to have been her father’s brother.  Therefore, I have to assume that Ezra OLIVER, her father, had to have had a brother, William.  Since we don’t know Ezra OLIVER’s parentage, we also don’t know William’s.  However, If William served in the military, there may be a record which gives the names of his parents, and, therefore, Ezra’s.  This will extend the OLIVER family tree another generation and, perhaps, reveal more.  It may also be possible to find a William OLIVER living near Ezra OLIVER on one or more of the censuses; I haven’t checked yet.

It says William OLIVER served in the Florida War; there were several.  It will be necessary to figure out which one. 

I’m not currently interested in the rest of the entry since I’m related to Charles DOUGHERTY only through his marriage to Frances Victoria OLIVER.  Sometimes, it’s important and even necessary to research the families of in-laws in order to discover more about the target family.  I don’t expect that to be the case in this instance.








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