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A question about proof


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#1 Don Newcomb

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 05:25 PM

Here's a logic question. Assume I have two published genealogies, Smith and Brown. The Smith Genealogy says that John Smith married Mary Brown in West Podunk on 6 Aug 1802 and that Mary was possibly the daughter of Robert Brown. The Brown Genealogy says that Mary Brown married John Smith, who might have been the son of James Smith, in W. Podunk on 6 Aug 1802. Both genealogies have these parents of the respective bride and groom but the Smith Genealogy does not go past their marriage.

To what extent do the two, taken together, show that John Smith, the son of James, married Mary Brown, the daughter of Robert? I realize that both are secondary sources.

#2 TomH

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 07:58 PM

They are certainly no proof, separately or together. If you can be certain that the two genealogies were developed independently and with no cross reference or shared sources, the probability should be higher than for either one alone.

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#3 Esse

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 07:59 AM

Here's a logic question. Assume I have two published genealogies, Smith and Brown. The Smith Genealogy says that John Smith married Mary Brown in West Podunk on 6 Aug 1802 and that Mary was possibly the daughter of Robert Brown. The Brown Genealogy says that Mary Brown married John Smith, who might have been the son of James Smith, in W. Podunk on 6 Aug 1802. Both genealogies have these parents of the respective bride and groom but the Smith Genealogy does not go past their marriage.

To what extent do the two, taken together, show that John Smith, the son of James, married Mary Brown, the daughter of Robert? I realize that both are secondary sources.


First off, just because something gets published (by whom, and sourced how?) doesn't necessarily make it correct. At first sight I'd be inclined to suspect that one of these had used the other as their source.
Then there's some doubt expressed anyway - "possibly the daughter of" and "might have been the son of" which would need further exploring.

So, I agree with Tom, without more information about the source(s) each genealogy was based upon I'd feel it was case unproved and want to check the evidence.

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#4 leeirons

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 02:33 PM

So, I agree with Tom, without more information about the source(s) each genealogy was based upon I'd feel it was case unproved and want to check the evidence.

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Even if the two pdeigree publications agreed, it would still be unproven until YOU have sources from which you glean evidence that enables an analysis that leads to a conclusion, with all four documented in your own database and subsequent publications of your data.