Family Stories

Go To The Original Records!

My friend at work has been interested in genealogy research for several months now.  She had some of the basic information for the first couple of generations from other family members, but was anxious to go back further.  Her sons gave her a subscription to Ancestry.com for mother’s day!  In tracing her Horn line back through Mercer County, she had a bit of a problem finding the parents for John Horn, who was born in December of 1843.  A family tree on Ancestry gave his parents name as John Horn and Hannah Gabbard (also written as Gabhart).  In the 1850 census baby John, now 7 years of age, was living with Elijah Gabbard, Hannah’s father.  In the 1860 census he is living with another family – I believe Elijah had died by this point in time.

But there was not a marriage certificate to be found for John Horn and Hannah Gabbard.  I encouraged my friend to go to the original records – always the best source for information – verified information.  On her first visit she came back with an inventory for Hannah Horn – John Horn died in the summer of 1843, just about six months after their marriage on February 21st – and Hannah died just a few years later.  On another trip she found guardianship records listing Elijah Gabbard as guardian for baby John, and notes for various years for payments from Hannah’s estate for this purpose.

Earlier this week my friend came into the office triumphant, displaying a piece of paper with the evidence shown in the two pictures in this post – Hannah was not a Gabbard, she was Hannah May.  Her father, William May, gave his permission for the marriage, and a James May – possibly a brother or an uncle – signed with John Horn as bondsman!  Proof at last – and also proof that you can’t trust everything you see in a family tree on Ancestry!  I’m not saying everything in someone’s family tree is wrong – of course not!  But we do have to investigate and find out for ourselves if a piece of information is correct – and the best place to do that is with the original records.

As for Elijah Gabbard – why was he chosen as guardian for baby John, and why did he take care of Hannah’s estate?  Perhaps he was Hannah’s uncle, or just a good friend of the family.  That may take a bit more digging!  Happy researching to you!

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