Golden Rule of Genealogy

So last week I am scanning the bible pages I have had in my possession for well over  year so that I can give them back to the owner.  Seems I keep forgetting and I think sooner or later  he’s going to send the genealogy police after me for stealing his old crumbly pages that (to me) are worth more than gold and was my holy grail.  Took me 10 years to find this bible and it turned up at a home less than a mile from where I’d been living!!

See, I am unlucky enough to research the surname Adams.  Why do I say I’m unlucky? BECAUSE THERE ARE A BLUE BILLION OF THEM and NONE of them are related to mine lol so looking at other peoples Adams research is pointless to me (though I do it anyway because I can’t be a pessimist all the time right?)  This bible is the family bible of ONE of the Adams families in Gwinnett Co Ga and the first birth in there is from 1777 (John Lewis born in SC, his daughter Amanda married Elijah Adams). Col. Adams, the current keeper of the grail, had taken the birth, death and marriage pages out of the crumbling 20 pound hunk of leather and pulp a long time ago to try to preserve them in plastic sheets. He let me “borrow” them about a year ago and of course as things happen they got put aside… I never forgot I had them but I thought maybe if I kept them out of site I wouldnt have to give them back (I’m only 1/2 jesting about that).

Friday before last, I’m looking thru obits in the Atlanta paper for the last couple of months, because Col. Adams is an older gentleman and I’m always trying to keep an eye out to see if he’s passed on.  I dont find his, but I find that his wife passed away in July, and well the guilt finally gets the best of me and I call the house to tell him I would like to bring the pages back to him.  Turns out this very nice 89 year old is out traveling and wont be back for several days, but his grandson assures me that he will tell the Col. to call me. I’m thinking great, this gives me a few days to take them to work and scan them with my new scanner.  I get them scanned and Im trying to tweak them for optimal appearance.  I have the birth page blown up 300% and I notice something.  These 10 plus years I’ve been looking at these I always thought that one of the births listed said Henry John Lewis 7-27-1818.  Well lo and behold at 300% I see the name is not Henry at all its MARY.    All this time I have been keeping my eye’s open for information on Henry John Lewis, son of John and Sarah Lewis, talk about feeling stupid (specially when you’re a person KNOWN for being able to decipher old handwriting when others cant. This also tells me that the person listed on the Death page as Mary J Martin must be her!!

It turns out that Monday (labor day) is the day that works for everyone for me to take the pages back to the Col.  I get there and his son is there and while we’ve never met, we’ve emailed a few times over the years.  It never occured to me to take my “book” of Adams research with me, I just took the bible pages back, and when John starts asking me some questions I totally blank (I’m sure Im not the only one that does that when you’re trying to remember something about you research that you normally know backwards and forwards by heart).  Well, I dont live that far from them so I offer to go back home and get my book so we can go through it.

When I get home Im going through my piles of Adams stuff, and out of the corner of my eye I catch a loose copy  of a page of  Franklin Garrett’s Cemetery Survey.  Its of a cemetery that Elijah Adams was buried in (thankfully Franklin did this back in 1939 when the stone was still readable, because now all the text is worn off the stone) but the page Im looking at is the page with the M’s. I’ve never needed the M page, but somehow back when I copied the survey I copied the entire cemetery, not just what I needed. On this M page I see the transcription “Martin, Mary John Lewis  b 7-27-1818 married John Martin 1841 died October 1847″

In 16 years I’ve never known that one of Amanda Lewis Adams sisters married and lived near her in Gwinnett Co. I thought she was the only Lewis here.

Mary John has been found on several census with all her children and they match all the other Martin’s listed on that cemetery page!!

Moral to the story…..PLEASE make sure you go back through your old notes every so often because you NEVER know whats going to pop up that never made sense to you before, but does NOW.  Though its not a direct line, I now have a whole new branch of the family to research, simply because of the bible page.

 Feel free to discuss here:

Golden Rule of Genealogy

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