Just a little tale of my activities today.
Between writing, creating art, singing, and reading, I like to spend down-time researching my family history. It is a long term project that I have been working on since my late teens. In those days I was reduced to wandering dusty university libraries (ah, I still remember the delightful aroma of leather-bound tomes) looking for old digests and annuals that might provide clues. Now I do most of my work online.
Brick walls tend to turn up all the time when chasing ancestors and their families. It’s kind of expected. But the good news is that more information is constantly being loaded onto the internet and, even if it isn’t, a few months can give you a fresh set of eyes. So it was about time today to do such a review.
Ancestry.com.au is home to my tree. I have several hundred of mine and my wife’s family listed, some branches going back to the 1600s and one to the 1500s. According to DNA my Long family were originally an O’Long family from Ireland. The paper trail does not reach that far back, ending in Norfolk around Downham Market for the past few hundred years. This said, Long is a very common name and the major issue with research is determining which Longs are my Longs.
Today’s uncertainty was a minor one in the scheme of things. I had taken some information about my great grandfather’s brothers from another genealogist a few years back and wanted to associate some hard data with it. Ancestry.com has scanned images of such data: e.g. baptisms, marriages, censuses, and so on. Anyway, two of my great grandfather’s brothers were Amos A Long and Alphenous A Long. According to this other genealogist’s information they were born in the same year. Twins? That would explain both names starting with A (maybe).
The problem was that I could find a lot about Amos but very little about Alphenous. Even the British Newspaper Archive did not mention him. So I checked the death registers in case he died young. No. I checked the census records and could find him only mentioned in 1871 as an 11 year old. Hmmmm.
This is where the fresh set of eyes came in. My brain suddenly thought “Could they actually be the same person?”
You know the joke about two people being the same person because no one has ever seen them in the same room together? I wondered if that were the case. So I started checking the records again. Sure enough, wherever, Amos appeared there was no Aphenous and where there was Aphenous there was no Amos. Yhis suggested that I was correct. So I started looking for more concrete proof to support my hypothesis.
BANG! I hit pay dirt. I found a record that mentioned Amos Aphenous Long. One person.
So there you go. I merged the two records on Ancestry and now my tree is just that little bit more accurate.
Now I just have to figure out what crazy reason lay behind the middle name Aphenous. It could be anything from the maiden name of an ancestor, to someone’s grandfathers name, to even the name of a local celebrity. Perhaps a tale for another day.
Thanks for reading.