I see on some websites where the folks who do their genealogy say "if you don't have the facts, it's fiction" or words that have that meaning. Then I read and I usually find something I think is suspect. But, I probably have a lot of fiction in my work because it starts with what people tell you and what has been handed down. That's where you go after the facts though. But you can make a pretty good story using "facts".
I was working on Virgina Gibson's great grandfather, Charles Shueman. Mrs. Gibson was my brother-in-law, Dave Schenck's mother. I was really looking for his wife, Louisa's last name. I struck out there, but I found that I didn't have that much on Charles himself.
I had Charles and Louisa in the 1880 census in Cincinnati. He was 42, she was 44 and their son, John was 13. Charles was listed as a baker. Charles and Louisa were born in Prussia (Germany) and John was born in Ohio.
I didn't find them in the 1870 census.
There is no 1890 census.
In the 1900 census I found a Charley Shuman who was 62 and born in Germany. He was widowed and living in Mud Springs, El Dorado, California working as a gold ore miner.
Huh. How interesting. Digging on I found a military enlistment record for a Charles Schuman from June 23, 1868 in Louisville, Kentucky. He was born in Germany, was a shoemaker by trade and had hazel eyes, brown hair, fair complexion and stood 5 feet 5 inches.
Now that could be Dave's Charles Shuman, or it could be a Charles Shuman who was married to a Caroline and worked in a carpet shop in 1900.
And I found other Charles Schumans in California who were not quite the right age in previous census files, but the ages vary so much from one census to another that you can't take it as gospel.
So, that's where it gets hard for me to pin things down on a family unless the family knows some history. Otherwise you could make up a good story that says
"My great great grandfather was named Charles Schuman. He was born in Germany and married a woman named Louisa. They came to America in 1866. Louisa was pregnant and delivered her first child, John Carl in 1867. Having come into the country at the end of the civil war, Charles felt a duty to enlist in the army and did so on June 23, 1868. In 1880 he and his family were in Cincinnati, Ohio where Charles worked as a baker. John married Cora Estell Geeting on May 22, 1889 in Dark County,Ohio. He and Cora had four children, but only one of them was living by the 1900 census. John's mother had died before 1900, too. Charles, a widower, had taken off for California and was mining for gold. The family never heard from him again."
Nice little story, but without family input, I can't say any of it is true. Some families are harder to follow than others.
In my family I have a grandpa that online many people have that he died in Wisconsin. He is my Hays line. He was the father of Rebecca Hays who married James Mullins when she was 19 and he was 72. I can follow John from Kentucky to Virginia and back to Kentucky and then I lose him. His first wife, Athaliea Mullins, dies and he marries a "Nancy" whose last name I have not discovered, but is the same age as his daughter, Rebecca. It happens in that 20 year timeframe between 1880 and 1900 when there is no census to follow. I just can't see John moving to Wisconsin. Why? I have never heard it family legend wise. There was some who moved to Wisconsis and back to Kentucky, but I can't even think of the name of that group and I believe they were a spouse who divorced one in our family and I just followed them to see where they went and what happened to them, but other than them, I don't know of family who went to Wisconsin. I keep meaning to find the entry on John Hays and look in the census records to see if there weren't already a John Hays living in that area in early census records just like the carpet shopt Schuman who probably is the one who enlisted in the army.
Sure would be nice to know the truth.