Several times in this blog I have discussed the need to have and display proof of your research data. ‘To have’ means you have that proof. ‘To display’ it means others can evaluate those proofs and take comfort in the accuracy of your work.
The Proof Standard is:
• Conduct reasonably exhaustive search
• Collect complete and accurate citations
• Analyze and correlate all information
• Resolve all conflicts
• Arrive at a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion
The best book on the subject is Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian, 124 pages by Elizabeth S. Mills.
My most frustrating and personal experience is the following:
According to White, Scott and Allied Families by Emma Siggins White, the famous “Breeches Bible” of William White has been preserved. This Bible is an edition of the Genevan version, known as the “Breeches Bible” as it used “breeches” instead of “aprons” in Gen. iii, 7. This Bible was printed in London in 1588, and is filled with records of the White and Brewster families. According to these records the book was owned by William White in England in 1608, and was brought over in the Mayflower. It has a record of the birth of Peregrine White, the first child of English parents born in this country. “Sonne born to Susanna White dec 19, 1620. yt six o’clock morning.” There are some childish pictures and scribbling in the book, including a caricature of Peregrine, a sketch of a meeting house, and an Indian drawing his bow. The book was owned in 1895 by S. W. Cowles of Hartford, Connecticut.
Now I need to tell you that Emma Siggins White’s book is hardbound, 346 pages which include many quotes, citations, family crests and numerous family off-shoots, and printed by Tiernan-Dart Printing Company of Kansas City, Missouri in 1920.
And I probably don’t need need to tell you that this was a most exciting find for me.
But here next is a summary of my research, we can even call it proof as the Proof Standard was clearly met, although on the wrong side of the ledger.
Subsequent research proved the Bible a fake. S. W. Cowles bought it in 1892 from a Manchester, CT bookseller named Charles M. Taintor (who would be a cousin of William White as well as of this Compiler, see the Taintor chapter) for $12.00. He donated it by his will to a son and it ended up in California with his surviving wife. She gave or sold it to a lady in Texas by the name of Miriam Lutcher Stark who in turn donated it to the University of Texas. John B. Thomas, III removed it years later from a book cart in the University Library, became interested and determined it was a fake. See B737 for the research papers associated with this effort.
Yes, disappointing, but I can hold my head high as the standard has been met. Grandchildren will not perpetuate a myth.