Friday, February 17, 2012

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - and the Gates Family

This week I am working on several projects. The first one completed was incorporating the information from for the Gates family. This came about because when I was working on the War of 1812 article about Ardil Gates, I borrowed two books from the GFO, Frederick J. Seaver, Historical Sketches Of Franklin County and Its Several Towns, and Silvio A. Bedini, Ridgefield in Review (Connecticut). Both are fantastic works, which provide information about the locality and the people who lived in the vicinity.

The first was published by J. B. Lyon Company, Albany, NY, 1918 and is available at the Library of Congress copyright free, and also at this link Frederick J. Seaver was a local newspaperman and he gleaned the history of the area in his many years of working there. This is the town where Ardil enlisted in the War of 1812 and two of his brothers are known to have lived here.

The second book was published by The Ridgefield 250th Anniversary Committee, Inc., Ridgefield, Connecticut, 1958. This is a fantastic history of the town where Ardil Gate's father and grandfather lived from about 1734 to 1793. This encompasses the Revolutionary War, in which his grandfather and family were involved. In reading the book, one discovers that the index is not all encompassing, and one must take notes of important information. Samuel Gates, the father of Ardil, is indexed on pages 57-58. For the time period he lived there, many other details help in understanding his life.

As I read the book, it became apparent that I needed a better understanding of the family. I had done some basic research on the family and even viewed the records at for further clues in the records, but I returned to the records with further understanding. Now that I have filled in the pedigree chart a little more, I have identified other localities that apply to this family.

There are some very notable errors in these records, but for the first three generations after Ardil it seems fairly accurate. The fourth generation is a mess and I will deal with it another time. The most glaring error for Simon Gates and Margaret Barslow is their first child, listed as Abraham born 2160 BC and died 1819 BC, to parents who were born in about 1637 and 1642. The second child is listed as Bartholomew, born about 1638, not a likely birth date given the parent's dates. Child number eleven is born in 1861 and died in 1737, probably not the correct dates.

To make matters worse for this family, there are four additional parents listed on the family page that are the same couple. The database will not allow them to be merged, as it would create too large a file. Each family group lists the children multiple times, some as many as ten. It will be a careful process to clean up this database. Soon it will open to the public and maybe the extra assistance will be the key to cleaning it up.

My serendipity moment came when I went back to check on the family of Ardil Gates. There I found my husband's great grandmother Roena Gates listed twice. Once correctly and then again, but as a male with the death date of her mother recorded for her death. We all make mistakes in this work, but things like this leave us shaking our heads. I sent an email to the contributor of the information requesting that she please make this change and to also contact me so we can collaborate on the family history. She promptly emailed me back for clarification and then said she would like to work together on this family.

That is one of the nicest features of the new.familysearch database, which will soon be incorporated into the family trees at It is important to be patient and tactful in suggesting the need for changes. We need to work together, to reach optimal success in our genealogies. The many wonderful records being made accessible will be important in this work, but the information found within common relatives homes are the real keys to success. Wishing you success in your work, both online and offline.

1 comment:

  1. The Frederick J. Seaver book is also available for free online, at the Internet Archive: