The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

One of the most frustrating things about researching a family history is the fact that so-called "facts" change with every telling of a story. It's something like that game called "Telephone" that many of us played as kids -- one person whispers a sentence in another person's ear and it gets passed around the circle until it comes back to the beginning -- it's rarely the same sentence when said out loud. And so it is with genealogy.

I grew up under the impression that my great, great grandmother was a full-blood Cherokee, married to a white man, and living on a reservation in the Oklahoma Indian Territories. I knew that my great grandmother was born in Oklahoma Territory in 1906, and that her family had moved to Texas by covered wagon when she was very young. I was intrigued by her story, and always wanted to know more, but never asked.

In 1997, I became determined to learn as much about my family history as I could. I soon discovered that my grandmother had been doing research of her own, and I convinced her to send me a packet of material about her mother's family. Most of her information had come by word of mouth, as she had no experience on the internet, and she had yet to find many of the genealogical treasures it has to offer. She surprised me by revealing that the Native American grandmother was not my great, great grandmother, as I had come to believe, but rather my great great great grandmother. Unfortunately, she had been stumped trying to find out more information about her.

The name she had on record for this elusive grandmother was "Telitha". Some family members claimed she was a Cherokee, but others claimed she was Choctaw. My grandmother knew the name of her husband, Isaac Denson Daniell, and even the county where they were married, so she sent away to the courthouse for a marriage license under his name. Isaac had been married before, so my grandmother wasn't surprised to find a licence for his first wife, Falba, but she was completely taken aback by discovery of another record for a license to a woman named "Elizabeth Burket".

Beginning genealogists tend to make a lot of mistakes. I know I've made more than a few of my own. One of the most common mistakes is making assumptions. My grandmother had her ancestor listed as Telitha. Therefore, it was easy to assume that Elizabeth was yet another wife, one our Isaac must have married sometime between Falba and Telitha. He had three wives. The children born during a certain time period must have been Elizabeth's children. The one's born later were Telitha's. Assumptions always lead to more assumptions. Eventually we wound up with an entire family tree made up of assumptions that bore little resemblance to the truth.

Unfortunately, I contributed to the problem by making another of the most common mistakes: basing my own records on word-of-mouth without supporting proof. I used every bit of information my grandmother and other family members provided as though it was the gospel truth. I did not document sources. I did not find proof. I loaded it all up in my genealogy software, uploaded it to my website, and shared it with the world, thinking to myself I had done a good job. Boy, was I wrong!

Years later, I am still trying to clean up the mess that is my family tree. And what happened to the Native American grandmother? We still don't have any proof that she was Native American, but her name was Elizabeth Burket, the second wife of Isaac D. Daniell, and I am determined to learn as much about her as possible.

If I've lead you to erroneous information in the past, please accept my sincerest apologies. This website is an attempt to correct as much of that misinformation as possible, as well as gather new information that I can pass along. Just remember, cite your sources and verify everything yourself!

We Might be Cousins!

Do you think we share a family connection? Let me know! My goal is to gather as much information as possible about every branch of our family tree. I'm interested in descendants as well as ancestors, living as well as deceased. I like to include as much detail as possible, including nicknames, hobbies, occupations, religious affiliations, friends, etc. No snippet of information is irrelevant. You never know what might be a vital clue!

Please cite your sources whenever possible, even if it's just word of mouth. After my hard-learned lesson about taking information at face value, I will never include anything in my records without being able to verify the source. So if "Uncle Bill" from Tulsa told you grandma was born in Ohio, please give me Uncle Bill's name and address, so I can ask him about her myself.

When sharing photos, please send only digital copies of original photographs. Please do not send paper copies that you have printed yourself at home. I keep all my heirloom photos in a digital archive and "print" them as needed with a professional photographic service. Scanning a copy of a scan that someone printed at home makes for a pretty lousy photo. Also, please do not send low resolution photos (less than 150dpi) -- I need higher resolutions (preferably 300dpi or better) in order to print them for my files.

Finally, I love sharing my findings with other researchers, and will be more than happy to send you copies of anything in my files, but please be kind and share your findings with me as well. The whole point of genealogical research is to make a connection to your past, share it with people in the present, and preserve it for the future. If you hoard your information and only dole it out sparingly, you are missing the whole point.

If you have information on any of my family lines, please email me!

We might be cousins!

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