Researching a person. ... how to get it wrong!.

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Saffron
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Researching a person. ... how to get it wrong!.

Post by Saffron » Sat Jun 15, 2019 2:27 am

I have been doing family history research for many years, and have not only researched my family but also other families and the men that died in my village in WWI which I have written a small book about.

One thing I quickly learnt when I started was how easy it was to make mistakes rl; Normally this was due to two people having the same name and you follow the wrong one ;;z
So the first rule is double check and cross reference everything.

I know nothing about Roman or hammered coins so can not contribute to threads on them. However if a thread involves a person that I can research I like to as not only do I enjoy some of the more obscure research challanges but it is also where I can use my expertise.

So the My favourite find thread caught my attention and I dived in and had great fun (and frustration!) researching it.

At the end I made this comment "I wonder what happened to him eventually", well eventually I fell for it and started to dig x;

We know his name Clarence Williams and from the court records that he was sentenced to life at the United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

So all it needs is a Google search and here is the result -
Name: CLARENCE LEE WILLIAMS
Age: 59
Colour: Black
Sex: Male
Date of release: 05/31/1985


Oh its so simple, who would believe that there is a database listing the inmates released from Lewisburg ::g

So all I need to do is add this information to the thread and everybody thinks "Heck, Saffron is good finding that out" and celebrates that Clarence has been released. ::g

BUT (oh I hate that word, its nearly as bad as "IF"), I had to double check didn't I ?.
Name: CLARENCE LEE WILLIAMS (I only had CLARENCE WILLIAMS but initialy looked good)
Age: 59 (I took this to be at release, which meant born about 1926, I had DOB as 1923 from the US military records. A few years out in very old records is quite common but less frequent in more recent records, so not very worried yet)
Colour: Black correct
Sex: Male correct

So at this point I am not over worried, and still think we have "our man" although a couple of bits are not 100%.


Now lets back to our orignal thread about that US dog tag.
Look at the pictures of it, on the top line it clearly says "CLARENCE WILLIAMS"
BUT (as I said I hate that word), it does not say "CLARENCE L. WILLIAMS", and I know that US dog tags should contain the middle initial!!.
Then follow that excelent link that Easylife found and you will see
"Specification: In that Private First Class . Clarence (nmi) Williams"
Anybody reading that full report would have taken in all the details about what had happened and how Clarence Williams had shot the 2 other soldiers.
But how many registered that little "nmi" (I certainly did not) and there was no reason to at that time.
However now it takes on a massive significane - "nmi" means "no middle initial" x; x;

So now go back to that release record, the DOB is slightly out which initially might have been acceptable but add in that this record is for CLARENCE LEE WILLIAMS and we know that "our man" had no middle inital!.

Therefore this release record is NOT "our man".

When I first saw that release record I was happy that he had been released and that this was the record that proved it. However knowing how easy it is to make errors I double checked and found that it was not him. It just shows how you have to double check, and cross check, EVERYTHING however good the initial information looks.

As for the Clarence Williams in the orignal thread, there are some prison records relating to the name but they are on pay to view sites so I still do not know what happened to him.

Evan



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Re: Researching a person. ... how to get it wrong!.

Post by Me and my boy » Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:14 am

What a fantastic read and research explanation. I have learnt so much since Sunday and it has opened my eyes too much more.
Thanks for the great write up.
Out of interest, how much would it cost to view the prison release records?
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Re: Researching a person. ... how to get it wrong!.

Post by Me and my boy » Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:33 am

Hi Evan,
I’m not sure this post is showing properly, I only found it through the link on my post.
It’s too good a read to miss.
2019 hammies. = 125 (including quarters, halves and broken)
Saxon = 1( broken sceatta)
Celtic. = 1
Silver denarius = 4
Gold Roman = 0
Gold ring. = 0
Gold hammered .= 1😀

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Re: Researching a person. ... how to get it wrong!.

Post by lonecoiler » Sat Jun 15, 2019 9:21 am

Another piece of really good research with an excellent write up. :;@
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Re: Researching a person. ... how to get it wrong!.

Post by Blackadder43 » Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:11 am

Moved to the Research section as folk often find Dog Tags whilst metal detecting that belonged to soldiers etc
So may be a usefull bit of information to build out on ::g
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Re: Researching a person. ... how to get it wrong!.

Post by SuperRed » Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:18 am

A sterling write-up Saffron and some salutary lessons... thank you.

I love the more 'usual' targets we detect, but these items which add the personal history really excite me. I had one concerted effort to trace my family some years ago (purchased all the birth/death certs, etc), but then somehow lost them in a house move... never had the 'heart' to start again. I have a relatively uncommon name, but still came across the same problems you highlight. The name has links to the Earl of Wemyss, Bishop of London and the author of 'the saint', so there must be a bit more history to it. Hopefully no US convicts. B-)

Great research and well done!
Brad

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Re: Researching a person. ... how to get it wrong!.

Post by Bootneck45RM » Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:46 am

Hi Evan
Brilliant research and a lesson to all "to read the small print" .
That was a great write up and added much more than we could hope to find from the original discovery.
I know my knowledge of that slice of history has been improved and shows the value of a group of like minded souls 'brainstorming' to try to get to the bottom of a find, found so many miles from where it originated.
Thank-you
Len

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Re: Researching a person. ... how to get it wrong!.

Post by Saffron » Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:58 am

Me and my boy wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:33 am
Hi Evan,
I’m not sure this post is showing properly, I only found it through the link on my post.
It’s too good a read to miss.
I originally posted this in the "Lounge" section. Like "General Chat and Sell" the "Lounge" threads do not show on the home page, so you have to sign in and go to those sections to read them.

I know a lot of forum members do not always read the "Lounge" hence adding the link in the original thread so that people that had been following the thread could see the update without taking the original thread off subject.

BA has since moved this "how to get it wrong" to the "Research" section so it will show on the home page..

BA very many thanks for moving it ::g ::g ::g

Evan

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Re: Researching a person. ... how to get it wrong!.

Post by sweepstick47 » Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:21 am

An interesting post Evan and as always a good read ::g I have some notes partially compiled, in readiness to post details of a couple of German do-tags found in Spandau (Berlin) in the 1970's. I did attempt some research at the time via a German colleague's writing to the East German authorities (concerning military records from the first world war). Unfortunately, the 'wall' was still in situ and at the time a fair degree of mistrust existed between East and West so other than a statement saying all old war records were destroyed by bombing during WW2.

Since then of course 'tinternet' has emerged so perhaps the time is ripe to revisit the matter ::g Thanks for the post. Regards ss47 ::g
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