A client of mine who is already a member of GSMD (General Society of Mayflower Descendants, commonly called the Mayflower Society) wanted to prove she is also descended from another passenger. For lineage societies, this is called a supplemental application for every one done after the primary application.
But, she had a little gap in the lineage. With a certain generation, a woman born in about 1784, she had no proof of her parents. From the parents up to the Mayflower passenger was proven, and from her down the the client was proven…but to connect these two lines and prove they are one line of ancestors, was the challenge. Of course, in the late 1700s birth certificates did not exist. So, how to prove this to the satisfaction of the Mayflower Society?
Indirect evidence, including US census records from 1790 through 1860. Just a little thing to mention…the first US census records do not name everyone in the household, just the head of household, usually a man. Just one name. Then, the famous “tick marks” to the right in columns, with a tick mark or check mark or a number indicating how many boys are in the household under the age of 5, how many age 5 to 10, etc. on up, then the same for girls under the age of 5, etc. How many men of this surname could be a father of a girl born in that year? If a household has all boys, then not the father. If a household has no children at all, not the father. Analyze every single census record, tracking her father and other men of the same surname, and see if other households in the same or adjoining counties have a girl of the right age. This takes time. Sometimes a lot of time. But if you get an answer to the research question, this is an example of indirect evidence. In this case, there could be only one…to paraphrase the movie Highlander.
In other records, there was a girl of the same name who was named in a will, but she was the wrong age to be the subject girl I was looking at for the client. Disproved. Other documents also did not fit, but were mentioned as to why they were a mismatch. Reasonably exhaustive research…
So this was a proof argument. A professional genealogist knows how to do this. This one was 12 pages long and submitted to Mayflower Society.
I am happy to report that Mayflower accepted it, and now a new lineage has been proved! This particular generation, the girl’s parents, was not proved by anyone else, proof arguments rejected. But the one I prepared for the client met the Genealogical Proof Standard, the girl’s parents are proved, and the client now has a new Mayflower Passenger Ancestor that is proved to Mayflower society!
The client is a good genealogist herself, but sometimes you need the help of a professional to get past that brick wall.
If you need a little help, sometimes reaching out to a pro makes all the difference in the world.