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There’s a reason why we cite sources…

The Legal Genealogist almost wept yesterday.

First, with joy, on finding for the very first time what looked like it might be a specific hint to the burial places of my third great grandparents, Elijah Gentry and Wilmoth (Killen) Gentry of Mississippi.

Then, with frustration, on realizing that the information was at best second hand — and the cited sources don’t support what was written.

Not that I reached that conclusion quickly, mind you.

TombstoneI didn’t give up on the hope that maybe, just maybe, the hint would pan out until I had walked every inch of the cemetery in Neshoba County, Mississippi, to which my attention had been called.

But — alas — there really are no tombstones for Elijah and Wilmoth in Sand Hill Cemetery… and I have no idea why the author of this one new reference work thought there were.

Now understand I really didn’t expect to find anything except, perhaps, modern tombstones erected by descendants in the last few years.

There is a truly excellent survey of Neshoba County cemeteries that was done in 1987 by the Neshoba County Historical Society which — I noted with enormous regret when I first found that survey years ago — didn’t record any stones for Elijah and Wilmoth.1

And just about a decade later, a revised and updated cemetery survey by local historian and librarian Theresa Ridout didn’t record any stones for the Gentrys either.2

The chances that two separate local surveys would have missed these graves… well… I’ve only been looking for a clue to their death dates and burial locations for, oh, a kazillion years or so, and have been stymied from the outset. So let’s just say I wasn’t holding my breath.

But hope springs eternal, and all that, and I admit that I did, momentarily, have my breath stolen away by the entries in this new reference work.3

Which flat out says that there are 41 gravestones of persons born in the 18th century who died in Neshoba County… including:

Gentry, Rev. Elijah, 1787 GA – 1865

Gentry, Wilmoth Killen, wf of Elijah, 1795 NC – 1870s

And both, it says, were buried at Sand Hill Cemetery.

Now to be fair to the author, she doesn’t say she went out and looked at all these tombstones herself. She cites other reference works and, for Neshoba County, she cites the Ridout book and the Mississippi GenWeb project — without more detail.

Would that either of those actually did say where Elijah and Wilmoth were buried.

But they don’t, and since the author didn’t cite a more specific source for these specific entries…

I am really really annoyed.

And I’m at a loss…

Unless the author is still around, and still reachable at the email address included in the reference work, and still responding to inquiries, and still has her notes underlying her research, I’ll never know why she thought the Gentrys were buried there.

And if she’d cited her sources, in detail, in the first place…

Sigh…

Things like this really drive home why citing our sources, fully and completely, is an essential part of the Genealogical Proof Standard.


SOURCES

  1. Neshoba County Historical Society, Neshoba County Cemetery Records (Philadelphia, MS: Gregath Co., 1987).
  2. Theresa T. Ridout, Our Links to the Past : 1833-1996 Cemetery Records of Neshoba County, MS (Philadelphia, MS: Neshoba County Public Library, 1998).
  3. I am assiduously avoiding dissing the author by name at least until after I see if she still has her work notes…
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