Genealogy and Googling - The Breakup Of One Westbrook Family

There's a reason your friendly genealogist wants to see documents. And the reason they'll pass that instruction on to you.

  • Documentation
  • Sources
  • Truth (as close as we can get)

In working on a recent family tree, numerous family trees in West Virginia were laying claim to a Revolutionary War soldier, Stephen Bartley Westbrook, a man history shows was raised, fought, died, and is buried in Georgia.

There is strong documentation who is son William L. married,  where he lived, and died. And Mississippi is a long ways from West Virginia. Let's face it, William is a common name, but that doesn't mean one man belongs in everyone's family.

It took me two weeks to put the puzzle pieces together. I discovered that the erroneous family lineage has been copied and pasted hundreds of times and posted in family trees from New York to Alabama.

I understand that the question, "Where are your Sources?" is just about as boring and nerdy as one can get. But amongst genealogists, it can be an aphrodisiac to finding other gems of truthful information. And please note that the Source, "I copied it from someone's website" equates to "I read it on Facebook." Copy it IF they have reliable sources and then, still check it out for yourself.

NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) is always a good source to see in proving truth. They should also be providing the book or roll, page, and microfiche number (if there is one). You can also verify these online for yourself. National Archives.

I would have loved to have placed Stephen Westbrook on their family tree. A strong character with a rich Revolutionary War history, I recognized many of the battles he fought. But they have other family members to place their pride in - we all do.

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