Friday, June 8, 2012

Untangling a Blog Post Mistake

The best thing about having a genealogy blog is the collaboration of ideas with readers, other bloggers and genealogists.  Usually the collaboration is in the form of a “cousin connection”, and the beginning of sharing branches of the same family tree.  This is great because my tangled New England genealogy usually loops back on itself through cousin marriages and kinship relationships.  Sometimes another genealogist will offer additional sources such as books or articles I haven’t yet read, and these are all great appreciated to expand my understanding of my ancestors.  And then there are also the readers who find mistakes in my research.
Unlike some online genealogists, I love when someone finds a mistake in my research.  Why would I want to keep an erroneous line?  There are genealogists who challenge change, and resist cutting off branches of their tree even when it is obviously incorrect.  I find it intriguing when offered a new look at a lineage, and often find it is a great time to re-look at a line I may have researched many years ago.

If you are new at genealogy you will face this someday.  A line you researched in 2010 may someday come up against new research or new documents, and thirty years from now this new evidence may point to a different spouse, or a change in who you thought may be someone’s parents.  This happened to me when I posted Flint of Massachusetts” on 2 June, 2012.  A loyal reader, Barbara Poole, who is also the author of the genealogy blog “Life at the Roots” found her ancestress, Hannah Flint, listed in my blog post, but I had given her a different husband.  She left a comment and an email. 

I was on vacation when the comment arrived, but as soon as I arrived home I jumped back into researching this marriage of Hannah Flint and John Southwick, which occurred on 12 May 1658 in Salem, Massachusetts.   This is my original conclusion posted last week: “Hannah Flint [daughter of William Flint and Alice Williams] married on 12 May 1658 to John Southwick, son of Lawrence Southwick and Cassandra Burrell.  She was his second wife of three wives.  He was born 6 March 1625 in Kingwinford, Staffordshire, England and he died on 25 October 1672 in Salem.  One child- John Southwick.”

Barbara stated that Hannah Flint, daughter of William Flint and Alice Williams, was married to Joshua Ward in Salem.   Sure enough, in the Salem vital records it states “Joshua Ward and Hanna Flint, 18:  11m: 1668” and this was backed up in several Ward genealogy books, as well as in Sydney Perley’s History of Salem.   And in Volume 2, page 53 of History of Salem I read that the wife of John Southwick was Ann, widow of Thomas Flint.  Ann or Hannah, or were they the same person?

It was impossible for the Ann/Hannah who was John Southwick’s wife to have had a second marriage to Joshua Ward, because the dates did not work out.  It was impossible for her to have been the daughter of William Flint and Alice Williams.   So was she the widow of Thomas Flint?  This was interesting to me because if so, she was already my 7x great grandmother twice since I was descended from two different sons of Thomas and Ann Flint of Salem!  (See the first lineage posted at this link

I had researched this line thirty years ago, and that was well before the internet and genealogical computer data bases. I had originally used some compiled genealogies and the Salem vital records to draw up my conclusions on this line.   I took a quick look at what was available on line, and found two images of documents that proved Ann/Hannah was the widow of Thomas Flint.  First, her will states “I, Ann Southwick, lately the wife of Thomas fflint…” and second, this image of a document up for auction online in which John Southwick states his intention to marry Ann, the widow of Thomas Flint.   These two images were very compelling evidence that Barbara Poole was correct!  Now I’m descended of Ann/Hannah, wife of both Thomas Flint and John Southwick, three times!

This image is from the website, accessed on 4 June 2012.
This document is up for auction, signed by John Southwick with his mark.
The document is about him settling a will, settling some debts and payments,
with his declaration of intention to marry "Ann Flint of Salem late wife of Thomas Flint".
There is a price of $1,150 next to this image.  Time to buy a lottery ticket? 
In the past I have cheerfully investigated challenges to my research and cut off a branch only to re-discover new branches and new lineages.  One time this led to a new Mayflower ancestor!  If I had balked and grumbled and refused to look into the question by Barbara, I would have never discovered my unusual connection to Ann/Hannah with the unknown maiden name, but from whom I descend so many times!   It also goes to show that what I had thought of as an exhaustive search thirty years ago is now a much more extensive search today with so many resources available at my fingertips online.  I did not need to take a research trip to Salem, Massachusetts to research new sources for Ann/Hannah, wife of Thomas Flint and John Southwick, I just needed to look on the internet!

My Saturday series of surname posts is turning out to be a great way for me to re-examine my research.  Some of the posts are names I have recently looked up, and others were done dozens of years ago.  As I approach each new surname each week I am looking for new sources of information, and also gaining new ideas from readers.  It is a win-win situation for everyone, as you can see from the case of Ann/Hannah.

New conclusion:

Ann, of unknown parents and maiden name.  Married first to Thomas Flint, son of Thomas Flint in Wales, about 1644 in Salem, Massachusetts.  She had six children with Thomas, who died on 15 April 1663 in Salem.   Sometime between 1663 and 1667 she married John Southwick (date 12 May 1658 from the Southwick genealogy unproved), son of Lawrence Southwick and Cassandra Burnell, as his second wife.  She had a son named John Southwick, born about 1667.  Ann died in the summer of 1668.  John remarried to Sarah Burnett, daughter of John Burnett, on 3 February 1668/69 in Salem as his third wife.


Salem, Massachusetts Vital Records

Genealogy of the Descendants of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick of Salem, Mass, by James Moore Caller and Maria A. Ober, Salem, Mass. J. H. Choate & Co., 1881

History of Salem, Massachusetts, by Sidney Perley, Volume 2, page 53

One Hundred and Sixty Allied Families by John Osborne Austin, Salem, 1893, page 214

Ann Southwick’s will, Essex, County Probate Docket #25894, proved in Ipswich 13 August 1668.  From Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts: 1635 – 1681, Volume 2, pages 135-136, Salem, Massachusetts: The Essex Institute, 1916.

Barbara Poole’s blog post on her Flint lineage from Hannah Flint and Joshua Ward

See also:    The page at the website from Willis Henry Auction house in Marshfield, Massachusetts, where the image of the John Southwick document is found.  Look at item H35.  


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Untangling a Blog Post Mistake", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 8, 2018, ( accessed [access date]). 


  1. Very interesting post, Heather. It's remarkable that the old document was for sale on the internet at the time you need it. I feel like it will be purchased and buried forever, although I hope not. I think they refer to this as "former ancestors"?? You did a nice job, and pretty quickly, of re-investigating this. Thanks for the sources. -- Diane

  2. Congrats to you and Barb for some great research and cooperation. Well done.

  3. Thanks, Heather for using your research and collaboration with Barbara to illustrate why genealogists must be open to peer review. All too frequently .misguided researchers won't let go of their long held conclusions about ancestors. Your post explains that what appeared true long ago may not hold up in light of information in newly unearthed documents.

    GREAT post!

  4. Wow - great post, Heather. Wonderful new information - very exciting, I'm sure.
    I had to chop out a big detailed line on my ex-hubby's father's side when I literally bumped into a big gravestone here in Vancouver BC with many names on it that didn't match with the ones I'd been sure were his greatgrandparents and children! Oh my, two same-named men, same occupation as young men, born/raised in the same small region in Ontario, marrying two same-named Irish girls around the same time, ending up across the continent in Vancouver. Who'd have thunk, eh?! It was actually very exciting to me, although my kids thought I would be discouraged. Nope. I was extremely excited and ready to dig again!

  5. I agree that when you have to revise a line, it is a challenge to examine the documentation and figure out the puzzle. It's like doing a jigsaw puzzle when you discover the piece you were sure went "there", really doesn't go there at all. That is what makes genealogy fascinating and fun for me. I've only had one negative interaction when someone used my error to imply I wasn't much of a historian to have made such a mistake - my user name on ancestry is historyteacher63. I've had so many positive experiences from comments from other genealogists and they are greatly appreciated and lead to new and exciting opportunities.

  6. Hi Heather, Missing you at SCGS Jamboree this year! Aloha, Donna