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Transcriptions - 'to err can be inhumane'

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This is a cautionary tale and reiterates the genealogists mantra, 'go to the source' but even then, always always question the source and follow your instincts.

My ancestor William Summers (1756-1823) m. Susannah Teague (1761-1829); both died in Newberry Co, SC. Both the Summers & Teague families were prominent (landholders, etc) so many records exist including land-transactions, wills, etc. The basis of 'Susannah' as the wife is reported in some of those records and naturally, later genealogy gedcoms and publications and, I should add, in the cemetery transcription even though her [presumed] headstone [close to the one of William] is old, broken, and wholly unreadable. One of the published gedcom (1974) works contains a citation of a bible once owned by one of their sons who eventually moved to Georgia [and in 1974 was owned by a named descendant in Georgia]; this same work contained an anecdote that Susannah once was ex-communicated from the Quaker community for marrying (William) outside the faith but she was later welcomed back into the flock. Susannah's father was reportedly Elijah Teague (there were several in the area) but sources for his wife were conflicting: some state her name as Alesey [Davis?] and some say Alice Leavell or, maybe Elijah was married to both? And finally, the South Carolina State Archives has posted a freely accessible transcript [but not the original] of William's will which names as his wife Susannah. End of story, right? Wrong!

I was recently contacted by a Teague researcher through the FindAGrave [FAG] memorial I created for Susannah [Teague] Summers; her comment was that William's wife was actually Lurannah Teague who did have a sister named Susannah who married a Brooks, moved to Kentucky, moved back to SC and finally back again to Kentucky where they both died. And, their parents were Elijah Teague & Alesey Davis. As sources, she pointed me to two 19th century publications both of which included a first-hand detailed lineage except only that Lurannah had married a William Summers and did not provide anything further like birth/death dates, children, etc.

As you can image, the internet is repleat with posts of the spouse as either Lurannah or Susannah and sometimes including the aforementioned 'sources'. Attempting to address this major discrepancy, we reached out to another Teague researcher and the three of us compared notes. Naturally, the question facing us was how to resolve the problem. Knowing that old documents are sometimes very difficult to decipher and that an 'S' and an 'L' are often mistaken one for the other, I suggested that we needed to see the original will document to know for certain that an error had or had not been made.

I sent an online contact form to the South Carolina Dept of Archives explaining the dilemma and asking if it were possible to get a copy of the original will. They quickly responded that not only could I order the will alone ($20) but also the entire estate file ($56) and noting that the wife's name is mentioned several times because she and one son were executors of the estate [of course, he did not let slip the wife's name!]. The entire estate file was 97 pages and the cost included a $15 fee for out-of-state requests! Among us three researchers, we agreed to order the entire estate file and share the cost; I took the lead with the understanding I would make copies for the other two researchers and mail to them. Within about 10 days I received the estate file all on 11x17 pages.

Guess what: the will transcriber had made an error - the wife's name is 'Luranah' and sure enough, she was mentioned many times in the estate file which included her quite legible signature! Mystery solved....

Now it is left to try and undo the data errors that have existed for decades - misinformation that abounds on the internet and in the individual gedcoms of probably thousands of other researchers. Fortunately, those two 19th century publications will lend some pretty valuable provenance. Further, a lot of nagging questions and dead-ends that have plagued both the Summers & Teague researchers can finally be rectified.

By the way, the total cost of obtaining, copying, and mailing the estate file was $117 but split three ways only $39 per researcher. Was it worth it? Priceless!

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I hope you start by changing your own page at 


and to include a scan of the document to substantiate your spelling of her given name. 





I am not certain why you felt the need to comment as you have for it seems in poor taste. But thanks for keeping me on my toes.

FYI the reason my page is not yet updated is that one of my fellow researchers [not a TNG user] is not yet aware of the new info and I do not want to risk spoiling the surprise until he receives his copy of the estate file mailed to him just yesterday.


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