Sunday, February 23, 2014

Neither Rhyme Nor Reason (as far as I can tell)

The documents in John Froman's Orphan's Court file are dated in this order:
  • August 17, 1876
  • December 16 1872
  • February 20, 1873
  • December 16, 1872
  • November 13, 1872
  • [illegible] 21, [illegible]
  • December 16, 1872
  • August 29, 1876
  • March 22, 1876 / June 21, 1876
  • March 4, 1872
  • (and a few rogue papers for the widow of Samuel Dunn or Gunn, dated December 12, 1872)

I'm thrilled to have these copies for my great-great-grandfather from Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  However, the lack of order and sequence perplexes me.  I wish I knew how they should be organized.  I still have them paper clipped together as they came in the envelopes, but I added post-it tabs with each paper's/document's date to at least help me mentally organize the papers.  Another challenge is that some pages have no clear delineation whether they belong to the page in front or the page behind or are totally separate documents. 

It makes sense to me that they should be organized chronologically.  (Is that right, you experienced family historians who read this?) 

As I begin transcribing I hope the rhyme and reason of everything in this file will become evident and the pages/documents will settle into their proper places.



  1. Chronological makes sense for YOU, absolutely, since you're trying to figure out his life. But I wonder if the records you received were ever in a particular order or if they were just thrown in a pile, so to speak. Or maybe they were grouped by TYPE of record which then wouldn't take chronology into account.

    1. I was just thinking about some Chancery Causes that I have in which chronology appears to be ignored. For example, a testimony was taken one day, recorded another day, presented to court yet another day. The testimony itself might be placed in the file AFTER the transcript of the court proceedings despite happening first. I don't know if this applies to your ancestor's records.

    2. I, too, wonder if the records were never in any order. Maybe there were different clerks who had their own ideas - each different - about the way to add papers to a file. It's fairly evident that the originals were separate papers and not copies from a court ledger.

      My brother mentioned the possibility of different types of records in the file, too. He suggested looking carefully and if there were, to separate those from the others.


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