Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Dashed Excitement and a Caution

Abel Armitage has been one of my elusive ancestors.  I have information about his birth, his marriages, his immigration to the U.S., and I know he was a coal miner.  But his death has eluded meduring the years I've been searching for him.  The fact is, I would be pleased to learn almost anything more about him.

When I typed his name in the search box at My Heritage two entries from the 39th annual mine report of 1875 turned up.  I was excited.  The transcribed info mentions Abel Armitage, mine boss.  Abel would have been 54 in 1875, within age range for the position.

I clicked on the first link and saw image 938.

Jefferson County.
Walnut Hill Nos. 1 and 2.
     Located at Yorkville, O.  Owned and operated by the O. & P. Coal Co., Cleveland, O.  Drift opening, 132 miners and 44 day men employed.  Wm. Neath, Yorkville, O., superintendent; Abel Armitage, same place, mine boss....

The entry continues with a report about the physical conditions of the mine including dates of other inspections, accidents, and repairs.  This report was on image 938 (of 982).

I was excited to think that my second great-grandfather was a mine boss (though always sorrowful that he was a miner at all).

The second link led to the same book, image 445/page 432.

Annual Report
Jefferson County.  Walnut Hill Nos. 1 and 2.
     Located at Yorkville on the C. & P. R. R.  Owned and operated by the O. & P. Coal Co., Cleveland, Ohio.  Wm. Neath, Yorkville, superintendent; Abel Armitage, same place, mine boss...

To the right was the information accompanying this source.  That's helpful but I always try to find the beginning pages of books at sites like MyHeritage and Ancestry so that I can create a more accurate citation that includes title, publication date, etc.  You would think it would be easy enough to go to the first image and page forward until you come to the cover page but it isn't always that easy.

When I arrived at image 7, I thought I found the cover of the book I'd been looking at.  Except it was the 34th annual report and the year was 1908.

But information on the link said the 39th report and the date was 1875.  The numbering was off or there was a transcription error.  I guessed there were two or more reports in this "document," so I began to page forward to see if I could find the 1875 report.

After more searching I found that another annual report was included in this "collection."  The report for 1908 is contained in images 7 - 475.  The report for 1909 is contained in images 478 - 974.  Despite the information in the link on MyHeritage, there is no report for 1875 in these images.  I don't know how they obtained the date but it is wrong.  Image 938, above, is from the 1909 report; image 445 is from the 1908 report.

So much for my excitement about finding more information about my second great-grandfather.  (Since my Abel was born in 1821 I strongly doubt he was a mine boss in 1908 at the age of 88.)  I believe this information is about his son, also named Abel, also a coal miner, also living in Jefferson County, Ohio, who would have been 40 in 1909.

My caution:  never accept as fact the source information in the links at MyHeritage, Ancestry, or any other website that transcribes and posts digital images.  Find the cover pages of the volumes:  county record books of births, marriages, and deaths; annual reports; deed books; will books, etc.  While it takes a little time to find the pages it may save you time in the end and prevent you from being led astray.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Goodness, Nancy, that was some work to find citation information but time well spent, that's for sure. And thanks for the heads up. I'll be sure to be on the alert if I come across digitized books and reports.

    1. Yes, it was worth it, Wendy. There's a great difference between 1875 and 1909! A whole generation or two, as a matter of fact. This is not the first time I've found inaccurate/wrong source information with a digitized document so I'm sure it happens from time to time. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

  2. So true. Many generations of my grandmother's Snyder line have the first name Henry; fathers, sons, cousins, uncles. I find one within the correct time frame and it is another branch. Frustrating.

    1. As much as it is generations having the same first name, it's even more about being sure the source information attached to the digital image is accurate. I think inaccurate/wrong source information appears more often than we notice.

      Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment, Miss Merry.

  3. So disappointing! But good thing you are so diligent about sourcing what you find!

    1. It was disappointing, Michelle, probably because I was so surprised to see his name and the date, and then so hopeful. I'm glad I didn't just accept the information presented without checking a little further. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.


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