Monday, May 14, 2012

Two Amateurs Give New England Historic Genealogical Society a Black Eye

Michael Patrick Leahy reports that when questions were raised about a claim by New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) genealogist Chris Child based on the research of amateur genealogist Lynda Smith, Smith went to work to verify the information. By contrast, Child and NEHGS have gone silent.

Chris Child a genealogist of NEHGS publicly stated there was genealogical evidence that Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren's great-great-great-grandmother was Cherokee based on marriage certificate content. His source was Lynda Smith.

When further questions were asked about the truthfulness of the marriage certificate evidence, Smith and another amateur genealogist, Sam Morningstar, tried to verify Smith's claim. The only response of Chris Child and the NEHGS was at first to say they did not have the original transcript but an "electronic transcript" and then later to refuse to verify or comment further.
"NEHGS is not conducting research on Elizabeth Warren nor are we commenting beyond what has already been covered by the media.

"Thank you.

"Tom Champoux

By contrast, amateur genealogists Lynda Smith and Sam Morningstar, dug into the evidence and found not only the premise flawed (Oklahoma didn't have a marriage application process in the year specified which might have asked for racial background) but that the evidence is actually against that great-great-great-grandmother being Cherokee. Sam Morningstar discovered:
"'There are rumors of Indian blood along this line SOMEWHERE (or associated families) but it doesn't appear to be supported by any documents. The extant documents do show O.C. Smith living in White American society with no apparent tribal affiliation. Also, her parents Wyatt and Margaret (Peggy) testified in court in verify John Curtis/Dolly Honeycutt marriage in Chatham NC in 1793. This would indicate a couple that was part of Anglo/settler society. Margaret in particular is a little mysterious at this point, but the fact that she is allowed to testify in court and has knowledge of a marriage in Chatham NC in early 1790s wouldn't point to a connection with a Cherokee community. Wyatt is found in more documents and he is clearly not affiliated with the Cherokee community. He was from early settler stock.'"
It seems Chris Child and the NEHGS are not concerned with making sure the evidence they present is true.

Kudos to Lynda Smith and Sam Morningstar for caring to verify genealogical evidence that the professionals at NEHGS are unwilling to do.


James Nicholas said...

"Kudos to Lynda Smith and Sam Morningstar for caring to verify genealogical evidence that the professionals at NEHGS are unwilling to do."

Unwilling to do, certainly, but not because they have no energy for the exercise. The truth is they have no desire for the answer. I would wager they thought it likely they could not support the claim of indian heritage, but would only undermine it. That being the case, there was no reason to do the work, as they were pointedly uninterested in the answer. Thus the New England Geneology Society is less interested in accurate geneology then they are in the election of a Democrat into office.

That the truth is a thing of so little value to geneologists and scientists that are dedicated to discovering and preserving the truth I find to be a very disappointing testimony on humankind.

Good post as always, Terrence.

T. D. said...

I think you're absolutely right, JN. This is not mere laziness but an attempt to actually obscure truth because it would hurt their political favorite. It's much more shameful than mere negligence. One wonders what other evidence they have doctored.

MAX Redline said...

I have it on good authority that she has a Cherokee name: vega-tar'ian. This translates to "bad hunter".

T. D. said...

"bad hunter"--heh! Except for finding gullible Harvard four-eyes.