What if you are looking at the wrong guy?….

In 1860, J. W. and Nancy McAlpine are living in Davidson County, TN with their three children. (Click on any image to see a bigger view)

image

J. W. McAlpin household, Davidson County, TN, Dwelling 707, Family 707.  1860 Federal Population Census, Davidson County, TN, (National Archives Microfilm M653, Roll No. 1246), National Archives, Washington, D. C.  Viewed online at www.ancestry.com

 

So the next step is to find a marriage record for J. W. and Nancy.

image

Ancestry.com. Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

Original data: Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002. Nashville, TN, USA: Tennessee State Library and Archives. Microfilm.

 

So okay, John W. McAlpin married Nancy Proctor in 1839 in Davidson County, TN so let’s go find them in 1840..

Name:
John Mcalpin

Home in 1840 (City, County, State):
Williamson, Tennessee

Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9:
1

Free White Persons – Males – 30 thru 39:
1

Free White Persons – Females – Under 5:
2

Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9:
2

Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14:
1

Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39:
1

Slaves – Males – 36 thru 54:
1

Slaves – Females – 24 thru 35:
1

Persons Employed in Manufacture and Trade:
1

Free White Persons – Under 20:
6

Free White Persons – 20 thru 49:
2

Total Free White Persons:
8

Total Slaves:
2

Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves:
10

 

And all goes well, until we try and find the same family in 1850 and find:

image

John  McAlpin household, Williamson County, TN, Dwelling 386, Family 386.  1850 Federal Population Census, White and Willaimson Counties, TN, (National Archives Microfilm M432, Roll No. 900), National Archives, Washington, D. C.  Viewed online at www.ancestry.com

Wait, what? Who the heck is Jane?  Are Nancy and Jane the same woman?  Well, let’s go back to the marriage records and we find….

image

Ancestry.com. Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

Original data: Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002. Nashville, TN, USA: Tennessee State Library and Archives. Microfilm.

 

We can’t confuse the John W. McAlpine who married Nancy Proctor and is found on the 1860 census in Davidson County, with the John McAlpine who married Jane M. Blackburn in Williamson County and is shown on the 1840 and 1850 census in Williamson County as the same man.  While I still do not know where John and Nancy were in 1840 and 1850, or why they did not appear to have children before 1851, it is obvious the man found in 1840 and 1850 in Williamson County, TN is not the same man who is later shown in Davidson County in 1860.

Had we just stopped at the 1840 census, it would have been easy to assume that John and Nancy had 5 children by 1840 (unlikely since they married in 1839) and  that those 5 children died or married by the time we found them in 1860.  Instead we are looking at two different families. 

So my next trick of the trade was to search for the surname Proctor in Davidson County, TN and low and behold found this!

image

John A. Proctor, household, Davidson County, TN, Dwelling 386, Family 386.  1850 Federal Population Census, Davidson County, TN, (National Archives Microfilm M432, Roll No. 875), National Archives, Washington, D. C.  Viewed online at www.ancestry.com

Yup, that’s right. John W. McCoppin and wife Nancy and daughter Sarah C.  and living next door is a man named John A. Proctor and his wife Sarah, who appear to be the correct age to be Nancy Proctor McAlpine’s father and mother!  Yup, a new great great aunt and two new ancestors!  And look at all those brothers and sisters of Nancy’s I have to research!  Surely one of them can help me go back another generation. Just got to prove the link between John and Sarah Proctor and Nancy Proctor McAlpine.  That should be fairly easy to do!

So be careful when just using the census to find families. Sometimes its very easy to confuse two families living close to each other as the same family.  Which is making me question who really is John W. McAlpine’s father. Because I think other researchers may have made the same mistake I came very close to doing and William McAlpine and Patsy Wooten may not be his parents after all.  Two parents possibly found, two possibly lost. All in a days work for the genealogist.

 

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