Sometimes there is an ancestor that drives you crazy. Not because there is no information to be found about them but because they have lied about themselves so much that you are not sure who they really are.
This lovely lady pictured above has driven me crazy. She changed her name back and forth from Jane to Elizabeth in legal documents. And she fibbed about her age consistently.
I know that in a newspaper clipping that she was Jane Sooy when she married Isaac Walker in 1852. In 1860 she was Elizabeth and all the children from his first marriage had only aged 6 years from the 1850 census. In 1870 she was Eliza and again all the children had failed to age more than 6 years from the previous census. She had only aged 5 years. In 1872 when her husband died she was Jane on the inventory done after his death but she was Elizabeth on the death certificate. In 1880 she was Elizabeth and stayed Elizabeth until her death. On her death certificate there is an age given but the math doesn’t work with the ages given in previous legal papers. So I am left wondering when she was born and how old she really was. For awhile I thought that Isaac had married 3 or 4 times before I realized that it was the same woman. She looks so sweet in the picture.
She’s not the only one. There are the ancestors who sprang out of nowhere. And those that changed their surnames or had them changed through accidental misspelling.
When a person cannot read or write their name is written phonetically by the official writing it for them. That can mean that within the same family parents and children will have different spellings of their names.
So that Cane becomes Cain, Kane, Kain, or Kaighn. All spellings correct for the person using them but so confusing for the family tree shaker. And is it McLean, McLain, MacLean, MacLain or McClain?
And of course the winner for all time frustrating searching is the family that held the tradition of naming the first 2 sons James and William. Now think about that. In every generation there will be a father James and an Uncle William who will both have sons about the same age named James and William. And those sons will also have sons James and William and so forth on and on until the researcher is heard screaming in a corner.
Yep, if I could only reach back in time, slap them and ask WHY!