The Burnham Side

Scholefield Family Tree

There are several books online which contain information about Abigail’s family:
Genealogical Records of Thomas Burnham, the emigrant, Genealogy of the Olmstead Family in America, and The Descendants (by the female line) of Joseph Loomis all found at Google Books.

These three sources reveal that:
Abigail Burnham was born 8 Jan 1788 and died 20 Dec 1868. She married Rev. Arnold Scholefield on 1 Apr 1814.
Abigail was the daughter of George Burnham of Hartford, CT. He was born 13 Aug 1753 at E. Hartford and died 10 Mar 1830. He married Nancy Bigelow on 16 Nov 1775. She was born 18 Nov 1754 and died 16 Jan 1800.
The couple had twelve children.
The sources also fill in the (mostly male) ancestry of her parents.

However, when considering sources such as these, one must also examine their sources. Where did they get the information from — and is it reliable? Frustratingly, none of these books provide sources. This is not surprising because old genealogical works usually don’t provide sources. It is only relatively recently that genealogists realized that readers needed citations in family histories. And why do we want citations? So that we can verify that the information is correct.

In this case, I wonder if someone made up a family line and then that line ended up being perpetuated again and again. This is not unlikely. You might ask, “Why?” There have been instances throughout history of false lineages being created for numerous reasons. In this case, checking the Barbour Records for Hartford reveals that the whole family was apparently not recorded in town records. These records should contain information about Abigail’s birth and marriage — but they don’t. Even George’s information should be there (East Hartford wasn’t incorporated until 1783). Trying East Hartford just in case the two places were confused (or just too close together) doesn’t reveal the records either. Now, I’m not saying that the information is wrong because there could be reasons for why the vitals of the Burnham family were not reported. I am simply saying that I’d like to know where these authors got the original information.

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