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November 21st, 2008 at 3:49 am

Birth/Baptism Records

BFA Genealogist Bette RIchards makes some interesting points in a Nov. 20 message to the Bunker list group at rootsweb.com:

While going through some records I found several instances when more than one child in a family was baptized on the same day. Maybe there were twins or even triplets but it is just as likely that the children were born at different times and all baptized at once.

In other cases I have found records with children born a month apart in the same year. I would have ordinarily imagined this to be some kind of mistake if I had not had a friend who had twins born 2 months apart. Twins are usually born within a few hours of each other but not always.

If you run into these situations it is best to just record the information and not make assumptions. If you are able to find more records that give the age of the children you may be able to determine if they were twins or multiple births but you can’t make that assumption.

Then there are the children whose only date of birth is a year and you have two within one year. That is really easy. My husband had a sister born the same year as he was. One was born in January and the other in November. In case of premature birth, siblings could be less than 9 months apart in age.

If you have a death certificate, gravestone or burial record or proven will that has a date that occurs over 11 months before the birth of a child, it is highly unlikely that the deceased was the parent. Of course, if it was the mother of the child, that would be impossible. But even in that case you may have a baptismal record that has been called a birth record and mom may have died say October 11 and baby have a “birth” date of October 20th or even later. In those cases rather than assuming a different mother, check to see if the record is a baptismal one.

And then there are the fathers who have children with multiple women at the same time or within months of each other. With our early polygamous families there is a lot of that and not all places record the name of both the father and mother.

Record everything, even several dates for the same event and record the source of that information. Even if there is no source, keep the information. There may be an error in some of the records.

George and William are the most popular Bunker names for males. For females it is Elizabeth and Mary. There are numerous cousins born at nearly the same time with the same name and then they have the audicity to marry women with the same name. Genealogists go bald tearing out their hair over these things. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we are able to correctly sort and assign families with the same names and similar birthdates and sometimes not. We just keep working on it. Always be open to the fact that you or an earlier researcher has made an error or that the early record keeper made an error. It happens all the time.

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