Other People’s Research

One constant about doing research is that someone else should be able to replicate our findings. When a scientist conducts a study, other scientists will attempt to replicate the results of the study as a means of proving or disproving the first scientist’s work. Seems to me that this standard applies to genealogy. As researchers we ought to be able to find a path to, if not reach the same conclusions, at the very least see why previous researchers reached the conclusions they made.

I am still trying to understand why those who went before claim that Dolly Schoolfield’s parents were John Schoolfield and Mary Richardson. I found an earlier source for this information: A History of the Houston-Sherwin Family, compiled by Houston Mulloy Houston, 1950, revised 1963. This is not an easy ‘book’ to find. Worldcat shows only 4 libraries have it. I was lucky enough to get some of the pages sent to me by the librarian in Fort Myers, Florida. It is small and self-published, as are most such genealogies.  From it we learn the original compilation was begun in 1945.

On page 6 of the revised edition is the following statement:

Houston book pg 5

I believe this is what he is referencing:

Houston, Levi birth or baptism
Coventry Parish, Somerset, Maryland PE church, parish and vestry records, Vol I, pg 136, familysearch.org

This is an 1899 transcription of the original records. The author of the Houston genealogy appears to be claiming that his family records show Levi was born 20 Aug 1750, and that this is a baptism record rather than a birth record. Without seeing the original documents, there’s no way to know for certain. (I have to wonder if the ‘family records’ were indeed the DAR lineage books published in 1923?)

I’m trying to determine how much credibility to assign to this author. He was three generations closer to Levi and Dolly than me; that is a factor that needs some weight.

On the previous page (5) he made this statement:

Levi and Dolly marriage spec

On page 5 he said they were married in 1777; on page 6 he said they were married about 1778. I weigh that as speculation, and conclude he was as unsuccessful as every other researcher in finding a marriage record for this couple. Unfortunately this book is the source for that date with the DAR. Kind of puts the first known child George Schoolfield Houston in a bind given that he was born (coincidentally) on his father’s 27th birthday: 20 Aug 1777.

On page 6, the author reveals that he had considered two different men as the John Houston (father of Levi). The first was an Irish immigrant to Philadelphia in 1735. He rejected that man in favor of someone from an earlier family in Delaware. Why he cast his net outside of Maryland diminishes my view of his research. If this were being graded on a point system, he would get points for being closer to the ancestral couple, and points for finding the church records. I’d dock him on the marriage speculation for lack of evidence, and he’d run into negative points for not finding John in Maryland. (Especially since he advised his readers to cast about for further evidence in Worcester and Somerset Counties.)

Levi grandson of James
Will for James Houston, Worcester County, Maryland Will Book 4, pg 112, familysearch.org

The author of the book in question is a descendant of the last known child of Levi and Dolly: James Houston. He was probably named for Levi’s grandfather, whose Will excerpt is shown above that gives the lineage of Levi as the beneficiary of the inheritance to be left to him from John Houston. Had the author been serious about finding John’s identity, he would have had to look no further than this 1772 Will.

Moving on to the Schoolfield reference: Page 4 contains a list of the surnames the author credits for the existence of the family he is tracing:

Houston book pg 4

The Mary Richardson who married John Schoolfield was born Mary Martin. She is still single when her father Robert Martin mentions her in his Will in Liber W.D. 1, pg 383, probated 16 Jun 1725. In Maryland Will Books Liber B.T. 1, pg 538, John Richardson lists Mary as his wife and his children as: John, Samuel, William, Comfort, Polly, and Robert Martin Richardson.  Mary’s mother Mary Richardson mentions a daughter, Mary Schoolfield in her 1774 Will. In Mary Schoolfield’s Will (Worcester Co JW4, pg 393, probate 13 Mar 1778), the children mentioned are William, Polly and Robert Martin Richardson. Don’t know what happened to John, but Samuel died in 1770; Comfort died in 1774. John Schoolfield’s Will (Worcester Co MD Will Book 4, pg 132) makes no mention of any of the Richardson children. He lists his seven children: Thomas Givens, John, Robert, Mary, Betty, Merin and Cate. He also states that no part of his estate is to go to pay for any of his wife’s debts from prior to their marriage. (As discussed in a previous post, these children might be those from John’s first marriage to Katherine Given.)

If the author of this book had particular knowledge of Dolly Schoolfield’s parents, then why didn’t he know Mary Richardson was a Martin? Why doesn’t the above read: Milborns, Martins, Schoolfields and Houstons?

And…the question remains: If Dolly is the daughter of John Schoolfield and Mary (Martin) Richardson, then why is she not mentioned in either of their Wills? For the reasons stated, I am still dismissing this couple as the parents of Dolly.

The good news is that I can place the date the supposed names of her parents were put forth as early as 1950. That bad news is that I am no closer to understanding what led this researcher to make the claim.





One thought on “Other People’s Research

  1. Greetings and “happy researching.” I share your opening comment about sharing our research results. In 1996, I published Frantz Families-Kith & Kin (https://www.frantzfamilies–kithkin.com/). In 2017, I started scanning the supporting documentation and published to a Digitized Library of Family History (https://frantzdigitizedlibrary.com/about/digitized-library-of-family-history/). I, too, believe that other researchers should have access to our family history. I wanted mine available “free” on a website. Sadly, we have to pay to obtain records from numerous “professional” websites. I get angry every time I’m on Ancestry because their individual family trees (Frantz family and collateral lines information) contains so many errors. So I correct and list the supporting documentation. We have MAJOR problems because of erroneous DAR information. They (DAR) wasn’t interested in my correct data.


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