Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mrs. Nimrod Thacker Part I ****** Genealogy by the Numbers - Majority Rules

Because I am a bit of a statistics geek, and because a couple of Thacker family researchers and I have kicked around theories about the identity of Nimrod Thacker’s wife, I decided to take a look at what conclusions other researchers have come to in the identity of Mrs. T.

So on a recent perusal of Ancestry.com, I took a look and found Nimrod’s wife listed twenty times. I used Private Family Trees, Public Family Trees, One Family Trees and Ancestry Family Trees as the source of my information. Below is a break down how Mrs. Nimrod Thacker was listed.

Name of Mrs. Nimrod Nicholas Thacker

1 listed her as Frances ?

1 listed her as Mary Grover

1 listed her as Frances J. Thacker

2 listed her as Francis Thacker

2 listed her as Francis J. Thacker

3 listed her as Francis

4 listed her as Frances Mary Grover

6 listed her as Mary Frances Grover

Not only couldn’t the twenty researchers agree on her name, but they couldn’t agree on how to spell Frances (or is that Francis?).

Spelling of Frances/Francis

1 had no Frances/Francis listed in the name

7 spelled it Francis

12 spelled it Frances

Hmmm…. Not exactly an overwhelming consensus either way at the spelling of the name. Okay, what do the Researchers have to say about the first name of Mrs. Thacker?

First Name

7 give the first name as Mary

13 give the first name as Frances/Francis

What about the middle name?

Middle Name

3 give the initial “J”

4 say the middle name is Mary

6 say the middle name is Frances/Francis

7 of our researchers give no middle name or initial

Last Name

4 give no last name

5 give the last name as Thacker

11 give the last name as Grover

So, what about the year of birth?

Year of Birth

2 give the year of birth as 1822

4 give the year of birth as 1821

5 have no year of birth given

9 give year of birth as 1823

Month Born

3 give the birth month of February

5 give the birth month of January

12 give no month

State of Birth

2 give no state of birth

5 give West Virginia as the state of birth

12 give Virginia as the state of birth

If majority rules then Mrs. Nimrod Thacker was Frances no middle name or initial Grover, born in no month of the year 1823 in the State of Virginia. Case closed, right?

Well, no, not exactly. That’s not how genealogy works, or at least it shouldn’t. When there are clear discrepancies in the identity of an individual, we need to take a look at whatever actual documents exist, evaluate them and then come to our own conclusion. Or as Elizabeth Shown Mills said more elegantly in the Forward to her book, “Evidence Explained:”

At the root of everything we find in history is a source. The information we pull from a source will not likely be any better than the source itself. The conclusions we reach from it can be no better than the effort we have made to identify that source, to understand its nuances, and to interpret the evidence its information provides.

In the next several posts, we will examine census records, death records, obituaries, a marriage record, an application for appointment, a compiled military file, and a Civil War Pension file to see if we can clear up some of the confusion on the identity of Nimrod’s wife.


1. Ancestry.com, “Family Trees,” databases, http://www.ancestry.com/: September 22, 2010.

2. Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007.

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