[APG Public List] Question about wills

Craig Kilby persisto at live.com
Mon Jun 28 11:14:57 MDT 2010

Ray and Elizabeth,

So true. Statements are statements, facts are facts. In an article I wrote for the Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Magazine in 2008, I had three versions of the same story, involving a car crash in which the owner of the property I was writing about was killed in 1947.  This was in Lancaster County, Virginia. She was on her way to a ladies church meeting. Here are the three versions:

1.	According to the newspaper account, she was transported from the scene to Richmond, where she was pronounced dead
2.	According to the current owner of the property, she was brought back home and died here in her house (this from hear-say)
3.	According to the daughter of a passenger in the car, she died at the scene of the accident (this from hear-say)

Not one of these sources were first hand information. None of the sources had any reason to make it up. All three are believable, but none of them were actually there when it happened.

My original version of the article concluded, "Regardless of where she died, she did eventually make it to church, where she is buried next to her parents." And while that is a true statement, and a fact, it got axed by the editor for lack of decorum, and that sentence was changed to the boring "She is buried next to her parents at xyz church."

Since the article was not about her, but about her will and what became of the property, I did not pursue obtaining her death certicate which may have settled the matter.--or simply confused it further.  (Anyone doing modern research in Virginia will know how difficult it is to obtain such a certificate.) I did include all three versions of the story and my sources in the article.

So, we have lots of statements here, but no details as to the facts. Yet, the fact remains she did die in a car crash, and was buried at xyz church, to which her tombstone attests.

On Jun 28, 2010, at 12:54 PM, <eshown at comcast.net> wrote:

> Ray wrote:
>>    Documentary evidence has its limitations, and although such a bequest
> is a useful clue, like any other bit of information, it should not be
> accepted as fact without additional evidence to support its claims. "Grandpa
> Joe called Uncle Al a drunk in his will" is a valid statement for a
> genealogist to make. "Uncle Al was a drunk" is not; at least not without
> further proof.
> Ray, thank you for this reminder that any statement in a document is only an
> assertion, not a *fact.*
> Elizabeth
> -----------------------------------------------------------
> Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
> The Evidence Series

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