Abstracts are an invaluable source of information for genealogical research. They allow you to compile more information in less time across multiple family lines. But if they include—at best—ambiguously worded or—at worst—incorrect information, they can also cause confusion. Don’t stop at the abstract. If you find a useful reference in an abstract, always get the original document, too!
A case in point: I’ve been working on the Hoovers of the Conestoga/Martic Township area. I’ve also been compiling information on other families they interacted/intermarried with in the neighborhood. A series of deeds in the Lancaster County Deed Book B abstracted in Lancaster County Pennsylvania Land Records 1729-1750 and Land Warrants 1710-1742 provide information on the children of Peter and Margaret Good of Martic Township.
An abstract of a deed between the heirs of Peter Good and Christian Shank includes the following:
“Margaret Good widow of Peter Good of Lancaster Co., yeoman dec’d, Jacob Good eldest son of dec’d, John Good another son of dec’d, Michael Prennaman and Anna his wife daughter of dec’d, John Shaffer and Margaret his wife and daughter of dec’d, Elizabeth Good and Mary Good daughters of dec’d’s younger son Peter, to Christian Shank who intermarried with Barbara daughter of dec’d…”1 [Emphasis mine]
From this abstract it would be logical to conclude that Elizabeth and Mary were granddaughters of Peter & Margaret Good, and daughters of their youngest son Peter. My reading of the deed itself, reveals something different:
“This Indenture made the thirtieth day of December in the year of our Lord 1748 Between Margaret Good widow and relict of Peter Good late of the county of Lancaster in the Province of Pennsylvania yeoman Dec’d Jacob Good eldest Son of the said Dec’d John Good another Son of the said Dec’d Michael Prennaman and Anna his wife John Stovar and Margaret his wife another of the Daughters of the said Dec’d Elizabeth Good and Mary Good two more of the said Dec’d Daughters and Peter Good youngest son of the sd Dec’d of the one part and Christian Shank who intermarried with Barbara one of the Daughters of the said Dec’d of the other part…”2 [Emphasis mine]
The deed itself is much clearer about who was Elizabeth and Mary’s father—Peter Good (Sr.). Take a look yourself and see if you agree:
The abstracts for the deed recorded prior to this one—Good & others to Good [Deed Book B:579]—and the one after this one—also Good & others to Good [Deed Book B:581]—use the same wording, implying that Elizabeth and Mary were daughters of Peter’s son Peter. The deeds themselves refer to Elizabeth and Mary as “two more of the said Decedants Daughters.”3,4
Furthermore, while both Elizabeth and Mary signed the deeds, Peter Good did not. This, I believe, is because he was underage in 1748, being only about 13 years of age—making it nearly impossible that Elizabeth and Mary were his daughters.5
So, while abstracts can—and should—play a valuable part in your family research. It’s always a good idea to get the original document if it’s available. You never know what might have been lost or changed in the transcription.
- Martin, Marsha, Lancaster County Pennsylvania Land Records 1729-1750 and Land Warrants 1710-1742 (Westminster, Maryland: Heritage Books, 2008), page 107. ↩
- Good & others to Shank (1748), Lancaster County Deed Book B:580-581 (online), Lancaster County Recorder of Deeds. ↩
- Good & others to Good (1748), Lancaster County Deed Book B:579-580 (online), Lancaster County Recorder of Deeds. ↩
- Good & others to Good (1748), Lancaster County Deed Book B:581-582 (online), Lancaster County Recorder of Deeds. ↩
- Jacob Good & ux to Peter Good (1748), Lancaster County Deed Book D:260-262 (online), Lancaster County Recorder of Deeds. ↩