Disproven Existence Notice: Mary (Beall) Pottenger

+14 votes
One of the legends associated with Ninian Beall, Scottish immigrant to Maryland, is that he had two daughters, Mary and Sarah, who married, respectively, John Pottenger and Samuel Magruder.  In fact Ninian did have a daughter Mary, who married Andrew Hambleton.  

Mary Beall (Beall-332) is an existing profile.  It would be possible (and also reasonable) to merge her into the real daughter of Ninian Beall, or the Mary Bell who immigrated on her own to Maryland, or to the Mary, probably Mills, who did marry John Pottenger.  But there is enough popular genealogy out there referring to Mary Beall, daughter of Ninian and wife of John Pottenger, as a real person, that I propose to retain her profile, clearly marked "Disproven Existence", so that this nonexistent person does not inadvertently get re-created.

This is the one-week notice before Beall-332 is so designated.
WikiTree profile: Mary Pottenger
in Genealogy Help by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (385k points)
As always, thanks Jack for your work on these profiles!

1 Answer

+2 votes
What is the evidence that the work of Samuel Forrest Pottenger is fraudulent? There is no marriage record of Mary Mills to John Pottenger and any will reference is indirect and inconclusive. Why would all the compiled records and family trees and grave memorials that often rely on an oral traditional legacy identifying the wife of John Pottenger as Mary Beall all be wrong - i.e. there must be research room for something other than written evidence. It is best to consider cultural context and associated social stigmas of the day associated with competing inheritance regarding differing mates and their children - in this case Ninian's first family and his second family.
by Karl Heiland G2G Crew (360 points)
Genealogy is not governed by majority vote, but by facts.  There is ALWAYS room for more facts.
Do we agree that facts include family oral traditions?  Much of written history contains significant bias that creates false facts. How do we account for oral family facts that cannot be corroborated by written evidence? There are written facts at the Filson on this topic that appear to be in dispute, how do we deal with that?

Your best question is the last -- how do we deal with that.  The person who wants to deal with the material at the Filson Club needs to get a copy of it, preferably one that can be shared.  Since the document has already been challenged by reputable writers who believe that Samuel Pottenger was taken in by English fraudsters who invented things that were not true, the document should be addressed in total, with a list of asserted "facts" in the document with an account by each one of what attempt was made to verify it, and whether it was verified or not, or whether contradictory records were found instead.  Fraudsters who invent fake genealogy for a fee typically create stories that mix true facts with things they themselves created in order to make their stories sound credible.  One of the most famous ones in the US was Gustave Anjou.

Re: your other questions -- it's critical to understand the nature of a fact.  In the sentence "On Monday morning John Smith reported that he heard Joe say that Susan's mother had died."  What is the fact in this sentence?  The first fact is that John Smith made a report on Monday morning.  The second fact is that certain information was in the report.  Whether or not Joe actually said anything -- we have to trust John Smith on that and maybe verify it.  Whether or not Susan's mother is actually dead, we have to trust both John and Joe -- and independently verify it.  

Because Mary Pottenger's alleged birth is pre-1700, WikiTree has strict standards for what a reliable source of information is, because we want what appears to be as truthful as we can make it.  (Yes,. there are lots of profiles out there that needs lots more work.)  Family oral traditions are clues, and it is a fact that some people believe them, but what they are about is not a fact unless it can be verified.  And you are right -- even written documents can contain falsehoods.  So in the end one gathers as much information as one can, and one must assess which information is most reliable.  And one can be wrong.

We agree... I have been in contact with the Filson and they are conducting research to look into this.  I live two hours away so I plan to go there and research source documents myself sometime in the next couple of months. Maybe the English researchers had local or church documents that have not been digitized yet. We will see.

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