How do I add a person when all I have are initials for their first and middle names?

+3 votes
I have found a family in the 1860 census that may be a link to my brickwall ancestors.  I want to add this family to WikiTree, but, everyone in the household, except for the wife, is in there with only initials for names. Of course, the wife is in there with her married surname and not her maiden name.

Is it acceptable or not to add initial-only names?

Regarding the wife's maiden name, since I don't yet know it, would I put Unknown in the Last Name at Birth field and then her married surname in the Current Last Name field?

I have looked through all of the Coley and Colley people on WikiTree and have not found an H. D. Colley, so I assume that I wouldn't be duplicating a profile, but who knows.

Thank you for any assistance.
in WikiTree Help by Suzanne McClendon G2G6 Mach 1 (14.7k points)
I would hold off on adding the wife for now, rather than add yet another "unknown".  For the others - if you have their last name, then initials would be fine for now for the forenames.
Thank you, Melanie.  I do have their last name. The family name as listed in this census is "Colley".  Tracking down their full names will be my project for today.  I will add the family, with the exception of the wife (Elvina).  I will notate her in the biography for her husband. Thanks and have a blessed day!

Melanie, what happens if, say, the census taker misheard the name and wrote it incorrectly? If that, or something similar, turns out to be the case, how would I correct the family's surname?

I have searched for these particular folks for weeks now and found nothing. After creating the profile, I found some people buried in the Holmes Cemetery in Alabama (Anderson Holmes was the wealthy neighbor I spoke of) who may possibly be this "Colley" family, only they are listed on FindaGrave as "Corley", which is another surname associated with this side of my family. 

Henry D. Corley

Elvina Corley

The birth years are two years off from the census estimates. There are no photos of the tombstones, so no way of knowing if the transcriber wrote it correctly or not, and no real way of knowing if the stone cutter got it right either.

So, I will keep looking and hopefully finally find an obituary or something for these folks in the Holmes cemetery that may verify whether or not they are same people who I found on the 1860 census. 

Census data can be wrong, as it heavily depended on the enumerator writing down what they heard - and if that matches what was actually said.
Possibly M D "Colley"?

Last Name at Birth should only be changed if you're sure.  Until you are sure - I'd add this possible name to a == Research Note == on the profiles.  And don't forget to "sign" the note with ~~~~ so others will know just when the information was found.
You could also add a link to this discussion.
Thank you, Melanie. I agree that census data can be wrong, and sometimes the transcribers get pretty creative, too! One of my great-grandfathers was named Garfield, but he was transcribed by that machine reader thing that did the 1950 census as "Harfield".  The human transcribers have been just as creative. :)

Do I put the == Research Note == down in the same box where the biography and sources go, or is there another place it is supposed to go?
== Research Notes == goes above the == Sources == header, and below any biography written.
Ok, thanks!

1 Answer

+4 votes
Most critical is the last name at birth, since it's used to generate the profile's ID. The first names can be changed all the time, so initials won't hurt. The question always is: do you have something to tell about these people more than initials and an age estimation? If yes, I would create a profile, if not, I would postpone it for the moment. Same goes for the wife in the end with keeping in mind that you will need to rename her at one point, so the mental threshold should be a tiny bit bigger ...
by Florian Straub G2G6 Mach 6 (60.2k points)
Thank you for your response.  

I am not sure what you mean by "so the mental threshold should be a tiny bit bigger..."

I do not have very much to add about them at this point, except that they were neighbors to one of the richest men in that area (the richest by far on that census page) and they do not appear to have been very propertied people. This wealthy landowner came from South Carolina to Alabama, as did the family of interest.  But, those things are more for my personal notes at this point, until I can get it all fleshed out.

Have a blessed day.
Sorry for expressing it in such a way that is probably not easy to understand. What I want to say: be aware what you're doing. I keep seeing profiles like "Unknown-xyx" with preferably even an unknown first and last name which do add no benefit. But if there is something one can say about this person more than "was the mother, had a name I don't know and must have been older than 12 years", it's usually justified to create a profile in my opinion.
Thank you for clarifying, Florian.  

I have created profiles for the Colley family, except for the wife, since I do not have her maiden name.

One of the surnames alleged to be associated with my brickwall matrilineal 2nd great-grandmother's family is Colley. This Colley family lived next door to people that were associated with my matrilineal 2nd great-grandfather's family in Edgefield, South Carolina.

It is my hope that by having more eyes on this family, even though they are only initials right now, that someone will be able to help me bust through that 30+ year brickwall so that I can know who my mtDNA line 3rd great-grands were.

Thanks again. Have a blessed day.
Can you add a link to them?
Thank you for adding the link for me, Florian.
Do we have a profile for Anderson Holmes mentioned in the profile?

I haven't gotten his profile created yet, but hopefully can do that shortly.

Here is the link to his daughter, who is the first wife of my 4th great-grand aunt's husband, General Ezra Graves Talbert

Ok, I have Anderson Holmes' profile created now. 

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