Should Lydia Stebbins be "merged away" from the database?

+11 votes
238 views

There has been confusion around Edward Stebbins-42, a PGM ancestor, and whether he married an Unknown woman before he married Frances (Tough) (Chester) (Smith) Stebbins, and whether he had a daughter named Lydia.

The puzzle was solved by John Coddington, F.S.A.G. in 1954 and published in American Ancestors (aka "TAG") by New England Historic Genealogical Society.  In 1976, George McCracken, TAG Vol  52 page 80, repeated and endorsed Coddington's identification of the person named in error 'Lydia Stebbins'.

As is often the case, the errors continue to be reproduced - I helped add to the confusion in 2013.  So I am working to share their answers.

Why do we often see trees with "Lydia Stebbins" married to John Chester, or John Wilson, Jr.? Did either of them marry a daughter of Edward Stebbins? The short answer is: no they did not. Did Edward Stebbins OR his wife Frances have a daughter named Lydia? Again - no, definitely not.


The longer answer is in a misinterpreted codicil to the will of Frances Tough who married Sampson Chester, Thomas Smith and Edward Stebbins aka Stebbing. She left some clothing to her grandson's wife but, in combination with other wills, this was misunderstood until Coddington brought together enough evidence to sort it out.

Deacon John Wilson of Hartford, 1650-1698, eldest son of Robert Wilson and Elizabeth Stebbing, married Lydia Cole, who received a bequest of clothing in the 1673 codicil to the will of Mrs Frances Stebbing. page 204, in TAG Vol 30 (1954) by Coddington

QUOTE: By some curious error, James Savage in Geneal. Dict. Of New England, under “Stebbins,” says that Lydia was a dau. of Edward and Frances Stebbing, whereas of course she was in fact their granddaughter-in-law. [Quoted from page 204, in TAG Vol 30 (1954) by Coddington]

In Wilson’s will, he called Edward and Thomas Cadwell (his half-brothers) “my Cousins.” [Clearly this innocent mistake on Wilson's will compounded the confusion over the identity of Lydia Cole.]

To further confuse the issue, the identity of John the son of John Wilson and Elizabeth Stebbins, has been conflated and mixed with the identity of John Chester the son of Sampson Chester and Frances (Tough) (Chester) (Smith) Stebbins. John Wilson is a nephew of John Chester, who is a half brother to Elizabeth Stebbins.


No descendants are connected to Lydia Stebbins so the impact of these errors is limited, but in the interest of cleaning up the database, can agree on merging away http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Stebbins-80 (Lydia Stebbins) ?

WikiTree profile: Lydia Stebbins
in The Tree House by April Dauenhauer G2G6 Pilot (109k points)
retagged by Dorothy Barry
Or do we leave her to prevent the creation of future profiles. I actually think this has some wider ramifications. I have someone, who seems to be fictitious (created by a conglomeration of facts) who I am contemplating merging away, but I think he'll just be recreated down the road, if he doesn't have a profile to prevent further creation.
Because so many trees show Lydia Stebbins, and because other sources besides Savage show her, leaving her on the tree with the information posted to show the correct solution might be the best outcome.

I like your idea, Anne, and am happy to leave Lydia in her place so that people can find the correct information.

Thank you!
Yes leave her but disconnect her as their child but link to her in the narrative of her parents. So glad to see this being addressed. Thanks April.

And this looks like a good place to apply the {{questionable}} template, which indicates "Research suggests that this person may never have existed. See narrative for details" and places the profile in Category: Disputed Existence.

I can see the point of leaving here there so she is not duplicated, but it would be nice if there was some distinction between her and the actual children of that couple in the list of children. Some people are not going to read your explanation in the bio.
As Jillaine said, she should be disconnected from the parents. with links in three bios, mother, father, hers. So she won't actually be in the list of children.
As Anne and Jillaine have explained, she should be disconnected. And it's hard for a casual visitor to avoid noticing the Questionable template on a profile.
I worry about WikiTree trying to catalogue and document every error on the internet.  There are so many, it could become overwhelming.

1 Answer

+2 votes
Lydia Stebbins is a peculiar case.

While nearly anyone can have facts disarranged in a tree, Lyida is documented by Savage, so people who would normally only put what can be reasonably proved into a tree have Lydia Stebbins.

The explanation of how Savage went astray is not short or simple, and the person referred to in Frances Stebbins' will is not her daughter, but her grandson's wife, Lydia (Cole) Wilson.

So although I would usually agree with RJ's observation, in this particular case, it might be of more use to go with the suggestions to:

a. leave her name in the database, so it doesn't get added by every new uploaded gedcom

b. disconnect her profile from Edward Stebbins and from Frances

c. place a link to her profile on their profiles

d. leave the complete explanation on Lydia's profile so the information gets spread out to combat the confusion

I am happy to go with whatever the majority decide is best, and also Bob Fields, the PM for her profile, needs to be heard.
by April Dauenhauer G2G6 Pilot (109k points)

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