How do you deal with a paternity issue on the family tree?

+1 vote
My great grandfather Daniel Thomas, is listed as being born after his Mother's husband (Aaron Thomas) presumably died.  The only name on his birth certificate is his Mother's, Jane (Browning) Thomas.  One story is that he left her after returning from the war, one was he never returned after war, one was that he came home and died shortly after. I believe she received his pension, so I tend to think the latter is correct.  No matter how, Aaron is not on Daniel's birth certificate.  Should I still list Aaron on the family tree, with notes?  Or does that line stay blank?  Daniel did carry the Thomas name, as that was his mother's married name.
in Genealogy Help by Anne Baker G2G4 (4.3k points)

4 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer
Having read the other responses (and your responses to each) I think since Daniel's birth is more than 10 months after Aaron's passing, that you are making the correct choice in not making a link between them, until other information becomes available.

Do you have access to the Army service or pension records? While the army can mess up paperwork with the best beauracracies, they are pretty darn specific when it comes to distinguishing the missing from the deceased, and even more exacting when it comes to paying pensions.

Anyways, I would simply create a section on each profile to discuss the possible relationship, and any relevant facts that support or counter, in addition to providing links between the two profiles in the narrative.
by Rob Ton G2G6 Pilot (275k points)
selected by Ray Jones
Hopefully there is not confusion of Aaron Thomases...

1.  Aaron Thomas of Harlan KY(b. abt 1833-34 in Harlan Co., KY; s/o James Harlan Thomas and Mary Poly Johnson, m. 3 Feb 1853, Harlan Co, KY Jane 'Jenny' or "Ginnie" Browning; d. aft Aug 1864). Children include George (b. 20 Jan 1855); Delila (b. abt 1856);  Mary (b. 8 May 1858); and an Unnamed child (b. 1860); Nancy (b. abt 1861); William (b. abt 1863); Sarah (b. abt 1866); Louisa J. (b. abt 1869)  * Nancy and the unnamed child may be one person.

2. Aaron Thomas of Whitley, KY (b. abt 1834 m.abt 1855 Mary Broles OR Broyler b. abt 1840) children include: Sherwood OR Sherrod OR Sherard OR Sherward (b. abt 1857; d. 7 Oct 1934), Francis M. (b. abt 1858); Michael (b. abt 1860); Daniel F. (b. abt 1862).

Since these things gnaw at me...

I believe this is the correct family of Daniel and Susan from census 1920: They are living in Wooton, Leslie Co. Kentucky. (which is adjacent to Harlan Co.)

Same family 10 years earlier in 1910:

Same Family in 1900:

1890 Census is fragmentary..

1880 in Harlan Co. there is a Jane b. 1834 with sons Daniel b.1871, and John b. 1874 that could be a match:

Daniels family as best as I can tell is:

Daniel b. Apr 1870

Susan b. Dec 1873-6

Maggie b. Aug 1894

Jane b. Jul 1896

Walter W. b. Dec 1898

Charlie b. 1902

Thelma b. 1904

Luna b. 1906

Carnettie "Nettie" b. 1910

John b. 1912

Davy b. 1914

0 votes
I would make a note for myself that paternity is uncertain, with something much like you wrote here, but not put it on the web.  I have one of these in my tree, but it's a bit of a touchy subject.

I was contacted by people who believe a female relative of mine was actually the biological daughter of their father, rather than the nominal father on her birth certificate.  I have no way of knowing if their suspicions are true or not, and I'm not sure whether or not she knows anything about the possibility of having a different biological father than the man who raised her.  She is still living.

I have kept the "information" (rumor) to myself until I can find something supporting it one way or the other.
by Fred Remus G2G6 Mach 4 (40.8k points)
In this case, those involved are passed.... I just do not know the proper way to handle it. His siblings are the children of Aaron, so I thought that I should at least list the siblings as the children of... and just uncheck Aaron when it comes to Daniel's profile.
+1 vote
Are all of the interested parties and their children no longer living? If this situation is well and truly in the past, I think you can note all the facts in the biography and then decide whether you want to connect Daniel to Aaron as son/father. Depending on the time period and the diligence of the recording office, there could be many reasons why the father was left blank. All the evidence should be considered.

Family is a social construct as well as a biological construct (consider adoption), so I would take that into consideration, too. I have an ancestor (a great grandmother in my case) who was born 1864 - 1866. The man her mother was married to was grievously injured in a Civil War battle in 1863, and the description of his wounds makes it debatable whether he would have been capable of fathering a child after the injury. There was also a divorce petition (never completed) filed about the time my great grandmother would have been born. It's not at all certain he was living with his wife and children (there were older children) during the time from his injury until his death in 1869.  It all causes me to wonder. This is pre birth certificates, but my great grandmother was listed as a child in the pension application papers and was always legally and socially (as far as I know)  treated as his daughter, so I am connecting her to him as daughter/father.
by Ellen Curnes G2G6 Mach 7 (73.7k points)
This was in the late 1800s.  Daniel's mother received a war pension, but most records show that Aaron died two years before Daniel was born.  On his death certificate, it only listed him as the son of Jane (Browning) Thomas.  My grandmother and great Aunts (Daniel's daughters) always were told there were 'circumstances' about Daniel's parents... and it was not spoken of.  Jane later went on to remarry, but a few years after Daniel was born.  I believe I am going to go ahead and list him, as he is a part of the family history.  Aaron was the father of Daniel's siblings... Thank you all for your input!
Given the two year gap and the acknowledgement by the family of "circumstances", it sounds like you are making a good choice. It also sounds like the presumption that a child born during a marriage is the child of the husband would not apply because the marriage would have been terminated by the death of the husband.

But if it were me, I would include in the relevant biographies the varying family stories. As more records become available, you never know what someone else (or you!) might find in the future.

Thanks for sharing. It's fun to consider these little family conundrums (especially when enough time has passed to take the emotion out of them), and it's always useful to see how others in the WikiTree community are resolving them.
0 votes
Given the time gap, it is clearly impossible that Aaron is the father, On that basis he cannot be put in as the father, The father should remain as unknown. Unless, that is, there is any possibility of the dates being wrong.

It is of course theoreticallyt possible that the later husband was the father, but in that case one might have expected it to be noted later and a name change made. Was Daniel ever known by the second husband's name?

I fear you may never know the answer to his paternity, but it would be wrong to mislead others by naming Aaron as the father.
by anonymous G2G6 Pilot (257k points)
No, I am not going to list Aaron as Daniel's father, but I think I should list him as the father of Daniel's older siblings....Daniel's father is unknown, as his birth certificate says, however, I feel that Aaron should still be listed as the father of the other 7 siblings.  And therefore, a least a part of the family tree.... Daniel was always known as a Thomas.
Fair enough. I agree completely.

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