+4 votes
I'm trying to get sources for her father, Andrew Jackson Donaldson, husband of Isobella Luckey.  On Ancestry they've so confused him with the more famous Andrew Jackson Donelson I can't get anywhere and even Family Search wants to give me info on Donelson.  Any tips on how to get some info on him?
WikiTree profile: Mary Abernathy
in Genealogy Help by Joelle Colville-Hanson G2G6 Pilot (132k points)

My name is Doug Donaldson.

My family has done family searches on our family name: Donaldson.

The name “Donaldson” has been intermixed with the name, Donelson and also Donnelson. From what I understand those names has been changed from Donaldson to the other 2 due to regional dialects. From what I understand that was a common name variation from the name Donaldson. In my families genealogy search we have found the name of John and Andrew changing the spelling from Donaldson to Donelson and Donnelson.

To further confirmation we have confirmed regional location of those names to lead us to believe they could be one and the same.

I would also suggest researching Andrew Jackson’s wife Rachel Donelson and look for the name variation. My family visited the The Hermatige In the early 80’s and one of the biographers was familiar with the name change.

From what I understand there were 4 brothers. 2 brothers stayed up north and 2 brothers that went south.

Also intermixed with what we can find is Fort Donaldsonville, La.

My father is decided and so any additional if would be appreciated.


Doug Donaldson

Papillion, NE

3 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
Since you seem to be on Ancestry, have you seen this?

But you're right.  I can't believe the photo of the grave marker clearly inscribed Donnelson and yet attributed to Donaldson as an Ancestry hint. Ya gotta love em.
by LJ Russell G2G6 Pilot (195k points)
selected by Joelle Colville-Hanson
That’s him  I think I was so frustrated I didn’t even check that hint I just assumed it would be the erin one again

Often Ancestry is helpful. But it seems like if people get a hold of a famous person the wanna grab it and not let go
Glad to help Joelle.  I found that attached to one of the children.  I always follow the kids and many times, a nugget appears.

You're right about folks grabbing on to someone with a slight variation in name or dates and attaching them to their family. Especially, as you point out, if that supposed ancestor is famous. I use the Family History Hints on Ancestry just for what they are...hints.  I had one cousin, a Smith, who was shown to have been married to 4 or 5 different women, yet they children's names and birth years were all basically the same for each tree.  And no, we're not related to that Smith. wink, wink  Most of them had the kids right, just not the wife.  It would be funny if it didn't hurt those of us actually trying to get it right.

Good luck on fleshing Andrew out.
I'm confused... might be missing something. The Ancestry link to Notable Southern Families says this Andrew is said to be grandson of Col. John Donelson. He could have changed his spelling to Donaldson, but I would be suspicious of that given the Donaldson/Donelson sorting out we went through with the various John Donaldson/Donelsons in the Delmarva area in same relative time period. Researcher on Col John's father's profile provided will and other records showing that line always used the Donelson spelling, and the many children attributed to him were incorrect except for two (John and Mary). All others used Donaldson and were not related. Am still trying to figure out the immigrant ancestor for our line which for years was attributed to John Donelson.... now it brick walls at another Andrew Donaldson in VA in mid-1700s. But back to yours - since the Donelson line of that time period didn't acclimate to many others of the Donaldson spelling, it may be the book source is going off of previously assumed information but isn't correct. Or, a census taker recorded it as Donaldson and it stuck? Love a good puzzle. Most of the time. :)
I'm not using that to document his ancestor, but it does seem reliable that he's the father of Mary.  I'm not going any farther up the tree till I get some better sources.  But what helped was it identified him as from Virginia, not Tennesee like the other Andrew Jackson and that got me to some more accurate sources.
As with many of the "Historical Biographies" of locations and family names that arose after the American Centennial, Southern Notables was published by a vanity publisher.

Zella Armstrong never married.She was distantly related to me through the Isbells and, she believed, the Weirs.When she died in the 1960s, she left a number of family heirlooms, her historic home in Chattanooga, and her business, the Lookout Publishing Company and print shop, to her friends, the Kinchen Williams Exum family.She had intended for her home to become a museum, but unfortunately arsonists destroyed it.The business next door had been wanting to expand its parking lot.
Copies of her books and her magazine, The Lookout, are at the Chattanooga Library, and perhaps they have any of her files that were not destroyed, though I don't believe they do.
She published The Lookout from the 1910s through the 1960s.Her "Notable Southern Families" volumes were taken from genealogical articles appearing in issues of the Lookout through the years and it is interesting to compare the earlier versions published sometimes decades before the hardbound versions were published.

Besides Notable Southern Families, some of her other books include The History of Hamilton County and Chattanooga, Tennessee (2 vols),
Twenty-Four Hundred Tennessee Pensioners: Revolution and War of 1812
Some Tennessee Heroes of the Revolution
Who Discovered America; the Amazing Story of Madoc (1950),
and a play, "Tennessee's Dream of Fair Women" (1931).In 1934, Miss Zella founded Chattanooga's annual "Cotton Ball," a major social event.


I find all of these books as great places for hints, but I find most of their research circumspect.  Too many are based on remembrances, hear say and old family records.  While sometimes local documents are utilized by the authors, without citation to the records, who is to tell where the source came from for their facts.

I tend to think of them as the of days gone by.  While some are put together with true genealogy in mind, many are just created by some prominent local to boost their community merit or own family agendas  Sometime a golden nugget of data is found that can be corroborated by other better records, as with Joelle and Pam.  But i would never use them as a single source as I have seen way too may times on WikiTree. JMHO
+7 votes
When you are searching on FamilySearch, you know where you put in the person's name you are searching for, and there is a little box next to it?  That makes them search *exactly*, with the *exact spelling*.  Might be a help.
by Ros Haywood G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
+5 votes
Don’t know if this is just what you’ve already found or if the book is any good, but possibly some clues...someone has linked Notable Southern Families, Vol 2 where the name is spelled both ways.

Spellings do change, I’ve seen Dameron became Damron. My husband’s ggg grandfather’s given name appears as Osson, Orson, and Austin. My great grandfather went from Toepelt to Tapelt to Taplet and Taplett.
by Kay Knight G2G6 Pilot (486k points)
Ok that’s him. His dates kept getting mixed up with the other Donnelson. They are two different people.
And once I got his birthplace as Virginia Family Search gave me better results

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