conflicting primary documents

+2 votes
109 views
subject is Ruth O'Donnell (1951)

Two different primary documents conflict about her mother

original birth record shows:      Fannie O'Donnell

certified death record shows:  Margaret A. Davis

Father listed as same on both.

Thoughts?
in Genealogy Help by Rachael Hindman G2G2 (2.6k points)
Which profile? And are the documents posted on the profile or linked from it?
There could be several explanations here, but it would help to know what agency produced these documents, first.
Rule of thumb: closer to the event is more reliable. Also, a death record is a secondary source for birth or marriage information.
information is taken directly from the documents.

Both documents are originals.

They were among my fathers affects.

hence the confusion.
I thinks its may be this profile: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/O'Donnell-2258?  If so, the rest of us can't see anything but her name and decade of birth and death due to privacy settings.

But I have seen this sort of issue in a couple of different situations: If the birth mother dies early, the later records sometimes show a step-parent.  Or she may have been adopted. An illegitimate child may be raised by their father's wife.

Her married name appears to be Davis, is it possible that her spouse's parents are named  on the death record instead of hers?  Mistakes can be made - my father's birth certificate show's the wrong date.

In terms of resolving it, first I include all the information and sources in the bio - it will confuse others after you figure it out.  Second, I agree with J. Palatoy on the rule of thumb.  Third, I would research other family members, including both possible mothers, any siblings, the father, etc.  Based on her birth date, you might be able to find her family in the census too.  Its amazing what can come to light when I keep looking!
good to know.

If it makes any difference, both documents are originals from their respective state agencys.

They were among my fathers effects, so no indexing or other such thing.
very detailed, thanks.

I'm on it.
Considering it's also more recent, step-parents/adoption by a step-parent are possibilities. Family members tend to worry about hurt feelings, or things might not be talked about openly, it depends on the family, who was giving the information on the death certificate, etc. And then there's folks not knowing at all. But again, without being able to see this profile/documents it's too hard to speculate.
What does the father’s marriage record say?

Are there death records for the mother?

2 Answers

+2 votes
I had a similar case not long ago where the daughter was incorrectly listed as the deceased's mother, instead of as the informant, on the death certificate. It wasn't until I did more research on the daughter and her married name that I discovered the error. Then it all began to make sense and fit together.
by Dennis Wheeler G2G6 Pilot (537k points)
+2 votes
Rachael, I'm angsting over a similar problem at the moment, and I agree with all of the other comments and answers previously posted.  In my own case I've collected over 75 official documents and STILL cannot "prove" the parent!  I'm close, but not close enough.

Here are some things I've searched:  US Census, including whole neighborhoods; birth, marriage, and death records for parents, grandparents, siblings, and children of siblings; obituaries; newspaper articles; other web-site genealogies (untrustworthy, but helpful); and many other sources that may not be applicable in your case, including church records.

It was helpful to produce a "timeline" for this family.  In the timeline I used color-coding to help me sort out sources, names, dates  and the like.

Hopefully the answer will come to you soon.  Even if it doesn't, posting your research might help others down the road.
by Gregory Morris G2G6 Mach 1 (17.4k points)

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