Saturday, February 9, 2013

Mistakes Do Happen

     When I first started seriously pursuing my family history I wanted to ignore this church record in the worst way.  In the burial registers of St. Mary’s RC Church in Auburn, New York was the following entry (here translated from the Latin).  March 19, 1879 I buried the body of Maria O’Hora of Shortsville.  Maria O’Hora died???  No she didn’t, Maria didn’t die until 1909.  What exactly was going on here?  I had the census records to prove she was still alive, although in one a mistake was made and she was consigned to the O'Brien family next door and listed as their mother. No other O’Hora or even O’Hara families lived in Shortsville.  Had great, great Grandpa James married again to another Maria?  It made no sense.  That entry plagued me; I couldn’t figure it out and could not successfully ignore it.
     After a few months passed and I learned more about Catholic records, it finally became clear, the priest had written Maria, which is the Latin form of Mary.  The woman who died in 1879 was Mary O’Hora who was James’ mother, not his wife Maria.  OK, that was my mistake however; in baptismal records at St. Felix in Clifton Springs, NY we find the 1868 baptism of Edward O’Hora, parents Maria McGarr and “Patrick” O’Hora.  No, no, no.  Edward’s father’s name was James; I am absolutely certain of that fact-- that one was the priest’s mistake.

     Newspapers are riddled with them, mistakes that is.  For instance my great, great Uncle Michael O’Hora’s obit in 1934 states he came to the Shortsville area from Auburn at the age of 20.   I know from deeds and the above church records the family was in Shortsville when Michael was still a small child.  He’s even is the census records growing up in Shortsville.  I’ve seen other old family obits that omitted several siblings in the list of survivors.

     I could go on, but  you get the idea, it clearly pays to find as many sources as possible, even if the one you have seems reliable, and keep an open mind.  Imperfect creatures that we are, sometimes the records get it wrong.


  1. So very true, Ellie. I'm glad you found out the truth about your "Maria".

  2. Thanks Lisa, sometimes I don't see the forest for the trees:)