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08 July 2013

The Three Source Rule and "Magic"

"I put something in my tree if three sources agree." I see that kind of statement on a regular basis--implying that "three" is somehow a magic number. Analysis of information is not quite that simple. Might does not make right. Three sources can easily agree if the information was provided by the same person, regardless of whether they were correct or not. John Trautvetter's church record of his marriage says his wife's maiden name was Franciska Haase. The county courthouse record of the marriage indicates his wife's maiden name was Franciska Haase. And his wife is living the the Haase family shortly before her marriage as their child.

Problem is that Franciska was not the child of Mr. Haase. He was her step-father.

There is no "magic" number of sources to make something "right."


  1. I have a family John and Mary Dondineau. Mary is my ancestor's sister. When I found them on the 1900 census I assumed it was the same John and Mary with their children. I found a marriage license for a younger child with Mary's last name different than all of my other documentation. I searched for more evidence. I found the older child's marriage record with the correct maiden name of the mother. Finally I found a new marriage record for John and Mary. His first wife, Mary, had died and he remarried another wife named Mary.

  2. A private email asked how I knew who Franciska "Haase"'s father really was. It is a long story which I've written about several times in other venues, so I won't repeat the whole thing here. Her supposed parents were married nearly 8 years after her birth and a search of local records located a guardianship in which Franciska was named as another man's child (and Barbara was named as his widow).