Ahh, census records tell us much about our ancestors’ family lives. My instructors from Boston University’s genealogy research class have repeated the idea that all records lie; which is why it is so important to look for evidence from a variety of sources. Silas W. Cobb’s recorded evidence is full of conflicting evidence. The question is what to believe.
Silas W. Cobb’s tombstone was an early piece of evidence in my Cobb Research. It reports his death as 13 April 1852. This date and his age were most likely given to the gravestone engraver by family members.
The Bennington Museum was able to supply Silas W. Cobb’s death information that was recorded in Town Clerk’s Office in Springfield, Vermont. This left me wondering about the location of his death. Did he pass away in Vermont or Illinois?
The 15 May 1852 issue of the North Star Newspaper of Vermont confirmed his death date and location. The death notice reads,
“In Northfield, (Illinois), April 13, Mr. Silas W. Cobb, aged 75, formerly of
To add additional validation, I contacted the president of the Northfield Oakwood Cemetery Association. He kindly sent me information regarding the cemetery and the names of others buried in the same lot. According to the cemetery records the following share the lot with Silas W. Cobb: Mary Cobb, Mrs. Cobb, two children and an unknown Cobb. This appears to be a family cemetery lot with a single gravestone belonging to Silas W. Cobb.
I have been secure with my interpretation of Silas W. Cobb’s death. I know from 1850 census records that Silas W. Cobb was living this his daughter Adeline in Columbia County, Wisconsin. Based on death information, I concluded that Silas W. most likely was visiting his son, Edwin, at the time of his passing. Edwin was the contact person for the cemetery lot.
I have lost confidence in my thought process. About two days ago, I discovered the 1855 census index for Wisconsin on Ancestry.com. Who should appear on that index? Yes, Silas W. Cobb was listed on the index and recorded as living in Columbia County where daughter Adeline resided.
One of these records must be lying to me. Should I believe the wealth of death information that was most likely supplied by family members? Or should I believe the Wisconsin census for 1855? Either way, this new discovery makes me question the validity of my previous conclusions.