Wednesday, October 30, 2013

But the math doesn't work!

Recently I received an obituary for a 4th cousin once removed, Diane Carol Sharpe. Now if you aren't already using obituaries in your research you should be since they are often a wonderful source of information concerning a person's life and the names & locations of their children. In this case the following detail was included in the notice:

Born 1945, in Saint John, NB, she was the daughter of the late Ronald and Florence (Cameron) Lyttle.

I already had her linked to her parents Ronald Reginald Lyttle and Florence Elmina Cameron through the obituary of her brother Kevin who died in 2002. Now I had her birth year. Only one problem ... her father would have been 15 years old at the time of her birth. This raised a really big red flag. Now there are a couple of possible explanations (there may be more but these are the ones that immediately came to mind).
  1. The information about her year of birth was incorrect.
  2. The age of her father at the time of his marriage to Florence was incorrect in the civil registration.
  3. Diane isn't the biological daughter of Ronald Lyttle.
  4. Ronald was actually under the age of majority when Diane was conceived.

I knew that Florence had divorced her first husband since that fact was recorded in the New Brunswick registration of the 15 Dec 1949 marriage between Ronald Reginald Lyttle and Florence Elmina (Cameron) Nickerson. I hadn't looked for Florence's first marriage but that became my first task. It was an easy find since the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (PANB) has digitized and placed online, with a searchable index, the birth (1810-1917), marriage (1847-1963) and death (1815-1963) records of that province. There I found the registration for the 28 Mar 1942 marriage between George Robert Nickerson and Florence Elmina Cameron. The facts in this marriage concerning Florence lined up with the facts stated in her 1949 marriage to Ronald Lyttle.

Next was a shot in the dark ... had Diane married on or before 1963 in New Brunswick? I got lucky this time. The first search using Lyttle as the surname resulted in no matches but when I used Nickerson Diane's 13 Apr 1963 marriage to George Ray Sharpe was listed. Looking at the image it was plain to see that she listed her parents as George Robert Nickerson and Florence Elmina Cameron. She also signed the registration as Miss Diane Nickerson. Diane's age when married was 18 years and that means she was born about 1945. So that matches her obituary. However, we now have evidence that her father, at least in a biological sense, wasn't Robert Reginald Lyttle but George Robert Nickerson. In a perfect world we would also need to have Diane's birth registration document where hopefully it would list her father as George Robert Nickerson. But that record is presently restricted under the privacy laws. For now, at least in my tree, her father will be listed as George Robert Nickerson. My quandary has been resolved.

Tip for the day: As valuable as obituaries are, like any other record, you need to be able to back up the assertions made with other evidence.

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