Why are some profiles much more detailed than others?
In an earlier post, I explained what a family profile in Logan Connections is, that the average profile size is 4-7 pages, but that some are much more lengthy and detailed. A couple of you have asked for more information about the profiles: why are some more detailed than others? And which (who?) are some of the larger profiles? Great questions. We’ll take the “why” question first. Here are some reasons:
- “Invisible” women: Unfortunately, women tend to be invisible in history. Husbands, fathers, and brothers are recorded by scribes more than wives, mothers, and sisters. The reason is historical paternalism in laws and governmental policies; religious doctrine and practice; conscious and unconscious biases and discrimination; and lack of a voice and power through the right to vote. To address this in the book, we made a deliberate choice to title our profiles by couples, e.g. Reuben Logan and Elizabeth Ingle, instead of by individuals. That is, we follow both the female and male lines as much as possible.
- Time frame: Generally speaking, settled areas with established institutions — local governments, churches, schools, newspapers — tend to have more recorded information than developing, in-flux frontier areas. Thus, we have more information on our Logan families who settled early in North and South Carolina than those who kept moving west and south with changing frontiers.
- Religion: Structured, hierarchically-organized religions tend to require more record keeping than autonomous churches like Baptists.
- Pictures and documents: Profiles with lots of documents and/or photographs tend to be lengthier. They aren’t necessarily any more thorough, though, aside from the detail photos provide.
- Simple chance and serendipity: Some tombstones have remained standing longer than others. Records were destroyed by fire, flood, or just the ravages of time while others survived. Some records were destroyed deliberately while others were carefully saved. Some “champion” or researcher or history buff decided to take action to either record or otherwise preserve records. Some states were more progressive than others in requiring birth, marriage, and death records be kept.
- Veterans: If an ancestor or relative was a veteran, there is a greater chance there’s a “paper trail:” pay and benefits, muster rolls, engagements fought, pension records, militia rolls, correspondence pertaining to widows, veterans’ tombstones, and medical records. The difference in existing records for Revolutionary War veterans Drury Logan of North Carolina and William Logan of South Carolina versus Logans who died before 1832 is night and day. That’s the year the Federal pension system was enacted for Revolutionary War veterans.
- Which side you were on: Winners write the histories, as the old saying goes. And the losing side, for example in the Revolutionary War, didn’t necessarily have a vested interest in maintaining records of their Tory / Loyalist participation. Plus, soldiers on the losing side weren’t eligible for Federal pensions and land grants; hence, no paper trail. In the closing phases of the Civil War, Confederate armies and the Confederate government weren’t always able to generate records or safeguard them. For some of our Logan soldiers who served in Confederate units late in the war, records are scant.
- Governmental, religious, or other public service: For a long time, women couldn’t serve in government so, once again, we have records for Logan men we don’t have for Logan women. Churches are proud of their history and their record of ministers; thus, we have more records for pioneer preachers Ransom P. Logan, Joseph Logan, Tisdell S. Logan, and Ellis Neece than for some of their contemporaries. John Randolph Logan wrote an entire book about Baptist churches and church associations in North and South Carolina.
Some of the lengthier Logan Connections profiles will be in the next post.