Friday, August 29, 2014

The "Skeleton in the Closet" Doesn't Belong to Me! (Lessons to Learn!)

I recently wrote two posts about two men whom I thought were brothers of my great, great grandmother, Elizabeth Bennett (1849-1914). The first was titled "Doing Time in the Missouri State Penitentiary" and the second was "Skeletons in the Closet: Rapist & Murderer." I had uncovered some prison records which seemed to be her brothers.

I hired a researcher in Missouri and received a package from her last night. The man who was found guilty of 2nd degree murder is actually Elizabeth's brother. It's a fascinating story that I'm still researching. But, the man who committed "assault to rape" was NOT her brother. (Thankfully!) He was about 20 years too young!

Missouri State Archives; Missouri State Penitentiary Registers;
Vol. M; page 121; reel S-218
So, I've learned two lessons... just because someone has the right name and lives in the right place doesn't make it the same person! And, I need to be careful about sharing these discoveries until I'm certain they are the right person! Especially when it is something as serious as a prison sentence.

Missouri State Archives; Missouri State Penitentiary Registers;
Vol. M; page 121; reel S-218
Here's one more very strange point... this is the information I received via email from the Missouri State Archives:
     William H. BENNETT #5950
     Vol. M, pg. 121, S218
     Sentenced to 2 years for assault to rape in Perry County. Entered 10-19-1886 and was released under ¾            time law 5-15-1888

This is the same information I received on my copy: William H. Bennett #595, Vol. M, pg. 121, S218. But... there's a lot of information that doesn't match up! My copy shows his offense was "subornation of perjury", not "assault to rape." (Big difference!) Also, it shows he entered the prison on Oct 5, 1886, not October 19, 1886. And, he was released on January 5, 1889, not May 15, 1888. I think the archives might have sent me some wrong information, but their details don't match anyone else on the page, either.

So, here's another lesson learned... look at the original! Don't trust an abstract or something someone else has copied! You never know what mistakes might have been made! (Perjury is a lot different than assault to rape!)

I'm using my blog to share my discoveries almost day by day as they happen. And, I love this format and getting to share the joy and excitement of a new discovery. But, I definitely need to be more careful about what I post! I do apologize for posting something as 'fact' without waiting for more proof!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

1 comment:

  1. Dana,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!


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