Most of my prior genealogy research was based on family records. Very little of it came from hard sources like census records. Some folks would claim that what I have is not genealogy, but folklore. So I've recently been spending considerable time looking for "official" documents, like county marriage records, census records, land registries, etc.
What I have found does not help much in coming up with concrete "facts".
Take my grandfather as an example:
- The family folklore/history says he was born in Brooklyn Iowa in 1860.
- The US Census records of 1890 and 1910 say he was born in Illinois.
- One Census record shows the family name as spelled Ferrell (two E's).
- Another record shows him as being born in St Louis, Missouri.
I know that the family spells our name Farrell. So the Census record is wrong. Hey, typos happen. I am sure that he was born near 1860, maybe 90% sure it was plus or minus one year of 1860, but it could be more. And I could believe that he was born somewhere within 100 or so miles of the Mississippi river, starting at St Louis, and going up to say Dubuque, Iowa. But the location of his birth is at best a fuzzy fact.
How do serious folk record this uncertainty?