Today there is so much online that it is easy to take the information provided as being complete.  Even without an actual record, the summary may appear to have all the pertinent information –  but wait!  Read the following story illustrating the value of looking at the source of an online summary.

Abel L. Gilson, born about 1802, married Mercy Sherman, 18 October 1829, in Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, according to an online summary of Massachusetts marriages.  Abel and Mercy had a son, Abel W. Gilson born 5 Dec 1830, who was consistent in stating he was born in Maine, though he married and lived in Massachusetts. 

The goal was to find the father of Abel L. Gilson, who married in Massachusetts yet had a son who was born in Maine.  Abel L. Gilson disappeared after the 1830 census, therefore a place of birth could not be substantiated for him.  A general search in Maine and Massachusetts for Abel revealed an online book for Harrison, Cumberland County, Maine titled “Historical Sketches of the Settlement, Progress and Present Condition of the Town of Harrison, Maine” which included an interesting paragraph.  

“Abel Gilson, 5th child of Levi Gilson, was born at Harrison, September 2, 1803; m. ‘down east,’ and after a few years started for New Hampshire, and stopped a night with his sister in Greenwood and was never afterwards heard from.  It is thought his wife knew his whereabouts as she left a few years subsequently, as suddenly as he had done, probably to join him.” 

Abel L. Gilson did marry “downeast” from Maine, yet had a son in Maine.   Could this be the ancestral Abel L. Gilson?  Something was needed to connect the Abel L. Gilson who married in Plymouth County, Massachusetts with the Abel Gilson who was born in Harrison, Maine.

Thus, the source of the online marriage came into play.  The source was a microfilm at the Family History Library and on this film, in the section for Plymouth County, Massachusetts, there were two entries for Abel L. Gilson; one dealt with his published upcoming marriage and the other was for the actual marriage.  In both of these entries appeared the statement, “Abel L.Gilson of HARRISON, Maine and Miss Mercy Sherman of Marshfield…”    Finding this one actual source helped make the link between the Abel L. Gilson who married in Plymouth County, Massachusetts with the Abel Gilson of Harrison, Maine. 

ALWAYS look at the source!