Saturday, September 29, 2007

John Cunningham Proves Archibald's Kids!

This entry features a guest blogger: my brother-in-law, John Cunningham. John and my sister, Rainnie, live in Bainbridge, Georgia where (among many other activities) John writes a weekly genealogy column, "Hand-Me-Down Genes," for their local newspaper. John's most recent column told readers how he used his skills as a former systems analyst to prove our Buckingham Stinson's most vexing problem: the elusive Archibald-John Stinson connection. Here's John's column, edited for this blog's readers. Enjoy!


We all know that the “proof is in the pudding.” The big question is: is it chocolate or vanilla?

For years we have known that my wife, Larayne’s, my sister-in-law Kathy’s and all their cousins’ fourth great grandfather, David Stinson, provided much needed supplies to the American forces during their struggle to liberate us from British rule.

In order to join the Daughters of the American Revolution Larayne and Kathy had to prove her ancestry back to David. This was fairly readily accomplished over a few years of record searches, except for one generation: that their 2nd great grandfather, John Stinson, was the son of Archibald Stinson, son of David. We had been stuck on that generation for many, many years. If you have ever done genealogy research in Virginia, you would know about the infamous “burned courthouse records.”

That generation’s proof appeared to be the insurmountable stumbling block. Over the years much documentation had been accumulated which provided almost irrefutable circumstantial evidence that John Stinson was indeed the son of Archibald Stinson. However, the golden bullet which was needed to confirm it always eluded us.


While doing research in the Library of Virginia, Kathy located a Bible record which contained family data on the Stinson family. [Photos of the Bible pages are available online. See link in left menu.]

Copies of the records in the Bible, known as the “Harris/Carter/Stinson Family Bible,” had been donated to the Library by Idalyn Stinson of Miami Springs, Florida. When Kathy discovered the records she noted the many Stinsons recorded therein. She also noted that one set of birth records appeared to be the children of Archibald & Elizabeth Stinson.

Unfortunately, there was no reference in the Bible as to who the parents of the children in the birth records were. So, Kathy and I put our heads together. Folks, sometimes in order to dig out that last nugget of required information you have to think “outside the box” and do some systems analysis.


So I jumped in with both feet. After a day or so of comparing the births with circumstantial information, and after working one night into the wee hours of the morning, I was able to compile what I believe will be acceptable proof for the DAR.

In order to do so I first had to prove that the birth records were the children of the same family. To accomplish that I took the birth records recorded in the Bible and correlated them with census records for the years 1820 through 1870.

Next I cross-referenced the birth records to other records in the Bible. And then I correlated them with available census records. Having accomplished that I was able to show that the John Stinson listed in the birth records was the proven father of David W. Stinson, Larayne’s and Kathy’s great grandfather.

To complete the proof that all the Stinson’s listed were from the same family I correlated two of the names listed with the 1860 and 1870 census records. In that process not only was it evident that the children were all from the same family, but it was also proved that the mother of the family was Elizabeth (maiden name unkown) Stinson.


All that was left was to prove that Archibald Stinson was the father. This was accomplished by compiling all of the census records from 1820 through 1840. Even though names of children are not given in those records it was possible to compare the ages of the children given in the Bible record and find very solid correlations. Of course that only provided circumstantial evidence.

The final nail was provided by the Personal Property Tax Records of Buckingham County, VA which somehow escaped the fire of 1869. Archibald Stinson died in 1822. By taking the 1822 record, where he was listed with one son, and progressing through the taxing of his estate in 1823 & 1824 until the taxing of Elizabeth in 1825, it was shown that Elizabeth was the heir to the estate of Archibald Stinson.

Remember: only males over the age of 16 were taxed for personal property. Hence, for Elizabeth to be taxed she had to be the heir to the estate of Archibald. Thus Archibald & Elizabeth Stinson were proved as the parents of the children listed in the Bible even though they were not named in the Bible.

Kathy thinks my analysis is amazing, and Larayne said that only a systems analyst, which I was in another life, could bring all the facts together.

Now you not only know that the “proof is in the pudding,” but sometimes it takes both chocolate and vanilla. Happy hunting!

-- End of John's column. --

Some readers will remember receiving an e-mail from me announcing that another Stinson researcher (and distant cousin) had succeeded in proving the Archibald-John connection. Edna Barney of Fairfax Station, Virginia submitted her application for a supplemental membership in the DAR based on her lineage to David and Alexander Stinson. Edna also descends from Archibald, through his daughter Mary. We'll have to wait until Edna's application is approved to learn how she proved her lineage. In the meantime, I'm filling out my DAR application worksheet using John Cunningham's analysis. I'll post my application form in a future blog entry.

And John's right, I do think his analysis is amazing!

P.S. Regarding the snapshot of Rainnie & John at top: Though he's a really nice guy with a lively sense of humor, this is as close to a smile as you'll see of John on camera. Also, please note he's actually wearing a pocket protector!

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