Today is the 120th anniversary of the death of my great-great-great grandfather, John Ledford.
Mar 1 1822
Apr 1 18941
Given the date on his tombstone, y’all probably think I’ve gone ’round the bend, but no, I haven’t. (Not yet, anyway.)
I know that the date on John’s tombstone is wrong because on 19 April 1893 his wife, Amy (Nichols) Ledford, stated John’s date of death when she renounced the right to administer his estate in favor of J. M. Farmer, whom she recommended instead.2
Now, there could be an error in the court record, it’s true, but I can be fairly certain that John died on 2 April 1893 because a notice of his death was published in the local paper. Handily, it mentioned the day of the week on which he died.3
A couple of weeks ago, a research buddy asked me if information from one reliable record is enough. My answer then was, it depends. Perhaps a better answer might have been a question: Do you feel comfortable relying on that one record? In the case of John’s death, I’m certainly glad I kept digging. Knowing exactly when he died may be unimportant in the large scheme of things, but it’s somehow comforting to have a well-documented date.
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1. Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Cemetery (Skeenah Community, Macon County, North Carolina), John Ledford marker, photographed by Dawn Watson 2 May 2012.
2. Macon Co., NC, Loose Estates 1831 – 1920, John Ledford 1893 folder; North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh; NCSA microfilm publication G.061.2317265.
3. John Ledford death notice, The Franklin (North Carolina) Press, 5 April 1893, page 3, column 3.