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What is left unsaid can be important, too

Updated Saturday, April 4, 2009 | 1:26 p.m.

Stefani Evans

Stefani Evans

Genealogists seek information in records.

Sometimes a genealogist is so happy to discover a record she does not look carefully at what the record does not say. The following four extracts from microfilmed Society of Friends (Quaker) records provide example of how enticing coincidences encourage our assumptions.

Society of Friends, Marlborough, met in Ulster County, New York. Men and Women kept minutes of their Monthly Meetings. Women's Monthly Meetings in 1812 and 1813 are no longer extant, but Men and Women conducted similar business and referred communications to each other. I list chronological items below from Men's Monthly Minutes. Paltz and Esopus, smaller Ulster County meetings, reported to Marlborough. The terms Friend and Quaker signified a member of the Society of Friends. Although I spell and punctuate the below items as in the original, remember that spelling did not matter.

  • 26th of 2nd Mo 1812 The womens mg forward to this an acknowledgement for out going in marriage signed by Phebe Dgarmo which they are united in accepting ... and receive her a member.
  • 25th of 3rd Mo 1812 Paltz forwarded a request to be joined in member ship ... signed by Rowland D Garmo ...
  • 22nd of 4th Mo 1812 The Request of Rowland D Garmo being resumed ... mg appears united in receiving him a member ...
  • 23rd day of 6th Mo 1813 Eusopas [sic] forwarded a request to to [sic] come under fds for care signed by John Dgarmo ... By a minute from the women it appears Anna D Garmo formerly Sutton has gon out in marriage - we unite with them then in disowning her.

Let's look at what the records tell us and what knowledge of Quaker ways informs us. On 26 day, 2nd month, 1812, Women's Monthly Meeting accepted Phebe "Dgarmo's" acknowledgment for her outgoing marriage, and men concur; she was reunited with Friends. Phebe married a man named "Dgarmo" and was disowned before Feb. 26, 1812. Phebe was a Friend before she married; her husband was not.

On 25 day, 3rd month, 1812, Paltz forwarded a request by Rowland "D Garmo" to join in membership. If Rowland D Garmo's parents were Quaker he would be a birthright member and he would not need to request membership. Men's Monthly Meeting accepted his request 22 day, 4th month, 1812, and he was then a Friend.

23 day, 7th month, 1813, John "Dgarmo" forwarded a request from Esopus to "come under [friends'] for care," or to become a member. John Dgarmo, like Rowland, was not a birthright Quaker. At the same meeting Men agreed to disown Anna "De Garmo," formerly Sutton, who married out of unity. Anna Sutton was formerly a Friend, but the Women's and Men's Meetings disowned her because she married a man (named De Garmo) not a Friend.

Despite tempting correlations, these entries do not state a relation between Rowland or John; nor do they suggest marriage of Rowland or John to Phebe [--?--] or Anna Sutton. We use the juxtaposed names as clues for further research, but we do not claim what is not there.

Turns out John and Rowland were indeed brothers. John married Sarah Culver in about 1806; Rowland married Phebe Sutton (a Friend) in about 1810 (she acknowledged her transgression February 1812). David DeGarmo, brother of John and Rowland, married Phebe's sister, Anna Sutton, shortly before Friends disowned Anna in June 1813.

Careful genealogists do not make assumptions the evidence does not support. Thanks to Christy Fillerup for retrieving the above from the Family History Library.

Stefani Evans is a board-certified genealogist and a volunteer at the Regional Family History Center. She can be reached c/o the Home News, 2360 Corporate Circle, Third Floor, Henderson, NV 89074, or [email protected].

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