In 1850, the Census of Dale County (Southern Division), Alabama, indicates that Samuel W. Settles, age 35, was born in Georgia. His wife, age 32, was also born in Georgia, as was his son, George M., age 15. However, the daughter, Margaret M. Settles, age 11, is recorded at that time, as having been born in Alabama.
From this information, we can “guess” that the Settles Family has been in Alabama, for at least the past 11 years (1839) or, for as long as the past 14 or 15 years (1835), when George was born or some time close afterwards. The range then, for them moving from Georgia to Alabama was between 1835-1839.
Furthermore, if the information is correct from this census, then Samuel’s birth was somewhere in the range of about 1815 (family tradition has that he was born in 1812). So, is the census information right? Maybe. Or if Samuel was born in 1812, then the census should have him being about age 38. In which case the census is incorrect.
It is impossible to tell what the truth is from just this one source. I need to compare this census with other census records. I need to find other documents and compare the information on them to this 1850 Census.
I do know where Samuel William Settles is buried; I have been to the cemetery and retrieved the information from the gravestone. The birth and death information from the stone is as follows:
Born 20 April 1812 and Died 10 Nov 1889, putting his age at death at 77. What I need to find out is whether there is another death record that will either confirm this gravestone info as correct or incorrect. Was the state of Florida doing death records that early? What county records might be available? The cemetery resides in Okaloosa County, Florida, but it was actually a part of Walton County in 1889. Just to be on the safe side, I should probably check Walton County and Okaloosa County for any type of death record. And even though I don’t think the state was keeping death records that early, it won’t hurt to check.
I do have a marriage record, amazingly, for Sameul and Rebecca, from 1833, located in the Georgia Archives (I just have a copy, of course). However, no ages are mentioned in the marriage record. Was there a law in Georgia in 1833 that said how old a groom or a bride had to be before getting married?
If Samuel was born in 1812, then he would have been about age 21 at the time when he married. I still have to compare the info on the census records, but there is often a discrepancy between census records, at least one; it is entirely possible that I will not be able to confirm the birth year using all available census records.
I should just be grateful I have as much information as I do have and not worry about looking for a confirmation. Yes or No?
Being thorough has one really big payback: the more facts I accumulate, the better I know the pieces of the puzzle. The better I know the pieces, the more I will know about my third great grandfather and the members of his family.