Five Wives & A Feather Bed: Using Indirect and Negative Evidence to Resolve Conflicting Claims

Mark A. Wentling, MLS, CG
May 18, 2022
Free through May 24, 2022
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1m 07s
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About BCG
4m 27s
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Speaker's Introduction
1m 48s
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1m 24s
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Key Concepts
3m 28s
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2m 01s
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Conflicting Claims
3m 04s
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38m 47s
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13m 05s
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2m 08s
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Questions / answers
9m 43s

About this webinar

Genealogical scholars make conflicting claims about the number of wives, and the number and mothers of the children, of Joseph Brownell, a Mayflower descendant of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, born at Little Compton, Rhode Island, 16 February 1699, to Thomas Brownell and Esther Taber. These conflicting claims raise significant questions about the makeup of Joseph Brownell’s family. Did he have one, two or five wives? Did he have one, three or eight children? To which wife, or wives, were they born? The presenter will lead participants through reasonably exhaustive research and standards-based evaluation of indirect and negative evidence found in Quaker meeting records, and vital, land and probate records to demonstrate how proof can be constructed to answer these questions. Correlation of this evidence with the timespan of each marriage will then enable his children to be assigned to their correct mothers.

About the speaker

About the speaker

Mark A. Wentling, MLS, CG, owner of Ancestor Introductions, is a full-time, Board-certified genealogist in the Boston-Providence area with more than 25 years of research experience. He is an adjunct professor at the University of New Haven, where
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  1. ZD
    Zack Daugherty
    2 days ago

    Love watching case studies such as this.

    Curious if the Joseph Brownell of Canada being attributed as the son of Joseph Brownell of Dartmouth and Leah Lawton not being a certainty given lacked of sourced records for this supposed connection. Is it possible to evaluate this assertion using DNA assuming the Joseph Brownell in Canada had descendants? This would be an extremely difficult undertaking with atDNA – but if patriline descendants of this Joseph in Canada exist in the present day AND ones exist for Joseph Brownell of Darthmouth via his other sons; or even via his father Thomas and/or his brother Thomas; then it maybe possible to support or easily dismiss this connection with a targeted testing research plan.

  2. BF
    Beth Finch McCarthy
    2 days ago

    Excellent presentation! The way Mark presented the evidence in a logical way, whether by family group, record set, or biographical timeline, was clear and digestible for anyone not familiar with the time period. I wish I’d chatted with him before I embarked on my Mayflower client project. Quaker records, he reminds us, are so important but often passed over in Colonial research. Great work!

  3. WB
    Wanda Bower
    2 days ago

    Excellent case study and clearly explained. I’m currently working on distinguishing one to three (or more!) men with the same name who all seem to have married women named Elizabeth. This webinar makes me think that, with enough persistence and sufficient record keeping, I might be able to untangle my own mystery.

  4. DG
    D. Gordon Draves
    2 days ago

    Very good, interesting, showed his persistence. It is amazing that the records still exist to allow Mark to connect all of the various sources he needed to compile so the story came together. It is a great job of research. We are lucky that a single spark didn’t destroy the links that weaved the tapestry together.

  5. TS
    Traci S. Kape Thysell-McPherson
    2 days ago

    Excellent Presentation Mark! Invaluable information! What an amazing case study, you had to be quite the sleuth. Look forward to the book. Thank you! Time well spent.

  6. LM
    Lynda McCann
    2 days ago

    Tonight’s speaker was enthusiastic, clear, and in presenting the topic definitely demonstrated how to weave together a cogent argument.

  7. CR
    Cindy Romero
    2 days ago

    Very informative-I learned what negative evidence is and a lot about Quakers.

  8. DL
    Debra Levinson
    2 days ago

    The information provided by Mark Wentling clearly demonstrates that one has to understand the records that one uses while researching and develop a full understanding of what they may mean. I liked the citations in the presentation which would easily lead to one finding the same type of documents needed to conduct research from that time. Thank you for sharing


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