Separating and Merging Identities of Same-named Men

Shannon Green, CG, CGG
Nov 17, 2020
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About BCG
4m 56s
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Speaker's Introduction
1m 30s
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6m 06s
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Census Comparison
4m 34s
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2m 11s
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Conflicting Evidence
2m 57s
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Case Study
35m 21s
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Identity Characteristics
5m 33s
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Questions / answers
14m 54s

About this webinar

Can the same man die twice? Two different probates years apart appear to be for different men, but they are not. Research into probate records revealed more men by the same name. Each man’s identity needed to be developed to distinguish them from each other. This case study uses probate records, deeds, census records, newspapers, tax rolls, town records, newspapers, neighborhoods, and handwriting analysis to distinguish these men. Learn ways to distinguish same-named men as well as warnings of how identities can be incorrectly conflated.

About the speaker

About the speaker

Shannon Green, CG, is a genealogy researcher, writer, and educator. She started looking into her ancestry in 2010 and has been debunking family lore, overturning famil
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  1. JM
    Joy Metcalf
    6 months ago

    The first time I came across this was on my father’s Irish line. Fahy or Fahey is a common name, as is Patrick and Bridget. In my case, I had a Bridget Fahy who had a brother named Patrick Fahy. She also married someone (a cousin?) named Patrick Fahy (didn’t change her name!). Her brother married a woman named Bridget who died in childbirth. A few years later he married again–to another Bridget. Not only did all these Patrick and Bridget Fahys live in the same town, they lived on the same street and worked at the same mill. And both Patricks were born in Ireland within a year of each other. Add to that another Patrick and Bridget Fahy who lived a couple of towns over, same birth years and both born in Ireland. Did I mention they all had children with similar names? Luckily, this Patrick was tailor so he was easier to separate out.

  2. Legacy Family Tree
    4 years ago

    Love the explanation of the process using case studies.

    ..excellent tools that I’m already using to solve some mysteries 🙂

    All the information was helpful, but I especially appreciate the forms for comparing census data, etc. — it’s just something I hadn’t thought of that will make finding multiple people much easier — and clean up my records.

    Always enjoy Shannon’s presentations.

    always good to listen to new ideas on same name people

    Amazing! Can’t wait for Mod. 5 at BU to see what else I can learn from Shannon

    Amazing! She fit so many good things into such a short time. She didn’t waste time and yet it was easy to follow her through a confusing subject! She had a great case study.

    amazingly clear speaker. topic flowed so well.

    appreciate the visuals and will begin to use xlc sheets more.

    Appreciated the organized manor in which the information was presented. Very easy to follow and understand.

    As a student of Shannon’s in the BU General Principles class, I find her research fascinating and so well organized. I was pleased to attend this webinar and hear more of her work.

    awesome presentation with wonderful documenation examples and how to distinguish the same or different namespeople.


    Beautifully organized!

    Brilliant webinar with lots of great information which I will be able to put into practice with my genealogical researching.

    Brilliant! Has given me additional ideas to apply when disentangling same-named people in my Irish research. Can’t wait to apply what I’ve learnt. Thanks

    Can’t wait to try some of these tips. I have multiple same-name ancestors.

    Cleanly presented, lively speaking tone, enjoyable subject matter.

    Clear and concise. Shannon made it sound simple enough to work on my same-named individuals.

    Clear, concise presentation of a complex subject. Well done.

    Easy to listen to and to understand examples given. Fantastic examples

    Enjoyable and most informative.

    Enjoyed immensely and have a much better take on my research. Thanks to one and all for putting these webinars on.

    Enjoyed seeing Shannon’s process. The handout will be helpful in the future.

  3. Legacy Family Tree
    4 years ago






    Excellent – very helpful for an overwhelming research problem. I can use the tips and strategies immediately.

    Excellent and very clear. Good speaker.

    excellent outline , info on how to approach problem

    Excellent presentation with more applications than I would have assumed from the title, assuming it was going to be about common surnames.

    Excellent presentation! It’s helpful that Shannon gave homework and also reminded us of important steps to follow.

    Excellent presentation! I’m going to use this technique to hopefully solve the mystery of several same name men in my tree.

    Excellent presentation. Suggested great problem-solving tactics.

    Excellent presentation. The information was clearly presented, and I can see how I’ll use these tips in my own research. I recently completed the BU Principles course, and it was great to see how Shannon uses the techniques taught in the course (as well as other strategies).

    Excellent presentation. Very helpful. This makes me rethink my past research. I was impressed with her exhaustive research.

    Excellent presenter and many wonderful detailed suggestions that I will surely try to apply in my own research!

    Excellent presenter and material well written.

    Excellent program that opened my eyes.

    Excellent speaker with excellent methods.

    Excellent tips for sorting same-named individuals! Thank you!

    Excellent webinar — and entertaining also.

    Excellent webinar!

    Excellent webinar! Shannon gave a very clear explanation of her process & her case study was easy to follow & interesting. She also has a great speaking voice which kept my interest.

    Excellent webinar! Excellent presenter!

    Excellent webinar. Provided a framework with examples of how to do the analysis.

    Excellent webinar. She has a good speaking voice and pronounces clearly and distinctly. Good use of visuals.

    Excellent well organized – great job of simplifying a complex issue



    Excellent! Enjoyed lecture and loved the cases mentioned.

    Excellent! So full of information & how to overcome or figure out these ‘conflicts’ when we encounter these situations -which happens alot (as you know)!! THANK YOU!

    Excellent, clear presentation

    Excellent, gives me a real focus on breaking down my brick walls. Thank you

    Excellent, well-organized and informative presentation.


    Excellent…lots of good info

    Excellent-great tools…thanks!


    Extremely helpful suggestions for tackling a very common and tricky genealogical problem spanning many generations for both males and females

    Extremely useful. I have at least 3 same-name possibilities for one male ancestor .I can’t wait to apply her ideas.


    Fantastic – took lots of notes too

    fantastic, so clear and spoken with enthusiasm and knowledge.

    Gave me some good examples to follow up with.

    Giving a systematic way of tracking records was very helpful (timeline, table)

    Golly. Such detailed research and such good documentation, not to mention the tools used…I am inspired and I aspire


    good detail and practical. I have to watch the spreadsheet part again to see how you used the notes.

  4. Legacy Family Tree
    4 years ago

    Good info and syllabus!

    good information

    Good slides

    Good strategy and clue identification guidance. In my case, I am just learning about the targeted strategies and potential resources for more detail that can be compared. I have an ancestor who was orphaned at age 3 with possible siblings. He was born after the 1880 census, the 1890 census burned, and he became 18 in 1900 (where I found him). This webinar gives me potential resources to follow in New York ; not sure California will have it. His beginning predates organization & record keeping.

    Good tips on resolving same name issues.

    Great discussion of the various ways of finding out more information about someone.

    great ideas for the amateur–I especially liked the spreadsheet and timeline ideas.

    Great ideas to pursue.

    Great ideas to work on! Thanks

    great info from a person with such a pleasant voice

    Great information & well presented.

    great information & well timed presentation too.

    Great information and methodology!

    Great information. Thanks

    Great information. Walking through the “thought process” made this webinar exceptionally helpful.

    Great presentation.

    Great presentation. Will definitely watch this one again.

    Great processes to utilize.

    Great speaker!!!

    Great tips and strategies for analyzing these situations. Very easy to follow and listen to.

    Great topic, overload of information… 🙂

    Great webinar.

    Have watched many “same name” presentations, learned something from each. There is a good reason this is a repeating topic! Wondered what more another one could add. Answer: lots! Got a new way of approaching this now, and some new hints for putting info together. Plus I’ve come across another dandy example to apply what I’ve learned to. Thanks!

    Helped with the case study I am doing for certification. Thanks.

    Helpful information that I’ll put to good use in my research

    I always love a good case study. Thank you!

    I am always on the lookout for tips on how to handle ‘same name’ cases. Shannon’s presentation was clear and well-organized, with precise tips on things to look out for and tips on how to organize the information. The presentation was beautifully paced and the slides were clear and easy to read. I look forward to seeing more webinars from this presenter.

    I am working on proving or disproving that it was my ancestor William Drury named in the 1797 will of John Desales Drury in St Mary’s Co, MD. So far, I think I have 4 different men. Shannon gave me some great hints to apply to this problem. Very informative. Thanks!!!
    I found Shannon’s examples and walking through the methodology to be very well articulated despite a lot of data. I thought the recap at the end focusing on the census comparison, timeline, and addressing conflicting evidence to be helpful. I can’t wat to go back and try it on a couple of my meddlesome same name people.

    I found the outline of ways to separate men of the same name to be very helpful.

    I found this presentation very informative and I will definitely be re-watching it to make sure I got it all. Lots of information.

    I had to leave early; however, I look forward to finishing it. Interesting!

    I have a family of Adam Harpold/Harpoles that I need to sort out and hopefully this will help

    I have been wondering how to approach a same name study on an ancestor of mine. This webinar gave some great examples and has given me a way to do the study successfully. Thank you

    I have several cases of same-names men and women so this will help alot in figuring out which ones are appropriate.

  5. Legacy Family Tree
    4 years ago

    I hope Shannon Green is a regular at Legacy!

    I joined late but still benefitted, thank you

    I learned a lot!

    I love how Shannon can concisely explain her research methods for a problem that would probably drive most of us researchers mad. Thanks for the great tips and resources!

    I love the investigative approach. Great presentation!

    I needed this webinar if only to encourage me to revisit a men-of-the-same-name ancestor.

    I really enjoyed how Shannon presented her case study — analyzing her documents and the data within to come to a logical conclusion.

    I remember that article about Richard Bedell. It was very impressive!

    I started watching a bit late. I leave work at 8 and get home act 8:20.

    I will definitely need to re-watch this webinar to enhance my understanding of this complex subject! But, I am ready to go full steam ahead on using what I already learned on this first viewing! The best thing about genealogy is that we never run out of things to learn.

    I wish I could give Shannon a 10. I LOVE webinars like this. Over the course of 40+ years, I’ve run into this kind of problem, too, and it is nice to watch a professional resolve it, bit by bit. (Of course it didn’t hurt that I used to live in that area so thoroughly enjoyed the familiar geographic locations). Thanks very much. Great evening.

    I’ll be using as many of these suggestions as possible to find the correct John Johnson+Mary Johnson named as the parents of my gg-grandmother. She was born in 1840, married to her first husband by 1860, so the only census where she’ll be found with her parents is 1850. That makes it hard to corroborate info from different sources.

    I’m very impressed at the amount of work that goes into verifying (clarifying) the resolution of same-name persons. Besides all of the involved cerybrial work, she had a fabulous presentation.

    Immediate application and learned more information about NY records.

    Information was very easy to follow and well organized.

    Informative, professional and user-friendly! Thanks!

    Interesting and thought provoking case study.

    Interesting topic. Thanks for the info.

    Interesting, informative and well presented. Thanks.

    It broke my brain, but when I recover, I know I’ll be a better genealogist! (Seriously, Shannon is an outstanding teacher; great voice and pace, love her self-effacing honesty and how empowering she is.)

    It helped me with more than just same-named people. Thanks.

    It helps me with school work At BYU-I for my degree in Family History Research

    It was fantastic. Such great ideas for sorting out same named folks. Thank you.

    It was Great

    It was interesting,

    It was packed and a bit overwhelming, but I appreciate the organized framework. The presenter was wonderfully organized, raised interesting thoughts and made it seem so darn easy! Looking putting this into practice.

    It was very helpful to actually watch (via the graphical presentation) how Shannon compared and eliminated potential names (people) from her search.

    It was wonderful. We all come across this problem and she gave me some good organizational ideas.

    I’ve been trying to separate and/or join 4 Samuel Thomas persons for over 35 years! I had done all you suggested, and still failed to “resolve” the conflicts. But realized a fresh eye plus so much more available now online just might prove helpful – so encouraged/inspired to tackle this again – one just may be my 5th great grandfather, and/or 5th grand uncle – or no relation. But either way, satisfying my curiosity would be a gain. Thanks.

    I’ve resolved many of my problems in this area through careful research, but I know there are more to come and I really appreciate all of the great advice. It’ll make research a lot easier when another comes along. This was great. Probably the most helpful webinar here so far, although I’ve seen many really useful ones. Thanks.

    learned a lot

  6. Legacy Family Tree
    4 years ago

    Learned a lot of new ideas for my research.

    Learned a lot! Thanks.

    Learned several new useful techniques–thanks!

    Lots of good information and reminders

    Lots of great suggestions to research same name.

    lots of techniques

    LOVED IT! What I really liked was Shannon’s specific steps, AND her challenge to us to use them!

    Lucky you to find things in New York. I’m researching my husband’s Southern roots and find many states and/or counties don’t have records online, especially pre-Civil War.

    My having been a bookkeeper, I appreciate spreadsheets. Great way to put everything in one place for comparisons.

    Ms. Green made her research sound like it was more fun than work. She was a wonderful speaker and I hope you will invite her back many time. This was my favorite Webinar of all I have ever attended online. Her presentation was as nicely organized at her research methods. She was inspiring. Thank you for offering this webinar.

    my mind is spinning. i have multiple people (men & women) with same names. i will be going back using some of your techniques & hints

    nicely done

    Nicely done.

    One of the best I have listened to! This is such an important subject as seen in all the erroneous trees out there, but because of the complexity, it is often glossed over in genealogy education. Shannon methodically presented great information with wonderful visuals and pertinent genealogical examples. Pleasant speaking voice, good pace, and enthusiasm for the subject combined to make this webinar well worth the time! Looking forward to more webinars from Shannon!

    only heard part of presentation. Appreciated her charting if in prep for merging or separating/eliminating. Lots of helpful detail there.


    Outstanding. Hopefully tomorrow, I’ll have an opportunity to use what I learned.

    over the top excellent

    Packed full of good and useful content. Well presented. One of the best I’ve experienced!

    Problems after 1800 are easy to spot because of the number of records available. It is the case of one name, more than one person earlier ie. 16th and 17th century I have difficulty with. Additionally I have very little research in the US and this seminar dealt only with US records, so was not of much value to me. However, it did confirm that my methodology when dealing with more recent records is sound.

    Really enjoyed it. The steps Shannon took were outlined well and easy to follow. Great tips.

    Really good ideas and hints for same name research and for research in general!! Wonderful hints on keeping data straight! Thanks so very much!!

    Scots are very frustrating. 31 Duncan Campbells in the same cemetery. 5 Gabriel McDonalds in the same township. Thank you Shannon for your ‘no nonsense’ approach to these problems.

    Shannon did a great job of providing proven strategies for a common problem that all of us have faced. It was both informative and enjoyable.

    Shannon did a great job, professional, nice voice, knew her stuff. I enjoyed her and she goes on my list of genealogists to follow.

    Shannon gave an excellent webinar, packed with so much information to consider when trying to find the correct ancestor by differentiating between the possibilities.

    Shannon Green did a wonderful job with her Same Name presentation. Lots of helpful methodology.

    Shannon Green was knowledgeable, easily clear and understood, and a very pleasant speaker. I could listen to her all day!.

    Shannon is a very good speaker. Very clear and easy to understand. Appreciate her examples.

    Shannon is an amazing presenter. So relatable and organized and I could really follow her process. This was my 1st webinar here and I’ll be back!

    Shannon is very concise and explained the strategies very well. It was also good to know that she makes mistakes and is not afraid to admit and correct them.

    Shannon is wonderful! Thank you so much!

  7. Legacy Family Tree
    4 years ago

    Shannon really did have some good ideas for untangling multiple people. Her presentation was excellent!

    Shannon was clear and presented well. Lots of good information that was well presented.

    Shannon was very clear! She also made sure that we understood the steps she took and made them accessible to the viewer. This was my first time hearing her lecture and I’m excited to hear her again!

    Shannon, thanks for the wonderful webinar!

    Shannon’s strategies were unique and I will certainly be incorporating them into my war chest.

    Shannon’s voice is the most enjoyable of all webinars I’ve attended.. She speaks at a good pace, enunciates every word, and is clearly enthusiastic. I could listen to her give advice any time and for any length of time and never tire. Her content in her webinar was awesome.

    She presented good analysis method for verifying people as the correct person.

    She was excellent. Great speaking style that made ideas clear and easy to follow her train of thought, a great teaching style.

    She was very easy to listen to, very knowledgeable, and have wonderful tips.

    so informative!!

    So many new ideas for researching same named individuals. I have two Alva (Alvah) Gee names that are father and son, however I find that I have to (MUST) look at the birthdate in order to determine which record is for which. One had a middle name, and the elder one did not…but that is not always helpful.

    So much information given to us! Different avenues to search that I would not have possibly considered. Thank you

    So organized and detailed. I feel like I could actually follow Shannon’s steps and be successful in figuring out same-named individuals. Thank you!

    So practical and useful. I love case studies since they teach the research process, questions, and more! This was very clear, and the handout is very helpful as well! The BCG webinars always feel like I’m taking an important course in my self-education! Cheers.

    So, so helpful. I’ve had the problem of same named people many times, and Shannon Green gave me new approaches to try

    Some good suggestions – hope to help me sort out four 1st cousins of the same name, born in the same Scottish town within a 10-year period! Genealogy is never easy!

    Speaker was very knowledgeable, well-organized, and easy to follow.

    such good details and analytical thought process

    super presentation

    Syllabus and webinar content are very educational and the presentation was excellent. Thank you, Shannon!!!

    Terrific researcher!

    thank you -very timely and helpful for my research

    Thank you!

    that is one smart cookie. Learned so much

    That was AMAZING! I am going to rewatch the detailed parts of this tomorrow and pause to more throughly examine the details (but I think the amount of time you spent tonight was perfect. You explained the relavent facts well so I could easily follow. It is because you did such an excellent job tonight that I wish to rewatch and rexamine the case tomorrow.)

    The best webinar I remember ever.

    The “Don’ts” at the beginning were great!

    The clear path to study differences and similarities. Thank you.

    The presenter was very knowledgeable on her topic

    The slides were very well written, and the flow of the webinar was perfect. Thank you.

    This gave me so many ideas about sorting out my g-g-grandfather, Peter Ruhl, from the “other” Peter Ruhl who was born in the same area around the same time but is not a relative. That I know of.

    This is my second time listening to this talk by Shannon. I liked it so much I was excited to listen again! It’s complicated and she is a whiz at uncomplicating & teaching… and presenting! Thank you!

    This speaker is very organized and clear in helping us understand how problems can be teased apart to see what may be happening in this same name situation. Outstanding work here. Loved the shared spreadsheets that showed actual examples to help make it clear. Had a few light bulb moments just like Geoff.

    This was a perfect webinar for my current conundrum — a branch of my birth family has many generations and within the same generation all with the same names. To add to the research headaches, the names are very common in England. Thank you for some great strategies and insight.

    This was a very informative webinar. Shannon is a wonderful and engaging speaker! Thank you.

    This was actually my very first webinar ever and I found it very informative. I do plan on going back and listening to it again to pick up on anything I may have missed the first time around.

    This was an excellent webinar! The tips and tricks provided were extremely practical and useful. I can’t wait to apply what I’ve learned.

  8. Legacy Family Tree
    4 years ago

    This was by far one of the best presented and most interesting presentations I have attended. Looking forward to more from Shannon Green!!!!!

    This was FANTASTIC. Seriously one of the best webinars I’ve attended. Please bring Shannon Green back on more topics.

    This was most helpful!

    This was very clear and organized presentation of this topic. The examples of how to compare information from different sources was very helpful.

    Thought provoking!

    Very clear steps to find the information needed to get answers to the problem

    Very good

    Very good

    Very good strategies to use to distinguish people of the same name.

    Very helpful – I have a lot of Charles and Andrew in my tree…I swear every child was given the same name…lol

    Very helpful advice, clearly explained.

    Very helpful hints when it comes to trying to sort out same named persons in the same area.

    very helpful organization of the material

    Very helpful outline

    Very impressive webinar today by Shannon Green. Excellent strategies and examples.

    very informative

    Very informative & informative. Thank you.

    Very informative and helpful. I know now I have a lot of research to do to sort some folks out. But now I know how to start.

    Very informative!

    Very informative, learned a lot!!!

    Very informative. It was well presented and easy to follow. I like that she showed how to see if you had the problem and outlined how to fix it.

    Very informative. I will be watching this one again. Thank you.

    very interesting

    Very interesting and great speakers voice.

    very interesting and helpful topic. Speaker was engaging

    Very interesting and informative on the many places and research possibilities.

    Very interesting and informative. Gave lots of ideas on how to sort out individuals. Loved the timelines, tables & spreadsheets to do side-by-side comparisons. A bit hard to follow at times, due to the nature of the discussion – dealing with multiple identities.

    Very interesting and some good suggestions for researching.

    Very interesting case studies and a lot of good information.

    Very interesting to follow the methodology, even though I have no US family.

    very interesting, love the s/sheets to gather information

    very interesting. excellent voice. good ideas

    Very interesting. Gave me some ideas on how to find a difficult ancestor born in NY who has no identifiable parents.

    Very nformative in a lot of ways.

    Very nice presentation.

    Very organized & well presented

    Very well organized and the pace of the presenter was excellent. Sample spreadsheets were very helpful. I loved hearing that everyone doesn’t appreciate her correcting their publicly posted family trees — I have found the same thing. People make a LOT of errors on their public trees and really don’t care to correct them. So, it was good to know that’s a common experience. Great webinar! Thank you.

    Very well organized.

    Very well presented. Excellent ideas on how to approach and solve the same-named individuals. Clear direction and logical in approach.

    Wealth of information

    Well done and very informative

    Well organized, informative, easily understood. Thank you so much for. sharing!

    Well presented both oral and visual.

    Well presented!

    wellk done

    What a great presentation!

    Will apply this to further distinguishing two different Eugene Weiszes who were same age, same country of birth, served in US military about same time.

    Wonderful information; helped me realize how much effort it takes to do genealogy research….but well worth it when you can prove or disprove ancestral information.

    Wonderful presenter, Great ideas, and Step-by-step directions!

    Wonderful seminar – very thorough and informative. Would love to hear more from Shannon in the future.

    Wonderful. This webinar was jammed packed with great information I can use. I will definitely be re-watching to get the full benefit.

    Wonderfully explained for such complicated material


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