Today, I share a humorous reminder of why we always check the original source whenever possible, and always look at indexes and abstracts with a healthy dose of “hmmmm…what does it really say?” Last week, whilst searching for Thomas Clendennen [Clendenen] in the 1910 U.S. Census index, I was surprised to find a newborn, little “Baby Mohamed,” enumerated with the family.
Could the Clendennens have been that rare Muslim family in the Bible Belt of central Texas in 1910? That would certainly be a noteworthy entry in the family history. (But…Hmmm, what does it really say, came that little voice inside me.)
And so here it is—the actual entry in the census record. What do you think it says?
Yes, little “Baby Mohamed” is actually little “Baby Not Named”, but it is easy to see how a casual glance at the handwriting could lead an indexer to mistake a wee yet-to-be named Baptist for the namesake of an Islamic Prophet.
So folks, let’s make a New Year’s resolution to be thorough in our research—don’t be satisfied with information obtained from indexes or abstracts. Dig a little deeper into original sources—you may solve a mystery or two.