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I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but there is a significant amount of human error involved in these vital records from the 1800s. The most common error happens when a child dies very young, and the next born child of the same sex is given the same name. For example, let’s say Maria Leone dies as a baby in 1815 and another girl is born to the same parents in 1816. She will also be named Maria Leone.

The error occurs when Maria gets married and the civil servant accidentally pulls the birth record for the deceased Maria instead of the newlywed Maria. Before I realized this was a possibility, I had a number of dead toddlers married with children! All you can do is go with logic and write it off as a human error.

I was reminded of this phenomenon a few days ago when I decided to use the new, improved error finding report in Family Tree Maker. There are many options from which to select, such as a marriage date occurring after a death death, a birth date occurring before the child’s mother is 13 years old, or a birth date occurring more than one year after the child’s father has died.

After running this report, I revisited my raw data file (a simple text file of every fact I collected from the Baselice documents) and made several corrections to my Family Tree database. There are still a number of clear errors, but I don’t know if I will be able to find the definitive truth. One example is a man that I had to make older because his parents’ birth and death dates are documented, and they would have been either too old or far too dead to have him. But making him older made him too old for his own children. So something is wrong; perhaps a generation is missing.

Many times I believe the error happens because the entire population of the town used such a small number of names. Every family has an Angelamaria, for example. So perhaps I’ve given a child to the wrong couple—a couple with the exact same names as another couple.

I will continue to revisit the error report and my raw data, and hopefully make correct assumptions. Meanwhile, here is a link to the latest database containing a staggering 15,970 people!

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