Most styles of cursive handwriting leave the words David and Daniel looking way too similar. If you don’t already know the given name, it can be very tough to tell which it might be. If you have trouble telling the difference, so has every other clerk and indexer who reads it. Search in both directions to get a clear shot of handwriting on original records showing David or Daniel. Census, marriage, and baptismal records would all work. Don’t use the index as that clerk may have had the same hard time you did deciphering the name, unless the clerk was a relative and then you know he knew whether the man was Daniel or David.
- Look for records printed in nice straight up and down drafting, mechanical drawing or engineer’s block printing.
- Find a middle name as suggestive as Webster.
- Review children and grandchildren for given or middle names of David or Daniel.
- Check future records for both names, even after you have determined which is which.
After the 1870 federal population census, I lost track of Catherine Lonesome born ca. 1852 in Virginia. This isn’t unusual. Given her age 18, I was lucky she still lived with her parents, Moses and Rachel (Taylor) Lonesome in Caroline Co., Virginia in 1870. Many 18 year olds would have left home by then, married or independent. Usually I wouldn’t start researching without a marriage record for a Catherine, seriously. Instead I threw up a search for CATH*, no surname, age 1852 + and – 1, born in Virginia and had only six hits in Caroline Co., Virginia. Three seemed plausible options, Catharine Chiles, Cathrine Cristopher and Catharine Fortune. Catharine Chiles, although in the same enumeration district (E.D.) as her presumed sister JudaRoy in 1880, appears in the 1870 census already married with a child. Cathrine Cristopher appears in the 1880 census in the same enumeration district, two pages from her presumed sister. Catharine Fortune appears in a different E.D. in 1880, so I start with Cathrine Cristopher aka Catherine Christopher, wife of David. Cathrine Cristopher had geography going for her, with seventeen dwellings between her household and that of her suspected mother, sisters and brothers and … she had a son Moses.
Are you Daniel Christopher or David Christopher?
Here is an enlarged section of the 1880 Caroline Co., Virginia federal census (E.D. 30 page 32 line 30 family and dwelling 6) for David and Cathrine Cristopher and their children, Clemma, William, Moses and Jinnie.
The 1900 census shows the same family, different children, but in the same place, outside Bowling Green, Caroline Co., Virginia.
Now the husband looks like Daniel Christopher. Did I read David in the 1880 census by power of suggestion from Ancestry’s indexing? Dang, the power of suggestion. I can not find David in either the 1910 census or the 1870 census, but Dan. Christopher shows up in the 1870 census.
David and Daniel in cursive handwriting resemble each other tremendously. This 1870 census clearly shows Dan. instead of Dav. So I was searching for a person who didn’t exist. While I am satisfied that Daniel Christopher married Catherine (possibly Lonesome) probably around 1872, I will still continue to check both given names. Even when you have figured out it is DANIEL not DAVID, it doesn’t mean clerks and indexers have done the same.
The great thing about Daniel Christopher in the 1900 census and his son Joe Christopher in the 1910 census is that they are both listed as landowners. The deed records of this family are bound to show if Daniel and Catherine Christopher passed their property on to Joe and/or some of the daughters and when.
An aside: In addition to CATH*, I also checked KAT* and found some possible, but no plausible choices.