Hartley or Harkley, That is the Question?
My Great Great Grandmother Nancy E. (Hartley) or as her surname was known to me, was going to remain as that, as long as I didn’t have enough proof that it could be (Harkley). I also was focusing on the Cully branch and figured that it was taking too much effort for me to find anything on Nancy. One of the few documents that I did find with Nancy’s Maiden Name was her Wedding Bond, registered with Craven County, North Carolina County Clerk and the one registered with the State of North Carolina, (and mind you, it was not even the original document, but one that had been transcribed).
|Nancy & William Cully North Carolina Collection|
Well whenever you are doing scholarly research and publishing your results, it is always open to criticism, as questions can and will be raised. Well, my distant cousin-in-law, Debra Newton-Carter, the genealogist/and writer of In Black and White:Cross-Cultural Genealogy, questioned my latest post Cully Surname Part #2.
Debra stated, “Go to the New Bern-Craven County Public Library site for the book & page number for the marriage bond: http://newbern.cpclib.org/research/marriage/marreg2.asp
Also, while it records her name as Nancy Hartley, she is most likely a Harkley. They are also related to Carters, Georges and Moores, and I know several of the family from the George Family Reunions.”
“@Debra, I have noticed that the Harkley’s are related to all the Surnames listed, however, I have not found anything over the years listing Nancy as a Harkley. I have looked at originals and it say Hartley. If you can find this relation and that it really is a misspelling please show me as it really would be most helpful. I believe I found someones tree with Harkley but I told them it was Hartley. I will relook. Thank you for your continued scholarship.
I could have left it at that, but one thing that Debra had stated that stuck with me in one of her blog posts regarding proving through documents was:
“Sometimes we attach sentimental value upon a loved one’s suppositions that we find difficult to relinquish. . . . but accurate research must be verified by the artifacts and documents left behind, leaving a trace of their existence and contribution to a way of life deemed foreign to us today. “
I knew I must follow through, and find whatever evidence I had to prove or disprove Nancy’s Maiden Surname.
So, even though I had seen other documents in the past with Harkley, I decided, I would focus on those and look at the originals, and not just the transcribed documents. This is what I found:
|Melvina C. Robinson Death Record
(Transcribed)Listed Mother (Nancy E. Harkley)
|Melvina C. Robinson Death Certificate
Nancy E. Harkley and William H Cully were listed on Sarah F. Whittington original Death Certificate as her parents.
|Sara F. Whittington Death Certificate
Daughter of William Cully & Nancy E. Harkley
I went another step to find any records on Nancy Harkley, and could only at this time go as far back as 1850. Nancy Harkley was listed in the household with the Godett’s and she was 17 yrs at the time.
|Nancy Harkley in 1850 US Census w/Godett’s|
Based on the documentation, It is most likely that Nancy E. is a “Harkley” and not a “Hartley”. When it comes to research, you must be willing to give up some of your old unproven beliefs and be willing to discover what is the truth, that is if you want accurate information attached to your family tree.