5.12.2014

Charles B. & Emeline (Main) Randall - Seven Children They Never Had

"Glean, Sift, and Confirm"


In recent years Genealogy has become main stream.  The internet has taken hold and left behind lovely worn books, microfilm readers, and many a knowledgeable researcher.

For accurate family history attention to every detail is a must.  The researcher must never assume, but confirm dates, and become knowledgeable about the such things as the history of their ancestral nativity, cultures, migratory patterns, religion, and politics.  Often times, even after researching all details, one is left speculating and using other pieces of family information to merely form an opinion.

Unfortunately, main stream hobbyists of this intriguing field of study take far too much for granted by believing that which is published or appears online is factual, or close enough to the possible truth.  This mentality is enough to make a seasoned researcher cringe as errors become passed on from one individual to another.

On the up-side, the internet has brought a great deal of valuable data to serious researchers, and the list of images being uploaded and indexed by volunteers continues to grow at a very fast and steady pace.  Online connecting with distant cousins has also been very rewarding.  One can now fire off an email with attached documents and images, and receive immediate responses.  No more waiting weeks for a self-addressed stamped envelope to return from a possible relation, historical society or office of the county clerks.

The millions of images which have been made available on our home computers have also brought to light errors in earlier publications mostly due lack of available data at that time.  One quickly realizes other "errors" might have been intentional.  For instance, many county histories published in the early 1900's were white-washed or purely fraud.  Examples of this would be an abandoned woman cited as a widow, or a publishing company fabricating family histories and mass marketing them by surname.

I have come across instances of each, and although I miss sitting at the ol’ microfilm reader and winding the film frame by frame, I must admit that the availability of so many free records has made it both easier and quicker to find and confirm information.

Take for instance an email I received last week from researcher, distant cousin and friend, Ken Randall.  He asked if I might help him confirm the children of a family we had researched together  He was, as he should have been, hesitant to believe the information but since he'd come across it in a published genealogy, he wondered if we might have missed something.

A portion of his email reads: “I was wondering if you would take a quick look at line 318 referencing Charles Babcock (Randall) who married (1st) Emeline Main in Camillus, NY. The way I interpret this, there were a number of children born of this marriage.”


I first looked over the census records we had already gathered for Charles B. Randall.  As stated in the book, he was born on 03 Apr 1826 in New York.  We had found him listed in his father Isaac’s 1850 household in Lenox, Madison County.  In 1870, Charles and his wife Emeline had moved and were residing in St. Charles, Winona Co., Minnesota.  The household did not, nor did their 1880 household, include any children.


Using the list of children in the publication, I first searched for Ida Randall at Family Search, but came up with far too many results.  I then searched for her sibling Cynthia as this was a much less common name for that time period.  She quickly appeared in the search results along with the other siblings listed in the 1880 household as children of Isaac P. Randall and his wife Fidelia (Snyder) who were still residing in the town of Lenox, New York.   As shown in the image to the right, this leaves little doubt as to whether the seven children had been born to Charles and Emeline.


Vol 14-15, p. 22
Additionally, when I dug a little further, I found the editor or author of the publication had correctly identified these children as Isaac’s in Volume 14-15 on page 22, as noted in the image to the right.  This was such an easy mistake to have made prior to the days of computer and software programs which today help us sort and keep all things organized.  So despite the error, I still find this publication to be of great value to the Lewis family researchers as there are countless stories, clippings, and genealogies of the various families which, if not perfectly accurate, offer many clues and leads to further one's investigation.

My message here is: glean, sift, and confirm information through other sources, and remember to always check other volumes within the same work as there is often an addendum which may add or correct information you had already extracted.

Happy Searching,




Source: "Lewisiana or The Lewis Letter" was published from 1893 to 1907 and was edited by Carll Lewis in Elliot, Connecticut.  Ken's email was from Vol 13, p. 315-316 (1902).

Genealogical Note:  Charles Babcock Randall and Isaac Pratt Randall were the sons of Isaac Randall and Betsey Lewis, natives of Voluntown, New London Co., CT who later lived in Lenox, Madison Co., New York.    Emeline, the wife of Charles and daughter of Norman and Susan (Matteson) Main died in St. Charles, Winona Co., Minnesota on 05 Nov 1880.  Charles married on 05 Dec 1891 in St. Charles, Minnesota, Mary Marie Short, the daughter of Martin Short, a Union soldier who had been captured at Brice's Crossroads and died in Andersonville Prison in August of 1864.  Mary (Short) and Charles were the parents of four children including Ruth; a daughter "M.E." who died in 1891 at age 6; a son who died at about two weeks of age; and son Asa Benjamin Randall, grandfather of Ken Randall, inquirer of the 7 Randall children. -pdp

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