Surname Saturday: Nathaniel Charles Gordon is not Charles’ Father

Today, I’m sharing information that proves a relationship to be false. Sadly, I don’t know how the connection came to be in my research. I’m diligently trying to document everything. It’s tough when I’m compiling information from so many different sources. In any case, I found a relationship error. I need to remember the error so that I don’t repeat it again. (And hopefully, others won’t either.)

My proven 2nd great grandfather is Charles Gordon:
Birth: Oct 1801 in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, United States
Death: 22 Mar 1873 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, United States

Charles married Jane Fickle:
Birth: 6 Dec 1803 in Monogalia, Virginia, United States
Death: 3 Jun 1865 in Worthington, Franklin, Ohio, United States

At some point in my research, Charles was linked as the son of:

Nathaniel Charles Gordon
Birth 1755 in Virginia, USA
Death September 12 1809 in Wilkes County, Georgia, USA


Nancy Gordon
Birth 1759 in Spotsylvania, Spotsylvania, Virginia, United States
Death 7 Oct 1835 in Jones County, Georgia, USA

Two things finally jumped out at me as to the fact that this might not be a correct relationship and I should investigate further. The first was that Charles was born in Pennsylvania. Now, it’s possible that Nathaniel and Nancy could have been in Pennsylvania in 1801, but as they moved further south (to Georgia), I think that’s not likely.

The second thing was that Nancy would have been 42 years old when she gave birth to Charles. Although it’s entirely possible to have babies that late in a woman’s life, when the birth year is 1801, it’s a red flag for me to investigate.

So, I decided to look through my source information. I had source information for Charles’ marriage to Jane Fickle. No parents are listed. I noticed that the remaining sources were census records back to 1850 and the cemetery record which listed no parents other than “Gordon”. So, I personally had no information saying who Charles’ parents were. And, I have no idea how I incorporated Nathaniel Charles and his family into my tree. Note to self, don’t do this again.

So then I decided to work ‘backward’ if you will. I decided to investigate Nathaniel Charles Gordon’s source information. I checked first to see what citations people used for him. I found several references to Nathaniel being a Revolutionary War soldier. That’s cool.

Then I discovered a story about Nathaniel. Now I don’t mean to be rude, but it was hard to read. Someone copied an email into the story field and didn’t adjust any paragraph spaces or line breaks. Just thought I’d remind others to add spaces for easier reading. In any case, in this story, there was information about the children of Nathaniel Charles. I did not find ‘my’ Charles among them. At the end of the page was a link to further information.

On David S Payne’s Genealogy page at RootsWeb, he identifies the children of Nathaniel Charles and Nancy Gordon. He provides some source information. He also lists when and where the children were born. The family was in North Carolina by 1794. Could they have gone to Pennsylvania in 1801? It’s possible. But not probable. Additionally, I kept finding no documented (or attempted document) that links Charles Gordon (1801, Pennsylvania) to Nathaniel Charles.

Now that I’m sure I have the wrong relative linked in Roots Magic, It’s time to take them out.

I think I’m safe to say that my 2nd great grandfather is not the son of Nathaniel Charles and Nancy Gordon. So, it’s back to the drawing board. And that’s okay. Now to amend my records.

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

4 thoughts on “Surname Saturday: Nathaniel Charles Gordon is not Charles’ Father

  1. Good for you to blog about this. I have a brick wall in my tree where I'm pretty sure I have the wrong father for one of my 3rd great grandmothers. The source? An 1862 published genealogy! (At least I noted the source…) One of these days I need to dig a little deeper into that family and prune that father off of my tree (and blog about it).

  2. Hi Devon, great entry. I too realized that I had followed a wrong line– it had dawned on me that my 4th great-grandmother was born two years after her supposed father died! Definitely a red flag, ha. So I had to go back and re-trace the lines with the correct parents (who had the same first names). Will write about that one of these days.

    I've never heard of Roots Magic, I don't think. Do you like it?

  3. Karen,

    I think it pays to review our trees often to look for red flags. Married couples having the same names and then naming their children with similar names definitely makes things complicated. It reminds me of the story someone blogged about. She was at a government office when someone came in to register their son's birthday. She let out an involuntary outburst when she heard the common name. Though she was embarrassed, the new mother knew exactly what that was about and changed the child's name. Then the new mother thanked the woman for reminding her to make her son easy for future generations to find. I wish I could link to that post. It was awesome. I just can't remember who wrote it.

    RootsMagic. I really do enjoy it. I love the easy sync function with new Family Search. I love how user friendly it is and I've used a number of features. I switched to this from Personal Ancestral File (PAF). I haven't tried any other software, so I can't compare RootsMagic to those. But I really do like this program hands down over PAF. Hope that helps.

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