Charles C. Chaney's Dameron-Dameron Family Association site

Myths - Mistakes - Mix-ups - Misunderstandings

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Some assumptions have come to be accepted as fact.   Sometimes errors appear and become ingrained in various published genealogical records.  An initial error, misinterpretation or incorrect assumption is repeated and, perhaps, accepted as truth.  Dna testing of

A brief example is the origin of Lawrence Dameron, the forefather of most Damerons and Damrons in the United States of America.  It has become generally accepted that he came from Suffolk County, England.  The names match, the time seems right, but there is apparently nothing to prove otherwise -- that's not enough for a flat statement of fact.  He may well have been born and raised there, but, so far, concrete evidence has been elusive.

Many relationships have been recorded but are based almost exclusively on assumption.  Some of these should be mentioned and discussed.  There is always the possibility that some researcher has uncovered that missing piece of information that provides needed proof.

Myth versus Merit, or Captain John and the Alsatian Mercenary

An Editorial by John P. Dameron which appeared in the Dameron-Damron Family Newsletter, volume 46

The first Dameron documented in America was Captain John Dameron who came to the Jamestown Colony in May of 1620, aboard the “DUTY” (The History of Education in Virginia During the Seventeeth Century, by Edward Duffield Neill, 1867, Government Printing Office), and was unloading 50 boys from Bridewell Prison in London in Jamestown who were to serve as indentured servants to the colonists and were paid for by tobacco.  (The First Republic In America, A History of Virginia and the Virginia Company of London, 1898, by Alexander Brown, Houghton,Virginia.)  John Dameron returned to England the next year and took the Tobacco to be sold where it only brought half the expense of the boys.  (Abstracts of the Proceedings of the Virginia Company of London, 1833. T.W. White, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, VA.)

This is based on two secondary nineteenth century sources and an abstract of one primary Seventeenth Century source done years later.  This was done by people who were not family genealogists and had no reason, other than historical, to use the name John Dameron.  It would be safe, I think, to infer from these and other sources previously mentioned in earlier volumes of the newsletter, that Captain John Dameron made at least one trip to Jamestown, although the details are in dispute.  There are no primary or secondary sources that mention any family for this person:  neither parents, siblings, wife, nor children.  So, any material by any Damerons or Damrons attempting to connect him with Lawrence the Immigrant are pure conjecture.

 A record of a Bridgett Dameron, who before 1624 was dead in Elizabeth City, Virginia, is given in “Hotten’s Persons of Quality”.  This has caused imaginations to run wild.

 What if she was wife of Captain John Dameron and mother of Lawrence?  What if not?

 Based on pure imagination, this theory, or “leap of faith,” as it were, is found on many internet pedigrees.

 What we actually know about Lawrence Dameron is that he was in Virginia on or before 1652 when the earliest dated land grant mentioning his name was filed.  He could have been in Virginia prior to this.  We do know that he did import himself and his family to America from the headright records in “Cavaliers and Pioneers” and other records.  All evidence points to the fact that this family came from England, although there is no direct proof that he was the same Lawrence christened in May, 1615, in St. Clements, Ipswich, son of George.  But, at least, this George had a son named Lawrence whose age fits the age of the immigrant who named a son George.

 Even scholarly genealogists and those with professional training under the auspices of national genealogy societies disagree as to what should or should not be accepted as proof.  Perhaps if there were a stated rule or axiom as to what constitutes proof, beginning and even more educated family genealogists would not post some of the erroneous and undocumented material as part of their official pedigrees online.

 First of all, everything we find written is not true.  We have even found glaring errors in material published in the nineteenth century.  Much of this material is undocumented and could just as easily be hearsay or product of an active imagination as it could be fact.

It is always better to check and see if there are any primary or contemporary records that support the material.  Undocumented does not necessarily mean false and documented does not necessarily mean true.  Census records are only as accurate as the census taker or the person supplying the information.  Family Bible records are sometimes recorded from memory, after the fact, or have been altered to support an erroneous birth year for employment, marriage, pensions etc.  Wills sometimes omit names of heirs, by intent, mistake or in cases where children pre-decease their parents.  Some wills just say “the children of my first wife” without name or number.  Such a will has caused endless conjecture as to one fa mily in my line.  The point that I am trying to make is that errors and theories are often copied by others as fact, and, by repeated use, come to be accepted by many as proof or common knowledge.

 Recently, while reading some material about Damerons who lived in Alsace, France, I came across a statement that the Alsatian Damerons were descended from an English mercenary soldier who fought in the Thirty Years War and decided to stay.

 Going back to my history books, I found that the Thirty Years War took place in the 1600’s, after the time Captain John Dameron came to Jamestown.  I have attempted to query and research this Alsatian mercenary but can find no documentation whatsoever.

 But since Alsace was often disputed between France and Germany (this Dameron apparently intermarried with a German woman, an innkeeper’s daughter), the German and French Damerons as well as the American ones could be all descended from one man.

 Captain John Dameron.  Let’s see where this turns up next!  Or, possibly, George went to Alsace after Lawrence was born and his mercenary salary was inherited by Lawrence who used it to come to America.  Or John and George could have been brothers and yet a third brother went to Alsace.  All of these brothers could have named a son” Lawrence.”  This third brother could have had another son who became a French Huguenot and came to Hanover County with his son Joseph.

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The Dameron-Damron Mythology -- Errors on the Internet

An Editorial by John P. Dameron which appeared in the Dameron-Damron Family Newsletter, volume 31
(this article has been slightly edited to reflect its presence here rather than in the newsletter)

Within the last few years, the Internet has become a valuable tool in the study of genealogy. Whether just surfing the web, looking for information or individuals with the surname, using Rootsweb, one of the US Gen Forum's surname or location pages, simply checking records and data that are available online, or just e-mailing relatives and sharing information, the Net can be used in a number of ways to search a family tree.

Just recently I found a connection on the Internet that may help me place the family of Simeon Dameron, a "lost" son of Joseph Dameron, Sr. w.1818. But just a few moments later, checking another record, I found, alive and well a blatant error that DDFA researchers had put to rest years ago. In fact, just about every error in the study of our family history has been reincarnated on the Internet. Some appear very convincing. One even gives the date, place and name of a ship on which a Dameron allegedly came to America. Another cites the DAR as source or the L.D.S. Library.  Some misinformation might fool an unwary researcher. Most of the material, however, is based on conjecture and lacks documentation.

In my own research, I use a system I call the 3-P System: Proven, Probable, or Possible.
            P-1,  Proven -  The relationship is supported by known facts or documented primary sources.
            P-2,  Probable - The relationship is supported by strong circumstantial evidence and/or secondary documentation.
            P-3,  Possible - a relationship for which there is no real proof but does not contradict known facts.

In my system, a P-3 can be upgraded to a P-2, or P-1, or sometimes be thrown out.  A P-2 is sometimes upgraded to a P-1, sometimes downgraded or dismissed when new information surfaces.  I am reluctant to accept a family link without primary documentation, because sometimes I have reached breakthroughs by not accepting what has always been take for granted but not documented. After surfing the net for Dameron information I have added a new category:  P-4, POSITIVELY NOT. Just looking at some GEDCOMs, web pages, etc. I find material that some of us have been discounting for over 20 years along with some relatively new errors based on flawed research.

Some of My P-4's are:  I found that John C. Dameron came to America from Scotland several years AFTER he married Betsy Boyd in Halifax County, Virginia. Living nearby at around the same time was Joseph Dameron, the Huguenot and American Revolutionary War Veteran who fathered a son, George Ball Dameron, at age seven. This Joseph was married to Mary Ball, while his father, Joseph, his uncle Samuel, and his grandfather, Christopher Dameron, were all married to Sarah Ball (a remarkable woman!, related to the father of our country and mother of many Damerons). (see below)

 Lawrence Dameron, the immigrant, was son of Capt. John Dameron of the Jamestown Colony: although he died before 1660, he was also an American Revolutionary War Veteran, as was his son George, who settled in Lincoln Co., NC, a century after his own death and fathered a new group of children after his death. This corpse was also the father of the same John C. Dameron who migrated from Scotland after his marriage.  These errors are just in the branch of the family that I am fairly familiar with.  I imagine that there are errors equally ridiculous in every branch of the Dameron and Damron Mythology on the Web. If you are descended from a Cherokee princess, you will need more than a "How!" or  "Great -Grandma said so," to convince me. Remember, Chief Sequoyah's Anglo surname was "Gist" or "Guess.”  There has been too much Guesswork in our family history already.

Much of the early material in the Snow book may or may not be true but lacks documentation.  Is your information a "Snow" job or is it documented by fact?  Beware of transcripts or secondary sources. A transcriber can easily turn a "Cameron" into a "Dameron". In one case "Sam. George and Bar. Dameron" instead of being "Samuel George and Bartholomew Dameron" became "Samuel, George, and Bartholomew Dameron" and, lo, a new son was born and several P-3 and P-4 Damerons were assigned as his children!

Errors often repeated have a way of pyramiding and sometimes become accepted as truth. Research is required in Northumberland County to find documentation for much of the early Dameron material we have taken at face value without proof. Did Bartholomew Dameron really marry Elizabeth Garlington? Who are the children of Thomas Dameron, son of Lawrence the immigrant?

There are many questions that need to be asked. Which is the true history of our family? How much of this is just part of the Dameron-Damron Mythology?

John P. Dameron is one of the founders of the Dameron-Damron Family Association.

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John Dameron, Born in Scotland in 1798?

Kathy Near, DAMERON-DAMRON FAMILY NEWSLETTER, volume 31, Fall 1999-2000, p1044.

I first saw the record on the Internet, listed as the source record for the names of the parents of John Dameron who married Elizabeth Boyd and died in Lincoln Co. NC.  The database of Scottish Church Records, available at LDS Family History Centers, shows that John Dameron, son of Daniel Dameron and Catharine Stuart, was christened on 18 Dec. 1798 at Ardersier, Inverness, Scotland.  Though the date was too late to be for the John who married Elizabeth Boyd in 1795 (and was already himself a father by 1798), it did seem to indicate that there were Damerons in Scotland prior to 1800.

 Also noted in the record was the Family History Library microfilm number for the original church records.  Because it was so surprising to find just one Dameron record in this database of Scottish church records that reportedly included more than 40% of the vital records for the period covered, I wanted to see the actual record on microfilm. 

The record pictured above is from FHL microfilm #0990663 (item 1), parish registers for the Church of Scotland, Parish Church of Ardersier, 1719-1854.  The record lists two baptisms on 18 Dec. 1798.  The second is for John, “lawful son to Daniel Cameron & Catharine Stuart his spouse.”  Somehow the John Cameron of this christening record ended up listed as John Dameron in the computerized database of Scottish Church Records.  The actual name on the record was Cameron, not Dameron.

Secondary sources such as books and databases are extremely useful tools, but a careful researcher should verify essential data in the actual records whenever possible.

Because so many family history researchers collect information about extended families, it is not always possible or reasonable to examine the originals of all records used in our research, but we do need to make every effort to check the documents that indicate or prove our own lines of ancestry.  If we don’t, we run the risk of being misled by someone’s typo or error in reading the original record. 

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Errors that often pop up?

Some material has been published, either in print or on the Internet, that is in error or is, at least, questionable.  Family tradition often contains the truth but, perhaps, can be a bit or considerably askew.  This is an attempt to identify some that contain erroneous or mistaken information.  Some examples of the kind of things follow:

logo What about the idea that the Damerons were Huguenot?  This can be traced back to a situation in which a maternal line was Huguenot but somehow was "switched" to the paternal in family tradition.

logo Was there a Scottish Dameron ancestor?  Probably not.  However, one has been claimed and the source cited.  If the original (or photocopied) source document is examined, it becomes immediately clear that the name is Cameron rather than Dameron.  [See above.]

logo Anna Ladd Damron, daughter of Capt. John Damron and Anna Ladd, was described in a history of the Fisher and Clark families of Texas.  Two works published by one author state that she was "Anna Ladd, resident of Virginia but a native of Holland."   The exact origin of this must lie in the family tradition of the Fisher family.  However, Damron genealogy disproves this.  

logo Then there is the tale of the three Dameron/Damron brothers that arrived from England at some point.  This relates to the common story told by various family groups of various surnames. For some reason, it seems to almost always involve three brothers.

logo What about the idea that the Damerons were Huguenot?  This can be traced back to a situation in which a maternal line was Huguenot but somehow was "switched" to the paternal in family tradition.

logo Does the ancestry of Aggy Owl, the wife of Moses Damron, fall into this category?  More than a few researchers insist that she is Native American.  Some offer proof.  The only reported source found for the name Owl was in a letter written by an unidentified grandson to a newspaper that stated her name as Aggy Owl.  DNA testing of descendants has not support the claim of Native American lineage.

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Updated 10 July 2015

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