01 March 2014

Bennie England Craft (52 Ancestors)

     I'm participating in the 52 Ancestors Challenge in Ahnentafel order, and week eight is about one of my paternal great-grandfathers.

     Bennie "B. E." Craft was born 6 Feb 1896 in Hartwell, Georgia.  He was the son of George Craft and Effie Powell, a farming family.  Given B. E.'s age, I thought that there was a chance that he fought in World War I.  WWI Draft Cards are one of my go-to records for finding information on my ancestors, but I was confused when I couldn't find one for B. E.  I was using the record collection on Ancestry.com, and I don't know how many times I searched or browsed that database.  He was the right age - why was there no draft card?  Could there be a problem with this database?

     After a while, I found out (through a fellow researcher), that one of B. E.'s brothers had fought in WWI - but he didn't have a draft card either.  Of course, he could have signed up before being drafted, but I saw this as an indication that there could be a problem with the database.  I made and broke plans a few times to visit the National Archive's Atlanta branch to view the "original" microfilm.  Before I got around to that, however, FamilySearch, put up the same WWI draft cards.

     Only, they weren't quite the same.  This collection included B. E.'s card!

     So, this experience reminds me of a few things: Don't assume that one version of a record collection (especially a copy-of-a-copy) is 100% correct; follow up with plans to seek alternative access to record collections.

     In the end, B. E.'s draft card doesn't really give me any new information, but it's another piece of the puzzle, another document about my ancestor.  And I want them all.

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