[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Birth Dates -- record from old church book or U.S. government documents?

Peter chamdo4ever at gmail.com
Thu Apr 9 06:38:24 PDT 2015

Greetings List,

My cousin and I are having a friendly little debate.

I have the birth record of an ancestor of mine from the Plock church
books in the 1870's. I am 100% confident that this is my ancestor.

I realize that in Plock at that time, they were coping with both the
Julian calendar and the Gregorian/Western calendar. My ancestors birth
record lists two dates and I have always used the second, western

Said ancestor then emigrated to the United States. On all the official
U.S. records (Census, draft registration, naturalization, etc.) the
birth date is something other than what the Plock church book list it.

The year is occasionally the same, occasionally one or two years
later. The actual day is never the same between the Plock record
(Julian or otherwise) and the U.S. records. The only thing that is
consistent throughout is the birth month (when it is given).

When listing this ancestor in tree, chart, or database my firm
instinct is to go with what I firmly believe his actual birth date to
be as the primary birth date: the western date in the Plock church
book. That being the first official record of my ancestor after his
birth, it is unconscionable for me to consider otherwise.

My cousin on the other hand, uses the Plock church book as one of the
"alternate" birth dates and tends to pick one of the varying dates
listed on the U.S. government documents as the primary birth date,
pointing out that said ancestor himself appears to never have used the
Plock birth date. He also chooses to rely on what the U.S. government
believes the birth date to be, and hence trusts the U.S. government
over the Plock church book. I flatly refuse to do that.

So, list readers, I'm not asking you to settle this friendly debate
between me and my cousin as I don't think it can be settled -- I will
always use what I believe to be the most accurate birth date which is
what is listed in the Plock church book. I think that to do otherwise,
defies the true facts of history.

But I am curious as to what other list readers do in situations like
this where the birth date in old church books varies from what an
individual used in official documents during their lifetime after

Finally, to be fair to my cousin, in this case my ancestor is not his
ancestor. My cousin did concede to change this specific birth date on
his public tree to list the Plock church book date as the primary
birth date for my ancestor rather than what the U.S. government used.
I very much appreciate that.

Thank you,

Peter Schmidt

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