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Wabanaki Genealogy Tip
Fake & Unproven Family Trees

Updated April 15, 2010

SPECIAL NOTICE TO ALL Concerning the use of this article

The content this page is the copyrighted property of Ne-Do-Ba as of March 26, 2010, the date of its creation. No individual, nonprofit organization, or commercial business may use any part of this article for any reason whatsoever in any media or format. If you find this article informative and would like to share it with others, you may do so only by providing a link to this page. We are providing a number on internal links that allow you to link directly to specific sections (use the navigation menu at the top of the article to determine where internal links exist). Under no circumstances will ANYONE other than Ne-Do-Ba be authorized to use this article in part or in its entirety EVER. If anyone finds this material being used by others, please take a minute to drop us a note with a link to the page it is found on - Thank you.

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Introduction

Your family has always claimed you are part Indian and you found this great family tree online that proves it - or so you think. Fake and completely unproven trees are being uploaded everyday and the unsuspecting novice all too often buys into the deception.

In this Genealogy Tip, Ne-Do-Ba will be addressing the issue of fake, fraud, hoax, and unproven genealogies. Their apparence on the internet and in published form is growing rapidly. Ne-Do-Ba feels it is important for family researchers to understand they exist and to have the tools needed to spot them. We will present you with a tree we believe is completely fabricated and then take you through the process of validating (or invalidating!) a second tree. A third tree will help us learn an additional technique. We hope this article will help you understand the difference between an accurately researched family tree and one that is unproven or fake. In the process, we hope to infuse our readers with some sound research skills.

The first tree we will examine is what we call the "Big Thunder" tree. It appeared on Ancestry.com a while back and has been copied by a large number of people since first appearing. This tree uses a few scattered real people and a number of completely fake people to present an absurd family tree. As you will see, this is not a tree anyone should be proud of or want to copy - unfortunately it's use keeps growing by the day.

The second tree we will be looking at is the "Nancy Snow" tree recently posted at The Reinvention of the Alleged Vermont and New Hampshire Abenaki  OFF-SITE LINK  blog. It looks very convincing on the surface but is highly speculative at best and completely unproven. As this article unfolds, you will see the historical documentation does not support the family story presented in those documents. Through the use of commonly available historical documentation, we will show you how to take this tree apart piece by piece. It is our opinion that someone has "doctored" this family's story in order to weave the lives of completely unrelated people together making them appear to be family. This type of deception is just as bad, if not worse, than the faked tree mentioned above since it is much harder to spot.

We are adding another posted genealogy from The Reinvention of the Alleged Vermont and New Hampshire Abenaki  OFF-SITE LINK  blog. It is another that claims to link to the Otondosonne family of Odanak. This is a very nice one for demonstrating another type of deception analysis. We refer to this analysis method as the "do the Math" technique.

Striving For Accuracy

Before Internet genealogy came along in the late 1990s, genealogists were forced to travel to distant research libraries, historical societies, court houses, and town offices then spend hours or days reviewing poor quality unindexed microfilm to find family information. Only serious people got involved with the process. Today we can do a great deal of this work online. This encourages more people to get involved in genealogy, but too many of them are expecting instant family history. Genealogy research still requires us to do a certain amount of research the old fashion way and this is were many folks stumble and give up after a very short time. Some resort to making things up for the sake of creating a pretty chart to hang on the wall.

Anyone can create a family tree. It does not require a computer or any real research, just pencil, paper, a creative mind, and viola - instant ancestors! You can fill a family pedigree chart with the ancestors you want to be related to in just a few minutes time. However, saying they are your ancestors does not make it true. They are only deceiving themselves and their own descendants who will of course believe what grandma's pretty chart says. The mentality here just baffles us - why would anyone want an inaccurate family tree?

Serious genealogists (both amateur and professional) strive to create an accurate family tree and therefore refuse to jump to conclusions concerning possible ancestors until they have found conclusive evidence to support their speculations and theories. They have learned, all too often early theories turn out to be false after proper research. When it comes time to publish their genealogical information, submit it to their client, or submit it to an organization for membership, it contains all the known FACTS and provides properly cited sources that allow others to verify the FACTS are accurate by checking the sources themselves.

Sooner or later all genealogists come to dead ends or what we call "brick walls" - an ancestor for which we can not identify parents. It is an unfortunate fact of life that many of these brick walls will never submit to the wrecking ball - they will forever remain a question mark on the pedigree chart despite our best efforts. Should we ever give up trying - probably not - but at some point you will have to accept there are no known records to fill in the gap - it's best to get over it and move on to the next brick wall.

Sometimes in the process of research a genealogist will find a variety of data pointing to a certain conclusion or supporting a particular theory but they still lack a document to actually validate the point. What to do now? The best way to deal with this is to write a paper or article that states the theory, outlines all the known facts, outlines all the reasonable possibilities, disproves all the reasonable possibilities except the theory being worked on, outlines exactly how we came to our conclusion, and provides all the sources used to compile our data so another person can verify the facts are accurate. Sometimes the very process of doing this work will present new theories or show flaws in the current theory, so it is a very valuable process even if it is never published. Once published, if we have done a good job, other genealogists will accept our theory. Sometimes other genealogists will know of a document that proves or disproves the theory or they will come to a different conclusion based on the same data. This is a good thing - remember, we want our family tree to be accurate - don't we!

Big Thunder

Ne-Do-Ba will now present one of those obviously faked genealogies posted online and provide a few reasons to show how we know it is fake. Please review the following family group document "Big Thunder" PDF LINK . If you have an Ancestry.com subscription you can see how many trees currently contain this family by searching for "Tasinasapawin" in the Ancestry family trees database.

It all looks very nice - all these "Indian" names and dates etc. - all very convincing you might think. NOT - take a close look at the names - sound them out slowly and listen to yourself as you sound them out! Ta ink peota his end & tasin as e pawin - sound like a social comments to us! Look at the dates of birth and death for some of these people - do the math - 1610 to 1846 is 236 years - ever met anyone that old? And siblings born 1635, 1740, & 1831 - wow, what a stud the old man must have been in the 3rd century of his life!!! Do you think this is something you might be proud of in your family tree! Based on the number of times it has been copied by others, my guess is there are a lot of people out there not interested in accurate family history, only in how nice the tree will look with this guy in it and how they can point to it and show everyone they are real "Indians".

[The next two paragraphs and the list have been added as of Feb-2013 and one original paragraph removed. This change is to clarify the point being made since it has been publicly misinterpreted. Folks are claiming we stated Sarah Little Fawn is a real person. We did no such thing, but in rereading the paragraph I can understand how it could be interpreted as such if you did not read the whole paragraph.]

Before moving on to the the next family tree, we must point out that some elements of this "Big Thunder" tree are real. For example, research confirms the following names are real people:

  • Big Thunder (1600s) - Delaware tribe (not found in Maine!).
  • Big Thunder (c1822-1906) - Penobscot tribe of Maine, stage name used by Frank Loring.
  • Miniyuhe (and husband, Joseph Renville or Rainville) - she and her family lived in Minnesota, her marriage and descendants are documented, but the identity of her parents are unknown.
  • Dodipher Richards (1745-1825) - lived in New Hampshire and Maine.

Believe it or not, Dodipher is a real person! Initially we thought this was another social statement - "Do dip her" - but a quick search in census records shows it is a real name and it was passed on to progeny!

Whomever originally posted this family tree took a little effort to make it seem real but faked the bulk of it. We have to wonder if this is "Indian humor" - created by a Native American to see just how many foolish white folks would buy into it and how far it would get spread around the internet. So far, Ne-Do-Ba has only found "Big Thunder" trees at Ancestry.com, but its use there certainly has increased greatly over the past year.

Most fake trees are not nearly as obvious as this one - don't be fooled - research, research, research to learn the truth.

Proving A Family Tree

Ne-Do-Ba will now present it's own research into the ancestry of Nancy Snow, wife of Norris Batchelder of Sandwich, Carroll Co., New Hampshire and Stanstead, Quebec, who is said to have been raised by her Abenaki grandmother, Marie-Alaine (or Marie-Helen) Otondosonne at Odanak. One document claims she is a descendant (through this Abenaki grandmother) of "Joseph Compient", a signer of the "Robertson Lease" of Missisquoi lands 1769.

We chose this specific tree because it is one of the few genealogies posted on the blog Reinvention of the Alleged Vermont and New Hampshire Abenaki  OFF-SITE LINK  that actually shows a link to a historically documented Abenaki person.

Our intent here is not to provide a "certified" genealogy or to pass judgment on the heritage of any living human, but only to demonstrate the process of proper research and to show this particular family tree is not supported by historical documentation. This family may still have Native heritage, it's just not found where these family documents say it is.

Before going on, we need to make it clear that we are limited to what can be found on the internet and in our own library - which is not the way you should be researching your own families!! I am constrained by time, disability, and finances. I do not have the ability to get out and dig elsewhere. The following research was done using Ne-Do-Ba's full subscriptions at Ancestry, World Vital Records, Footnote, Maine Historical Society, and New England Historical & Genealogical Society. We also made use of free resources such as FamilySearch, Genweb, HeritageQuest, Google books, Find A Grave, Interment.net and numerous other useful internet resources. We also have a substantial library of Odanak Abenaki vital records and family contributed materials in our own research library.

The genealogy charts in question were found at the blog Reinvention of the Alleged Vermont and New Hampshire Abenaki  OFF-SITE LINK  and copied to the following .pdf files located on our website. The Ne-Do-Ba version of the documents have been annotated by us to help you find the information being discussed. You can view the documents in their original form by visiting the blog links in the second column.

Documents Being Examined
PDF DocumentBlog link
created March 2010
Pedigree Chart #11 blog link
MR Emma Batchelder 2nd Doc in part 1
Family Narrative 1st & 2nd doc top of part 2
Family Group A blog link
Family Group B blog link
Family Group C blog link
Descendants of blog link
1871 Tuscarora 1st Doc at top of part 1

Please understand - We are only commenting on the documents and data concerning the ancestry of Nancy Snow as they are presented on the blog. Our analysis of these documents should not be construed as a personal attack on any living person, since we have no way of knowing who actually created the "family story", when it occurred, or which descendants agree or disagree with the truth of the material.

We will review these documents along with information previously provided to Ne-Do-Ba by descendants. We provide strict confidentiality for all those who correspond with us, but the information they provide concerning people living in the 1700s and 1800s becomes part of our research database and is available for research purposes.

Correspondence From Descendants

We were first contacted by a descendant of Nancy Snow late in 1999. The only thing they shared at that time concerning Nancy Snow's ancestry was "... Nancy Jane Snow, a full blooded Penacook, married Arthur Norris Batchelder (we suspect he may be of Native blood also) ...".

We responded with some information we had on file concerning the surname Snow and asked for more details. We heard nothing more from the correspondent until 2005 when we received a message with a subject line "Marie Alaine Otondosonne".

"I like your site and enjoy many of the pictures. Also learned some things about family while reading. Thought you might be interested in some info I have from a family bible and other papers, etc. Marie Alaine had a daughter named Sarah. Sarah married a Six Nations Indian by the name Of Joseph Snow and she lived with him in Ontario. Sarah and Joseph had a daughter, Nancy Snow, who lived with her grandmother (Marie Alaine) until she was married and settled in Stanstead, Quebec. She (Nancy) appears on a census at the St. Regis Mohawk reserve in the late 1800s. ..."

Follow up correspondence that same year added the following details

"I do have some info (copy of notes in bible), wish I had more. Nancy Snow b. 183? (illegible) in Quebec to Joseph and Sarah Josephte Snow. Joseph Snow b. 1800/8 (hard to tell) in Ontario. Sarah Josephte b. 1808 (I think) in Quebec or Vermont to Joseph Louis and Marie Helen daughter of Swaseen and Molly who are mentioned in Derby, VT history book. It goes on to say, Jos. Snow was an Iroquois Indian from Brants and Sarah was a St. Francis Indian. Jos and Sarah returned to Brants while young Nancy stayed in care of Marie Helen in Que until she married ..."

The information we were given in 1999, that Nancy Snow was a full blooded Penecook Indian, has absolutely no basis. The Penecook ceased to exist as a sperate tribal entity in the 1700s when they merged and intermarried with other groups of the region. She could be a Penecook descendant, but she could not be "full blooded" Penecook as the family claims due to at least 100 years of intermarriage with other Native groups. However, this is a common type of error made by those who don't take the time to learn history when they start researching their family. They learned the Penecook originally inhabited New Hampshire and believed Nancy was from New Hampshire and was an "Indian", therefore they jumped to the conclusion she was a full blooded Penecook.

Nancy Snow & Norris Batchelder

SPECIAL NOTICE TO ALL Concerning the use of this article

The content this page is the copyrighted property of Ne-Do-Ba as of March 26, 2010, the date of its creation. No individual, nonprofit organization, or commercial business may use any part of this article for any reason whatsoever in any media or format. If you find this article informative and would like to share it with others, you may do so only by providing a link to this page. We are providing a number on internal links that allow you to link directly to specific sections (use the navigation menu at the top of the article to determine where internal links exist). Under no circumstances will ANYONE other than Ne-Do-Ba be authorized to use this article in part or in its entirety EVER. If anyone finds this material being used by others, please take a minute to drop us a note with a link to the page it is found on - Thank you.

The first document Ancestor Chart No. 11 PDF LINK  we want to review with you is dated 1978 and has the compiler's name clearly stated on it, but it does not give any sources for the information it contains. Looking over the other charts created by this same person suggests she was a reasonably good researcher for the time period (before internet!).

Much of the information on this chart can be verified by viewing the 1850 PDF LINK  and 1860 PDF LINK  Census for Sandwich, New Hampshire. We were not able to verify the maiden name of Nancy or the marriage date and location. The compiler of the chart appears to have located the marriage record or had access to family papers that gave the date and location of the marriage and more importantly the maiden name of Nancy. The marriage record for Nancy's daughter PDF LINK , Elizabeth Emma, does verify the maiden name of SNOW for Nancy, wife of Norris Batchelder.

The important things to note about this pedigree chart are;

  • only approximate birth dates are given for Nancy & Norris
  • New Hampshire is the location of birth given for both Nancy & Norris
  • both Nancy & Norris have specific death dates and locations
  • no parents are named for either Nancy or Norris - suggesting this information is not found in the marriage record or in family documents known to the researcher in 1978
  • no mention whatsoever of Native or Abenaki or Penecook ancestry

In 1978 when this chart was created by a descendent of Nancy & Norris, this descendent appears unaware of or uninterested in the subject of Native Ancestry in this line of ascent.

With just a little effort we have been able to verify this couple did exist in historical records. We will start with this basic information and see what more we can learn about these two individuals.

Norris is not found in any additional census records. Ancestor Chart No. 11 PDF LINK  and Family Group Sheet A PDF LINK  show his death was on 8-Mar-1871 in Stanstead, Quebec. This death date has no source in any of these documents but a death before the summer of 1871 is supported by the 1871 census PDF LINK  for Stanstead where Nancy is found as a widow.

Norris' age in the 1850 and 1860 census suggests a birth year of 1831 or 1832 in New Hampshire. A birth year for Nancy suggested by these census would be 1832 or 1833 in New Hampshire. The fact they are a young married couple in the 1850 Census aged 19 and 17 with no children suggests the marriage took place in the not too distant past supporting the 1849 marriage date as reasonable.

The birth places of their younger children suggests they moved from Sandwich, NH to Stanstead, Quebec about 1865. The birth of a child in Quebec after they arrive suggests the family came here as a family unit and probably lived together until Norris' death in 1871.

Since Norris was of military age during the Civil War and did not move to Quebec until the end of the war, it is important to check for any Civil War service record and resulting pension records. Only one potential soldier, Arthur N. Batchelder, was found and he was ruled out due to residence in Massachusetts all his known life.

Widow, Nancy Batchelder, is found in the 1871 census PDF LINK  and 1881 census PDF LINK  at Stanstead with her children. We can be certain the widow in Stanstead is the same person as the wife in Sandwich by comparing the children in the two households (1860 census PDF LINK  & 1871 census PDF LINK ), their ages, and places of birth. Ancestor Chart No. 11 PDF LINK  and Family Group Sheet A PDF LINK  state Nancy's death was 6-Feb-1882 at North Stanstead, Quebec which seems reasonable, since we did not find her anywhere in the 1891 or later census. Both the 1871 and 1881 census show Nancy and all but her youngest children born in the U.S..

The most striking information found in these census is;

  • their knowledge of their age and birth place is very consistant over the decades
  • none of these census identify either Nancy, Norris, or any of their children as "Indian" or anything other than English and white - suggesting the family is not living an "Indian" lifestyle.
  • there are no documented "Indians" living as neighbors in either Sandwich or Stanstead, suggesting they do not belong to an "Indian" community at either location while they are living there.

Family Group Sheet A PDF LINK  contains inconsistent data we would like to point out. Both Norris and Nancy still have death dates in Stanstead but their birth places are no longer New Hampshire! This begs the question, "what new historical documentation has been located to change his birth place to Maine and hers to unknown?" The date of death for Nancy has been modified to reflect an additional decade [was 1882 and now is 1892] of life for her, but the day and month are the same as found in the pedigree chart of 1978 PDF LINK .

The St. Regis Connection

The 2005 Correspondence and Family Narrative PDF LINK  mention Nancy being found at St. Regis in "1880s" and "late 1800s". No documentation is provided to verify this and the year is stated in a rather vague manner.

We did find evidence of a "Nancy Snow" with a total of 4 family members at the St. Regis Mohawk Indian Reservation in the year 1887. This is not a true census, but simply a list of heads of households. It does not provide any information we can use to determine who this woman might be, how old she was, where she was born, if she was single or a widow, the names of the other members of the household, etc.. We have no way of knowing if this really could be Nancy (Snow) Batchelder. However --- this list is dated 1887 and we have shown the family's own compiled genealogy places Nancy's death in 1882 at Stanstead. Perhaps Nancy's death date on Family Group Sheet A PDF LINK  was changed from 1882 to 1892 to support her appearance at St. Regis in 1887!

We did find continued evidence of a "Nancy Snow" at St. Regis in the 1900 Census PDF LINK . She is a widow, Indian, and born Jan-1850 in Canada to parents who were both born in Canada. She immigrated to New York in 1855, and is the mother of 3 children of which only 1 is still living in 1900. Her son, Charles Snow (b. Oct-1866 in NY & his father born in Canada), is living with her along with 2 grandchildren surnamed Gray. The bottom portion of this "Indian" Schedule shows Nancy Snow and both of her parents are listed as being "Iroquois". Note that Snow is most likely the married name of this woman, not her maiden name, she was born in 1850, and has a son named Charles b. 1866, and her other 3 children have died. The woman at St. Regis can not possibly be the woman who married Norris Batchelder about 1849 in New Hampshire. Any reasonable person would agree she is very likely the same woman found in the 1887 St. Regis list!

The historical documentation we have located clearly disproves the claim that Nancy (Snow) Batchelder was the woman called "Nancy Snow" in St. Regis records of "1880s" and "late 1800s".

Finding Parents

According to the "family bible and other papers", Norris Batchelder was an Indian from Maine and Nancy J. Snow was the daughter of an Indian from "Brants Ontario" - yet Janice B. Willard shows nothing of the sort on her Ancestor Chart No. 11 PDF LINK . Completely absent are any notes about Indians or questions/concerns about birth places that conflict. Her other charts show a reasonable research attempt and she has come up with specific dates that are not found anywhere online (chart is dated 1978 - before internet!), so they must have come from a family bible or her own research in Carroll Co. NH and Stanstead Quebec. Despite tracking down these dates or locating them in family papers, she was unable to determine the parents of either Nancy Snow or Norris Batchelder.

The Family Narrative PDF LINK  and Family Group Sheet A PDF LINK  both name the parents of Nancy Snow as Joseph Snow and Sarah Joseph (or Josephte) Louis. These parents are also named in the correspondence with Ne-Do-Ba in 2005. Where did the information about the identity of her parents come from? Not one of these documents even hints at the source of this information except the vague mention of a "family bible and other papers" and "copy of notes in bible". If this material really exists, copies should be included with the family genealogy so that others can see exactly what information they contain.

A review of all common resources online did not turn up any information about the parentage of either Nancy or Norris. So, where do we go from here? Since Nancy & Norris were married by 1850 (the first census year all members of a household are listed) census records will not directly help us, but can still be useful. We looked to see if there are any Snow or Batchelder families living near to the young couple that could be siblings or parents.

There is a Joseph Snow and family at Eaton, Carroll Co., NH (a couple towns east of Sandwich) that looks promising. His wife is Sally. This matches up well with the family story giving Nancy's parents as Joseph and Sarah - Sally and Sarah are interchangeable names. This couple is in the right age bracket to be her parents. We located a published genealogy for this Snow family which does not list a daughter named Nancy, but does leave room for her to fit in the family. More research is required before we can rule out this couple as the parents of Nancy Snow.

Living in the same neighborhood in Eaton with Joseph Snow is the family of Thomas Batchelder. Thomas is the appropriate age to be an older brother or cousin of Norris, but too young to be his father. We also looked at Stanstead to see if there were any obvious reason (such as relatives) the family moved from Sandwich to Stanstead. The surname Batchelder is common in Stanstead County before the couple arrived. It is possible Norris & Nancy moved to Stanstead because he had relatives there who could assist them in reestablishing their household.

At Moultonborough in 1850 (where Nancy & Norris were married the year before and located just south of Sandwich) is Stephen Snow and wife Betsey aged 54 and 53 living with son, James age 28. This family is certainly worth exploring further.

With a little more effort, we could probably find other good candidates for the parents of Nancy, but two are sufficient to demonstrate more work is needed before we accept an Iroquois man in Ontario as Nancy's father.

The Family Story

Now let's take a look at the Family Narrative PDF LINK . This document is hand written with no date and no author listed on the paper. There is very little about the narrative that can be validated and the historical documents we found suggest the information is incorrect.

  • Nancy is now born in Quebec, her marriage date is now in question, and her death date is also fuzzy. What did the family find to disprove the original marriage and death dates?
  • We found nothing to suggest Norris & Nancy were in Canada before they were married, but their marriage record might record their place of residence at the time of their marriage - proving or disproving the prior location of Canada.
  • We found nothing to suggest Nancy was "estranged" from Norris, but it is possible for the years between the youngest child's conception about 1866 and Norris' death in 1871. The mention of this "estrangement" appears to be an explanation as to why Nancy is found at St. Regis and presumably why she was using her maiden name. However the census at Stanstead clearly shows her using her married name and being WIDOWED in 1871 census PDF LINK  and 1881 census PDF LINK . In addition to that, the family's own compiled genealogy shows Norris' death in 1871 and hers in 1882 - before this speculative St. Regis connection occurred.
  • We disproved the idea that Nancy (Snow) Batchelder is the woman "Nancy Snow" at St. Regis.
  • We found nothing to suggest Norris Batchelder was "Indian", a logger, or from Maine. Census say he was white, born in New Hampshire, and a farmer.
  • We found nothing to suggest either Nancy or Norris were known to their neighbors as "Indian" or certainly they would have been recorded in census as something other than white or English.
  • We will address the "Otondosonne" connection in a sperate section little further on.

So far the information supposedly from the "family bible and other papers" and "copy of notes in bible" just does not match well with the historical FACTS.

Joseph & Sarah Snow

For the sake of moving on to the next generation, we will assume Nancy's parents are named in some historical document as Joseph & Sarah Snow. However, if this is your family you can not make this assumption, you must work to prove or disprove it with historical documentation!

The family claims Nancy's father was an Iroquois from Brants. There is indeed an Iroquois man named Joseph Snow at Tuscarora, Brant South, Ontario listed in the 1871 Census PDF LINK . This record shows he is an Onondaga Chief. This is collaborated by a photo which identifies Joseph Snow as an Onondaga chief seated with a number of other Iroquois chiefs about the same year as the census. His Iroquois name translates to "Drifted Snow" according to one website we visited. He is age 69 (b.abt.1802), a widower, and a farmer. Younger members of his household are using the same surname and are most likely his children and/or grandchildren. The entire family is identified as "Pagan" religion. Since they are obviously not members of a Christian church, it's not likely we would find any marriage or baptism records for him or his family - Christian church records are about the only other genealogical resource for "Indians" of this period.

We also found Sarah Snow age 65 (b.abt.1806) in 1871 Census PDF LINK  at Tuscarora. Additional information not contained in the computer printout  OFF-SITE LINK  is the fact her origins are listed as "Oneida" and she is a widow. We also see that 27 year old Margaret Twofish (b.abt. 1844) is a member of the household along with some younger children using different family names.

We again found Joseph Snow at Tuscarora in the 1861 census PDF LINK . He is age 60 (b.abt.1801), married with his spouse listed as "Jane Thomas" age 51 (b.abt.1810). Their religion is "none". They were born in UC, which most likely refers to Upper Canada/Ontario. This Joseph Snow certainly could have had an earlier wife but that is pure speculation until someone provides historical documentation to show otherwise.

In 1861 we also found Sarah Snow, born in UC, a widow age 56 (b.abt. 1805) with Margaret Snow (Margaret Twofish in 1871?), age 19 (b.abt. 1842), single. A published transcription we have in our research library contains the 1851 Tuscarora Census and shows Salley W. Snow, age 45 (b.abt.1806), born at Cayuga with Margaret age 10 (b.abt. 1841) born at Tuscarora - obviously the same mother/daughter found there in 1861 and 1871.

These historical documents do present us with an Iroquois man named Joseph Snow who had a wife named Jane Thomas. He was an Onondaga Chief living at the Tuscarora Reserve in Ontario in 1861 and 1871. It appears he did have children but we could not determine the exact makeup of his entire family based on the records available. He certainly could have had a child born in the 1830s and that child could have been raised at a different place - BUT this is pure speculation with no supporting evidence.

These historical documents also present us with an Iroquois woman named Sally/Sarah Snow who lived at Tuscarora Reserve in Ontario. She is living at the same time as Joseph Snow and both are identified as widows, so this woman is not the wife of Joseph. She could be his sister, sister-in-law or unrelated. If we go out on a limb and say this woman could be the mother of Nancy Snow, there is no historical documentation to suggest she was Abenaki. In fact the historical documentation over 3 decades tells us she was Iroquois. If the Snow descendants have historical documentation (such as a marriage record or baptism of a child) to prove these two people were married and had a child named Nancy it should be made available or at least properly identified so others can locate the record and follow up on the information.

In addition to the Iroquois man named Joseph Snow, we have already shown there was a Joseph & Sally Snow in New Hampshire in 1850 that might potentially be the parents of Nancy Snow.

Ne-Do-Ba concludes there is no historical material to suggest any connection between Nancy Snow of Sandwich, NH and Stanstead, Quebec and Iroquois People named Joseph Snow or Sarah Snow. With that in mind, there is no point in researching another generation back until this brick wall (identity of Nancy's parents) is destroyed - you can't go any further until you know who you are looking for!

The Abenaki Connection

SPECIAL NOTICE TO ALL Concerning the use of this article

The content this page is the copyrighted property of Ne-Do-Ba as of March 26, 2010, the date of its creation. No individual, nonprofit organization, or commercial business may use any part of this article for any reason whatsoever in any media or format. If you find this article informative and would like to share it with others, you may do so only by providing a link to this page. We are providing a number on internal links that allow you to link directly to specific sections (use the navigation menu at the top of the article to determine where internal links exist). Under no circumstances will ANYONE other than Ne-Do-Ba be authorized to use this article in part or in its entirety EVER. If anyone finds this material being used by others, please take a minute to drop us a note with a link to the page it is found on - Thank you.

Now, for the sake of this demonstration we will forget all about Joseph & Sarah Snow of Tuscarora and focus on a different aspect of the family story to see if we can get anywhere.

Both the Family Narrative PDF LINK  and the 2005 Correspondence PDF LINK  claim Nancy (Snow) Batchelder was the daughter of an Abenaki woman named Sarah Joseph (or Josephte) Louis. Sarah's mother is claimed to be Marie Alaine (or Helene) Otondosonne of Odanak. They go on to claim Nancy Snow was raised at Odanak (or Durham) by Marie Alaine Otondosonne until the time of her marriage (c1849).

Family Group Sheet B PDF LINK  & Family Group Sheet C PDF LINK  are not too certain about Sarah, calling her "Sarah Joseph (Louis/Thomas?)". The 2005 Correspondence and Family Narrative PDF LINK  both state Marie Alaine was married to Joseph Louis and the Narrative gives a marriage date of 1794. However, Family Group Sheet C PDF LINK  shows Marie-Helen with husband Joseph Thomas Pineau-Capino with a specific marriage date of 18-Jan-1813 at St. Francois du-lac, Quebec. Another item on this Family Group Sheet is the death of Marie Alaine in 1870 in New York State, but no other dates, including no date of birth or death for daughter Sarah. Looking closely at Family Group Sheet C PDF LINK  you might also notice Sarah's grandmother on her father's side is named "Marie Eulalie Gill" and her grandmother on her mother's side appears to be the same woman - suggesting her mother and father were 1/2 siblings?

The final document we need to review is titled Descendants of Joachim Pineau-Capino PDF LINK . Again we find nothing to identify the compiler, the date it was compiled, nor are any sources provided for the data. In this document the mother of Sarah Joseph Louis is given as MARY ANNE Otondosonne (bef 1798 - abt 1870 Odanak, PQ) and the father is Joseph Thomas Pineau-Capino. The daughter, Sarah (1831-1892 and locations of Odanak PQ/Akwesasne, NY), is called Sarah Joseph Louis - does not seem to be any question about her name in this document but her parents are different people.

The use in these documents of the family name "Pineau-Capino" seems to suggest the two names are different versions of the same name or perhaps are French "dit" names. The Capino family is very well documented both on and off the reserve in Canada and the US. We have never come across any Capino using the French surname "Pineau". There is some speculation the Capino family name is derived from an early "Captain Pinawans", but there is no evidence to suggest it was once the French surname "Pineau".

We don't have any dates for Sarah Joseph Louis so we will have to make a best guess. If Nancy was born abt 1832 and no later than 1833 and her mother was a child bride age 15 at the time of Nancy's birth than her birth year has to be no later than 1818. It is likely she was older than 15 and could have been as old as 45 or 50, so this places Sarah Joseph Louis' birth in the period between 1783 and 1818.

An analysis of her name is in order at this time. Her name suggests she is either Sarah-Josephte LOUIS - with Louis being the family name OR she is Sarah JOSPEH LOUIS - with "Joseph Louis" being the name of her father, which is a very common practice in this time period. In the second possibility, there is no family name suggested for either Sarah or Joseph Louis. LOUIS (also found as Lewis/Lewey) is a common family name among Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and Maliseet, but is not found as a family name among the Odanak population. "Joseph Louis" is a common baptismal name for Abenaki men of this time period - many for whom we can not establish family names. Family Group Sheet C PDF LINK  also presents the possible name Sarah Joseph Thomas which could be Sarah-Josephte THOMAS or Sarah JOSEPH THOMAS. "Joseph Thomas" is also a common Abenaki male name for the time period and THOMAS is a family name found at Odanak. All of these name variations would have to be completely researched before assigning possible parents to Sarah.

Before we even start looking at historical documents to see if they confirm any of this, the family data itself is posing some serious questions. The family claims the source of their information is "family bible and other papers" or "copy of notes in bible", but the grandmother has two different names (Marie Anne and Marie Alaine/Helene) and two different husbands (Joseph Louis and Joseph Thomas Capino). If the family really does have a family bible or papers with this information as they claim, why are they confused about her name and who she was married to?

Early Odanak Records

The St. Francois du-lac parish register exists and is available to Ancestry.com members. This is the parish serving the Abenaki community known historically as St. Francis and currently as Odanak. The register is also available on microfilm at LDS Family Research Centers and most likely through the Canadian National Archives.

The first thing you will notice about the register is it is written in French. The second thing you will notice is that most register entries for Native people use only their given names - i.e. Marie Jeanne Abenaki, Francois Louis Abenaki, etc.. Family names begin to be used frequently by mid 1800s in church registers and are used in the "tribal" census and other "tribal" lists prior to appearing in the church register. Family names are similar to what Euroamericans would call surnames, but they do not follow the same rules of use until much later in the 19th Century.

Another resource for the Odanak community is the protestant church register for the church begun by Pierre Paul Osunkhirhine in 1839. Thanks to generous and open mined Odanak descendants, Ne-Do-Ba has a photocopy of the entire original church register. Some members of the Otondosonne family did belong to this church and are found in it's register. In this register family names are used throughout, so there is no need to speculate as to which family is being referred to.

Most members of the community at Durham returned to Odanak for church affairs but there are a few scattered events at St. Frederic, Drummondville and a few scattered non-Catholic events recorded in Sherbrooke area records.

It takes a great deal of research, data collecting, data comparisons, sharing with others trying to do the same thing, and a certain amount of hunch and speculation to assign family names to the Native people in these old records. With the help of many other researchers, Ne-Do-Ba does have a pretty decent database of Odanak families - but in most cases there is still a certain degree of hunch and speculation involved and certainly much room for error in the early families.

The Otondosonne Family of Odanak

Ne-Do-Ba has done extensive research on the Otondosonne family of Odanak as part of our Louis Watso Case Study which is found on our website. We have also been in contact with descendants (they have no problem providing historical documentation to prove they are descendants!) who have contributed family materials to our organization over the years.

Louis Joachim Otondosonne was one of a group of Abenaki men at Odanak who received grants of land at Durham (further up the St. François Riviére) in 1805. Legal problems concerning these land grants arose in later years creating a series of documents we refer to as "The Durham Papers". These documents contain information about the legal heirs (descendants) of the original grantees and help clarify the exact makeup of this late 1700s family.

The Otondosonne family head consisted of Louis Joachim Otondosonne (aka Swassin) & his wife Marie Eulalie Gill (aka Molly Swassin). Molly's 2nd husband was Pabomnolette Gill, who was likely her cousin. We know of no earlier husband for Marie Eulalie and no other woman of that name at Odanak in this time period. The legal heirs of Swassin who were still alive in the 1840s are listed in the Durham Papers as his son Louis Degonzague (aka Louis Watso) and his daughters Marie Alaine, Francoise Angelique (aka Sally Joachim), Louise Catherine, and Marie Ann plus a grandson known as Louis Lazare. The grandson was the only living descendent of Swassin's 2nd son, Lazare. The two daughters of concern to us are Marie Ann and Marie Alaine.

Marie Anne (Otondosonne) Capino

Marie Ann is the younger of the two and probably married 18-Jan-1813 at Odanak to Joseph Thomas Capino. The marriage record PDF LINK  at St. Francois for this date does not tell us the family name for either person. The marriage record is an excellent match for this couple but there will always be a certain degree of uncertainty. We do know from other records, Marie Alaine's husband was Joseph Thomas Capino. We know of five children for this couple - all were baptized in the Catholic mission church between 1814 and April 1823. The last child was born about 5 months after Joseph Thomas Capino died in November 1822. If this alleged woman, Sarah Joseph Louis (mother of Nancy Snow and born before 1819), was their child, we should find her baptism in the church register. A page by page review found no child named Sarah born to any Native parents.

Marie Anne does not appear to have remarried after the death of Joseph Thomas Capino, at least not at Odanak and we don't know when or where she died. She does not appear in the "tribal" census between 1841 and 1852 (only heads of household), but her children do remain at Odanak and on the Durham lands in this period, so she may be included in one of their households. We know she is still alive in 1852, when her youngest son, Theophile, married. In his marriage record PDF LINK  she is referred to as "of Riviere St. Jean". This is perhaps a reference to the Saguenay River which leads to Lac Saint-Jean, where we know other Odanak families were.

Marie Alaine (sometimes found as Marie Helene) Otondosonne

A marriage record PDF LINK  at St. Francois in 1794 probably is for Marie Alaine Otondosonne and Joseph Louis. The parents listed for her make it very likely, but there is still room for error. We found no suitable parents for him - that is to say there is no other known person with parents of those names and no marriage record at St. Francois for Abenaki named Charles & Angelique. We found no known children for Marie Alaine & Joseph Louis.

We actually took the time to review the parish register (as it appears at Ancestry.com) page by page for the years 1794 to 1819. There is no Native child named Sarah born in that period to any Native parents.

We don't know exactly when Joseph Louis died, but Marie Alaine is found as a head of household in the tribal census we have access to (1841-1952 period). She is shown associated with the Durham Lands from 1845-1852.

Beginning with the 1841 Odanak Tribal Census you will find Marie Alaine Otondosonne with her "petit fils" (granddaughter) until 1850. We do not have access to an 1851 census but Marie Alaine is alone in 1852. We have not been able to determine a name for the grandchild and our search of the Church registers did not turn up any children for Marie Alaine and Joseph Louis. There is always the possibility this is not a grandchild by blood - i.e. the child of a step-child is not a genetic descendant. This grandchild is listed as an adult female in 1841, meaning 16 or older, suggesting a birth year no later than 1825/6. This grandchild is consistently listed as an adult female over a number of Tribal Census years, lending validity to the accuracy of the data. The historical documents suggest the grandchild is still at Odanak in 1850.

The claim suggesting a woman named Sarah Joseph Louis was the daughter of Marie Anne or Marie Alaine Otondosonne is not supported by any historical documentation. Furthermore, the claim Nancy (Snow) Batchelder is living with her grandmother, Marie Alaine (or Marie Anne) Otondosonne is disproven by the historical documentation showing the grandchild at Odanak was born at least 6 years before Nancy Snow.

Our Conclusion

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We would like to point out once again that we are only judging a set of documents concerning people living in the 1800s - not on people living today. We have no way of knowing who created this family story and which if any family members might be using these documents to perpetrate a fraud.

Our research using historical documentation shows the family claims to be completely unfounded and in some cases the claims are actually disproven by the historical record. It is our opinion the family story and tree appearing on the blog has been generated in recent years (not from an historical family bible or other historical papers as claimed) to create the illusion of an Abenaki identity for Nancy (Snow) Batchelder.

The family documents presented on the blog Reinvention of the Alleged Vermont and New Hampshire Abenaki  OFF-SITE LINK  concerning Nancy (Snow) Batchelder do not provide any supporting documentation or identify any historical sources to confirm any of the data or claims being made.

Where is the historical documentation that provides us with

  • the names of the parents of Nancy Snow
  • evidence Joseph Snow, the Onondaga Chief, had a daughter Nancy
  • evidence Joseph Snow, the Onondaga Chief, married an Abenaki woman
  • evidence a wife of Joseph Snow, the Onondaga Chief, was named Sarah
  • evidence a child named Sarah was born to either Marie Alaine or Marie Anne Otondosonne

Without the above items to verify claims, it is nothing more than speculation - saying something does not make it true.

All of the information about the Otondosonne family contained in the blog documents can be found on our website and this information has been online since the winter of 1999/2000.

We have to wonder - if the family really has documentation to show Nancy's father was the Onondaga Chief, Joseph Snow - why aren't they claiming their Iroquois heritage?

If there is any historical documentation out there anywhere to disprove or further prove our conclusion - please share it with us. We would be pleased to retract our statements and re-evaluate this family story. But until such time as someone comes forward with appropriate materials, Ne-Do-Ba declares this family tree to be a hoax.

We suggest the descendants of Nancy Snow & Norris Batchelder roll up their sleeves and get down to the real work of determining the true identity of their parents - starting from scratch, using historical records, and sound research techniques is the only way you will ever know the truth of your heritage. We wish you the best of luck.

Now Let's Do Some Math

The genealogy charts in question were found on this page (starting with the 4th document from the top) of the blog Reinvention of the Alleged Vermont and New Hampshire Abenaki  OFF-SITE LINK 

Whenever you see a tree containing a number of generations with absolutely no dates entered, it should automatically raises a big red flag. How can we know the names of parents if we have not found a single vital record for the child? If the person did find proper documentation, why have they decided not to show it in the family tree? The primary answers are - because the person creating the tree did not do proper research or because the research led to answers not to their liking. In both cases the tree does not represent proper research, therefore can not be trusted. In the latter case, the tree is deliberately falsified to point to a conclusion more to the liking of the descendant - in other words, it is fraudulent.

I don't have to do any research or point out any of the many other gross flaws in this particular tree to show it is a fake. I only have to DO THE MATH - literally!

Before anyone can research an ancestor, they need to have some idea of when that person lived. Otherwise, how do we know if we found the right John Doe when we find the name in census or other records. If we do not have any vital records to work from we have to guesstimate something. A genealogy rule of thumb is that a person is at least 15 years old at the time of their first marriage or the birth of their first child. So, if we know a child was born in 1915, we also know the parents were born in or before 1900 - they may be older than 15 but not likely any younger. Yes, occasionally you will have a 14 year old giving birth and in Canada you may sometimes find a 12 or 13 year old girl being married to an adult male. In the case of the 12 year old, you will not find any children for the marriage until she is 3 or 4 years older. Using an age of 15 is a sound minimum value. Far more often the man will be in his early to mid twenties and the woman will be at least 18. In some cases it could be a 2nd or 3rd marriage, which makes the individuals even older.

The more generations with which you have to use this method the more inaccurate it becomes since some of the generations will be much older than 15 and not all of the descendants will be the first born child. So, if we are guesstimating over a number of generations the minimum birth date we come up could be several decades later than the actual birth date - that is to say if we come up with a minimum birth year for generation 8 of 1800, it could easily be 1750, but it will never be later than 1800.

So let's take a closer look at this tree. Here is our marked-up version - Consolidated Pedigree Chart. Working with the line that supposedly descends from the Odanak Abenaki families of Capino & Otondosonne -- we start with the first descendant that has a date entered and work our way back to an ancestor with dates.


Marguerite Tartre #10 has a marriage date of 1883

NEXT GENERATION
Charles Tartre #510 - father of Marguerite Tartre #10

NEXT GENERATION
Ursule Vegiard-Labonte #512 - mother of Charles Tartre #510

NEXT GENERATION
Antoine Vegiard-Labonte #521 - father of Ursule Vegiard-Labonte #512

NEXT GENERATION
M. Madeleine Pineau #538 - mother of Antoine Vegiard-Labonte #521

NEXT GENERATION
Joseph Pineau-Capino #541 - claimed father of M. Madeleine Pineau #538

OOOPS! We have a big problem. We just proved that M. Madeleine Pineau was born no later than 1808, and in all probability much earlier. How can she be the daughter of a man born in 1821 - at least 13 years after her latest possible birth date? Wow, that guy must be really potent to conceive a child before he himself was born - that's a good trick don't you think?

We have now shown using simple math how this tree can not be valid. No need to waste any time with serious research on an obviously fraudulent tree. We just don't understand how any person creating such a tree can say they are "PROUD" of their Abenaki ancestry with a straight face knowing full well they have faked it?

Research by: Canyon Wolf