Pettus Family Genealogy Forum
Let me put it this way: by errors, I mean statements that are demonstrably false by reference to original (contemporary) records. Certainly, in my forthcoming history of the Pettus family, my intent is to correct the errors I found in earlier studies of Pettus genealogy, including the articles by Stacy and the one by the Misses Wales. In some cases, I can only point out that what Stacy claimed was conjectural or speculative. It is usually very difficult to disprove a conjecture, which, by definition, was not based upon original records in the first place. If no record exists, then the credibility of the conjecture depends largely upon the reputation of its creator and the scope of the writer's research. Undoubtedly, Stacy, who devoted her life to the subject, is the most respected and widely read Pettus genealogist. Nevertheless, I have studied some of Stacy's correspondence with other noted genealogists, and I have seen earlier versions of her Pettus genealogy in which she expressed entirely different opinions. So, I have acquired some understanding of how her ideas evolved and how she came to the conclusions that she published in her articles and in her book on the Pettus family.
In my view, some problems in early Pettus genealogy may never be solved conclusively, because too many records from the colonial period in Virginia have been lost or destroyed. I believe that in cases where the evidence is lacking, earlier writers often resorted to conjecture and speculation to fill in the gaps.
In my book, I have tried to present the unsolved problems in a forthright manner and to summarize and critique the views expressed by earlier writers. In a few cases, I have actually found records in Virginia or England not previously mentioned that actually solve some of the outstanding problems. I am presently striving to document every statement of fact by reference to a contemporary, original record, wherever possible. Thus, I now have over 3,300 end notes to my first volume on Pettus history.