This image was also posted to the Faread2fastcebook page for Genealogy Tip of the Day but it’s seems like a good reminder for most of us.

I encountered this petition from Mary Brown to be appointed the guardian of her daughter of the same name in Stow, Massachusetts, in 1766 (Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Probate Case File 2948).

When viewing and downloading the files for future analysis, I was only partially reading them as I intended to more fully review them after I had completed the download. This file almost seemed to be the incorrect one as I was reading too quickly and thought the “&” was an “of.” This was one document where that would make a significant difference.

The Mary Brown in which I had an interest was the widow of an Ephraim Puffer. After his death she married Amos Brown and he died as well. This petition is for her to be appointed guardian of their daughter Mary Brown. Jabez Puffer (Mary’s in-law) is serving as her bondsman on the guardianship. That’s made clear in the remainder of the document.

When something like this happens I am reminded of the importance of not making snap judgments when review documents superficially. It’s easy to say that one should “never do it.” The reality is a little more difficult.

But jumping to conclusions can be a problem–and that “&” matters.

Sometimes one item read incorrectly is all that it takes to become really confused.





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