Now, I've not by any means exhausted all possible research areas, I've never left home on this one, but something just isn't right with some of the information I'm getting from other researchers. As I usually do, I reached out to see who else is researching the family to see what "cousins" I might turn up and to obviously view their research.. that's when the trouble started.
I had already found a marriage for Samuel William Hott age 24 and Mary Matilda Henderson age 21, the parents of my Sarah Hott. Here's the entry in the marriage register from the WV Culture site:
Because the marriage was in November and the 1870 census was taken in August I thought I would find him in his parents home for that census year - sure enough, he's there in the home of John and Caroline, listed as Samuel W. Hott age 23.
After looking at some of the other census for previous years I believed that I had found my correct Samuel William Hott in the home of John and Caroline Hott. I put these details in the post that I put on the message board.
I received a note from another researcher telling me that Mary Matilda Henderson was married to Samuel Walker Hott, the son of James and Harriett Saville Hott. And that John and Caroline didn't have a son named Samuel... this didn't seem to match the marriage record and the census information I had already found showing Samuel's middle name as William and finding him in the home of John and Caroline. So I decided to check into the census records further, looking for both Samuels and see what I could find.
Checking the household of James and Harriett I find no son named Samuel in 1870, nor can I find him elsewhere with any certainty - this doesn't mean anything yet.
In 1860 things get a bit interesting:
In the home of John and Caroline I find Samuel age 14,
In the home of James and Harriett I find a son named Walker age 15 - could this be Samuel Walker Hott? Possibly.
In 1850 in the home of John and Caroline I find Samuel age 6
In the home of James and Harriett I find Walker age 5.
Getting back to the other researcher with my obvious confusion on her info and explaining what I've found - she again tells me that I don't have the correct Samuel. She now mentions the Samuel William Hott and Mary Matilda Henderson are the correct parents - but again re-iterating that he is the son of James and Harriett. Now I'm not one to "question" others' work - typically just going out on my own to prove or disprove what I've been told should I find varying facts. I am of the belief that I do have the correct Samuel, the son of John and Caroline, but still need to dig deeper, yet I don't want to run off chasing the wrong man. I needed to find more proof.
I started to view some of the records submitted to various trees on Ancestry and then FamilySearch and found that other researchers are also listing Samuel Walker Hott, son of James and Harriett as the husband of Mary Matilda Henderson. Where in the world are they getting this information? The researcher that I've been in contact with hasn't provided me with any sources, but she did mention another researcher who is highly regarded with with the DAR (apparently we have a Revolutionary war soldier somewhere in the line - but that's another story). At this point I feel like everyone has taken this information and run with it, entering it in their trees and posting it on the web, no sources are listed for the info other than reference to two different books which I cannot get my hands on to see their sources.
Not living in the area where there may be further records, I'll need to venture out at some point and see what I can find and continue to collaborate with other researchers of this family until I get to a point where I'm comfortable with the information. This doesn't mean that the information from others is correct or incorrect necessarily and I'm not challenging someone else's work - I just need the proof, in front of my own eyes, where I can make it real... Is that so wrong?