My great-great-grandfather was Thomas M. Duvall, born about 1842, in Ashe County, North Carolina. He lived in Ashe County for most of his life. On the 1860 census, he is enumerated with his parents (John and Mary Duvall), along with his siblings:1 Margaret, John, Mastin, Mary, John and Elijah.1
Somehow, Thomas and Maston have been merged into one individual in online family trees at Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.com, and WikiTree.com. Unfortunately, information – even incorrect information – spreads rapidly on the Internet.
A review of Deeds for Ashe County revealed deeds in the names of Thomas M. (sometimes T.M.) and Caroline Duvall. The legal description in one Deed involving Thomas Duvall specifically notes a bordering property line to land owned by Mastin Duvall.
Thomas and Maston are enumerated living next to each other on the 1880 census.2
I do not know how Thomas and Maston became merged into one person. I suspect someone found a record for Maston during a time period when one could not be found for Thomas and decided that they were the same person. As a result, incorrect information is now attributed to Thomas, including a date of death that belongs to Maston. Actually, I have been unable to find any death information for Thomas. I suspect he moved from Ashe County after 1900, which is one of my current research projects.
We all know why they say you should never assume. In genealogy, this is especially important. As we can see, a few bits of incorrect information have created what could be considered a fictional ancestor. Finding a new record is exciting, but it should be evaluated within the context of the documented, existing details.
1 1860 U.S. Census, Ashe County, North Carolina, population schedule, North Eastern District, page no. 83, dwelling 589, family 589, John Duvall; image no. 5 of 25, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7602/images/ 4117807_00347?pId=56866067: accessed 21 August 2022); citing microfilm publication Series M653, roll 887, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
2 1880 U.S. Census, Ashe County, North Carolina, population schedule, Staggs Creek Township, page no. 20, dwelling 178, family 187, Thomas M. Duvall; image no. 20 of 26, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7602/images/ 4117807_00347?pId=56866067: accessed 21 August 2022); citing microfilm publication T9, roll 952, National Archives, Washington, D.C.