It doesn’t matter what I believe. It only matters what I can prove!— LT Daniel Kaffee
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.— John Adams
… prior to 1660 only five persons out of over 33,000 had genuine middle names.— Kent P. Bailey & Ransom B. True 
 Kent P. Bailey and Ransom B. True, A Guide to Seventeenth-Century Virginia Court Handwriting, Second Reprint 2015 (Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Genealogical Society, The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities) p29.
If an unsourced, private tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, serious genealogists cheer.— Serious genealogist
Our focus shifted in 2021 from the Watne branch to the Spratlin and Knight branches. In May 2021, we made a major breakthrough in the Spratlin line, realizing the widely-held belief that James Spratling (1742–1812) was the son of John Spradlin (1712–1769) and Mary English (1713–1756) was pure fiction, fake genealogy. We also invested considerable time improving the Knight family profiles on WikiTree in an effort to more widely disseminate recent research into the Knights of colonial Virginia.
On 21 Sep 1674, the Grand Assembly, held at James City, Virginia, enacted Act I – An act for the safeguard and defense of the country against the Indians.  to defend the northern frontier of the colony against the Susquehannocks and other Indian groups. The act provides for 8 garrisons and specifies the number of men each county is to provide. Ammunition, provisions, tools, surgeons, medicines, horses, pay to footmen and horsemen, compensation for families of those slain, and compensation for owners of horses killed are all specified. Rules of engagement and articles, rules and orders to be observed (26 in all) by the men are specified.
Act I specifies that 34 men out of Northumberland County, 25 men out of Lancaster County, and 25 men out of Middlesex County be garrisoned at one fort or place of defense on the Potomac River at or near John Mathew’s land in the county of Stafford (now Fairfax County), of which fort Captain Peter Knight is to be captain or chief commander.
Virginia Historical Highway Marker E-70, Colonial Fort, stands near this site at 38° 46.763′ N, 77° 3.111′ W, next to the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Belle Haven, Virginia. 
CPT Peter Knight (1620–1705) is 10th great-grandfather of MKS in the Knight branch.
 Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Historical Highway Markers, database search > E-70 > Colonial Fort, Fairfax (County). Virginia Department of Historic Resources, 1999 (photograph).
 William Waller Hening (editor), The statutes at large; being a collection of all the laws of Virginia, from the first session of the legislature, in the year 1619; …, Vol II (New York: R. & W. & G. Bartow (printer), 1823), pp326-336; digital images, Hathitrust.org (https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.35112104867892).
Livestock owners in the Colony of Virginia protected their rights to their livestock with earmarks, shapes cut into the animal’s ears. Earmarks were preferred there in the 17th century over branding. 
These earmarks were recorded in the county court to help in the return of stray livestock, or litigation over stolen livestock.
Our James Spratling recorded his earmark with the County Court of Lunenburg County, Colony of Virginia, on 4 Nov 1760. 
His earmark is described as “a Crop and Slit in the Right Ear, and a Swallow fork in the Left.”
These same earmarks are still in use today. 
James removed from Lunenburg County to Henry County, Virgina, before 1777. On 25 Nov 1779, he recorded a different earmark with the Court there —it is difficult to read, but appears to say: “Under Kut in each Earr.”
James Spratling (1742–1812) is 6th great-grandfather of MKS in the Spratlin branch.
 Virginia DeJohn Anderson, “Animals into the Wilderness: The Development of Livestock Husbandry in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake,” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 59, no. 2, 2002, pp377–408; digital images, JSTOR (https://www.jstor.org/stable/3491742).
 County Court, Lunenburg County, Virginia, County Court order books, 1746-1865, Order books, 1759-1762; database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS42-T9J3-6?i=235&cat=398428), image 236, verso.
 Arizona Department of Agriculture, Registered Brands, 2021, p5; digital images (http://searchagriculture.az.gov/docs/brandbook.pdf).
[4} Henry County, Virginia, Order and Minute Books, 1777-1904, General Indexes, 1777–1904, Order Books, v. 1-6 1777–1797; database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS42-PXSG?cat=400740), image 61, recto.
Conventional wisdom assures us James Spratling (1742–1812), husband of Winifred Munday, is the son of John Spradlin (1712–1769) and Mary English (1713–1756). And this conventional wisdom goes on to assure us John is the grandson of Andrew Spradling (1652–1733) of New Kent County, Virginia, apparently Andrew Spradling the Immigrant.
- Andrew Spradling (1652–1733) and Ann (Unknown) Spradling (1652–unk)
- Andrew Spradling (1689–1738) and Elizabeth (Chaddock) Spradling (1693–1717)
- John Spradlin (1712–1769) and Mary English (1713–unk)
- James Spratling (1742–1812) and Winifred (Munday) Spratling (1751–1835)
Years ago, this author embraced this conventional wisdom, copying and pasting the line into our family tree. But does the conventional wisdom of 100s of unsourced on-line trees equal truth? A few minutes spent comparing an abstracted source to the primary source and a few Big Y-700 DNA tests have destroyed the conventional wisdom, replacing it with a blank sheet of paper.
The most extensive research of James Spratling and Winifred Munday was conducted by Marion S. Wattenbarger  before 1998. Marion’s research focuses on establishing that James’ wife Winifred is Winifred Munday, daughter of James Munday of Caroline County, Virginia. Her well-sourced research is a treasure chest, providing the primary sources for the life of our James Spratling.
But perhaps the most interesting thing about Marion’s research is what is not there—not one word about James’ parents or origin. Marion was the brave genealogist among us. She stuck to what she could prove.
How did James Spratling come to be the son of John Spradlin and Mary English?
Well, an abstract of course! So much easier to read an abstract than the cursive handwriting of the primary source—is cursive writing even taught in schools any more.
Records of Hanover County.Abstract of The Small Book, 1734–1735, Records of Hanover County. 
The Small Book, 1734–1735.
Mary English, extor of Jno. Spradlin. Security Michael Gentry, Saml. Gentry.
Our imagination fills in the rest. Mary is John’s wife—ok, that part is not hard to imagine as the wife is often the executor of the husband’s estate in this era. But he needs a birth date. He needs a death date. And throw in a child while we are at it. Or perhaps that came later, John being discovered in the area, with a very unique surname, the right age to be the father of our James, an ancestor in need of parents.
But something is already amiss. Do you see it? Why is a Jany. 1773 record in the 1734–1735 records of Hanover County, Virginia. Well, it isn’t.
In the primary source , image 23, left-hand side of the page, we find something very different.
In the record dated 5 Mar 1733 (O.S.), we find the probate for John Spradlin, deceased in 1734, not 1769, whose wife Mary Spradlin is executrix, with Samuel and Nicholas Gentry posting bond.
- 5 Mar 1733 (O.S.), not Jany., 1773.
- Mary Spradlin, not Mary English.
- Nicholas Gentry, not Michael Gentry.
The primary source is clearly referring to John Spradlin (1678–1734) who married Mary Gentry.
Where did Mary English come from? Flip back one page to image 22, right-hand side of the page. There we find the 7 Jul 1727 (O.S.) settlement of the estate of John English, Mary English extor. This record and the record at the top of image 23, left-hand side of the page, are both missing from the abstract.
Mary English is her married name in the primary source. However, in the 100s of unsourced on-line trees, Mary English is her maiden name, and she is the daughter of John and Mary English.
The marriage of John Spradlin (1712–1769) and Mary English is an abstraction error, two records conflated into one. He does not exist.
Not convinced? Want to bet?
Descendants of Andrew Spradling (1652–1733) and James Spratling (1742–1812) have taken Y-DNA tests with FamilyTreeDNA. See the data on the Spradlin Project.
The descendants of Andrew Spradling are haplogroup R-FGC21301. Three descendants of James Spratling, including this author, are haplogroup R-BY67253. These two haplogroups are estimated to share a Most Recent Common Ancestor between 127 and 155 generations ago, between 1600 B.C. and 2400 B.C.
The Spradlings and Spratlings of the Colony of Virginia are not related in either the genealogical or the historical time frame.
The parents of James Spratling are unknown.
James Spratling (1742–1812) and Winifred Munday (1750–1835) are 6th great-grandparents of MKS in the Spratlin branch.
 Marion S. Wattenbarger, “James Spratling and His Wife, Winifred (Munday), Caroline and Henry Counties and Wilkes County, Georgia,” Tidewater Virginia Families: A Magazine of History and Genealogy, Virginia Lee Hutcheson David, editor, 12 vol. (Berwyn Heights, Maryland: Heritage Books, Inc., 2016), 6:1 (May 1997 – Feb 1998):30-38.
 “Records of Hanover County.”, The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 1, 1912, 49; digital images, JSTOR (https://www.jstor.org/stable/1922081).
 Gary Parks (indexer), Virginia Land Records From The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, the William and Mary College Quarterly, and Tyler’s Quarterly (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1982), 85; digital images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/sharing/23352612?h=abdcc6).
 County Court, Hanover County, Virginia, Deeds, wills inventories, and settlement of estates, 1733–1735, Miscellaneous probate and land records, 1733–1792, Item 1, Deeds, wills, inventories, and settlement of estates 1733-1735; database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99P6-3SFR?cat=365146), image 22-23.
Doveryai, no proveryai.— Russian proverb
Is the genealogist insisting on sourced facts the whacker or the mole in Whac-a-Mole?— kms