Guilty Of Guessing And Other Genealogy Crimes ~ Maiden Names, Any Notes, And Truthful DOCUMENTED Trees

I am guilty of all these vile injustices to posterity and dishonoring my ancestors. Whether by accident – having too much faith in trees and in the beginning not knowing the trees had such rampant mistakes, or new information coming to light which corrects with previously unknown details and not taking enough time to inform other people of the new information and at least try to get the information corrected.

Maiden names? Let’s get that out of the way – ONLY maiden name or put unknown; never the married name. I put Nee unknown and I hope someone will correct me, I bet the search engines for matching people in databases has a preferred unknown word. Just do it.

I am guilty especially when I have added people via online site AncestryDOTcom – in clicking yes to add a family to a tree they might all get added to the tree – especially if a new family with mistakes in any spelling and the wife with the married name. So just remember to fix them. How can the search engine look for your ancestress under her maiden name as a little girl, if you only have her listed as her married name? Certainly, the rule is start with a person’s death record but remember for the ladies they were born with another name. And always take into account from the first record for a person – their death – consider if the people who gave the information would have known all the answers correctly.

And oh, the trees with mistakes – give me a stroke. If I have to see one more tree and argument about the travesty of Orra Eugene Monnette’s first book. Monnette changes the names of all the Money family in his book. He says they are Monnette, and even though he admits in the book the county clerk said this name was not in any county record, Monnette still says these people are Monnettes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

But the County records do exist and clearly the name of this family for almost 200 years was Money. See the blog of the Jacob Money of North Carolina v John Money of Maryland along with Money Monnette.

Or see the horror of  putting all Lewises into one family that are in William Terrell Lewis’s “Genealogy of the Lewis Family In America: From The Middle Of The Seventeenth Century Down To The Present Time.”

The title is the click bait – and I do believe WTL would never have used that title – I might be wrong. But it was his daughter who actually published after his death. Cousin MLM has seen WTL’s original file in the archives in Montgomery, Alabama and he might know. But he never claimed these people were related. See some of the Lewis story in the blog Colin Powell’s Eyes.

A free eBook of William Terrell Lewis’ research


As a novice, I, like all people, could not imagine and there are few who say the trees are a mess and most of them are full of some kind of mistakes – or sometimes records seem to indicate it is right and then gets copied and then trying to get the mistakes changed is a nightmare.

AncestryDOT said, when I called them ages ago, to add info like DNA proof and record suggestions for changes in comments – and then Ancestry took the comments of the people away – you have to add comments to pictures/scans.

And I know the trees were a mess long before Ancestry – there are heart attacks in Rootsweb trees also – BUT with Rootsweb there are some trees with extensive notes that state proof. These trees came from the wonderful dinosaurs of early genealogy when everyone was trying to learn the right way to research. Later the AncestryDOT leaves and hits were introduced and first without any – “are you sure” compare closely and pick and choose which info is correct – and i called it the search and matching engine on steroids and it hurt us all.

The computers could just as easily show people flags as they do leaves and offer serious suggestions for corrections – like the DNA of these two people does not match and the family line matches this family. – Real stuff.

The worst mistake I made and can’t seem to get communicated to get fixed is the Two Mary Janes. You will find more to the story in a blog about them from one of the first blogs. I had the 1845 UK birth record for the child, it said his mother’s name, Mary Jane Hutton. The 1851 and 1861 censuses have the wife and mother correctly named Mary Jane Kidd. Then the 1862 death notice says Mary Jane, daughter of Abraham Walker. Do what?


After reading a death notice from 1862 naming a Mary Jane Walker, I thought this record of the mother’s maiden name was wrong. But this was the correct name of the mother of John Edward Kidd 1845 – 1915

Ok, I write to everybody and they all changed Mary Jane to Walker. I got in touch with a Sinclair researcher who has these Walkers and the news goes round the world. Then I find another death notice and a second marriage. The first death was Mary Jane daughter of James Hutton. The second marriage was Mary Jane Walker daughter of Abraham Walker. He had married two Mary Janes! One lady did not answer my email and the mistakes are out there.

The tree mistakes have a new horror with the tree matching on AncestryDNA, if two people have the same incorrect info then a DNA Circle can be created and it appears the DNA is confirming the mistakes.

There is little to do – for all posterity – the wrong ancestors could forever be revered by some.

I hope DNA will change all this. We need to know the distance any type of DNA test will reach and we should enjoy learning more about what matches mean in our trees, whether with or without DNA for genealogy.

Now that AncestryDNA has made it easier to see the AMOUNT of SHARED CENTIMORGANS two people share – we can see more clearly the possible relationships two people could have, based on the amounts.

Copy of cms on ancestry

This new addition of making the cMs EASY to see on the AncestryDNA matches page is wonderful. You can see the people in my list of matches. The first three people are all known 1st cousins. You see they share 941 cMs, 850 cMs and 674 cMs with me – much more, and they would maybe have to be more than a 1st cousin, and too much less and the person would have to be a half first cousin or other relative with a similar number of shared genes. The next two in the list are known 2nd cousins and their shared amounts are about average for 2nd cousins. And so on. With charts like below you can guess how closely you and a match are related

I will link to more great charts – below

1 centimorgans shared cousins

Here are some real amounts I have experienced between two confirmed relatives.

So when you see a match, now look for the amounts, and using several of the charts, compare the amounts you share with to see what that relationship could be. So if the websites look at your two trees and point you to a common ancestors 14 generations ago, you may be thrilled and believe the DNA match proves the line. But then see the amount of shared genes shows the two of you must be 2nd cousins or something similarly close. Then you know that the website’s suggestion was off the mark and you need to re-examine the trees.

Every blog I write and every piece of advice I give these 15 years of internet genealogy and many years before that for traditional – I try to make sure over and over that I am sharing the correct information. And I try to update blogs with any new information so that if new details come to light they will be in the original information with any additions.

Especially with the blog and its reach where mistakes cannot easily be corrected – I have asked for peer review and had lots of feedback. Especially with a few of my more unusual topics or solutions I have made sure I got others to critique and I hope I would never make a mistake that would fail my purpose – to give the research to any who would like it. And as I began, to make a few basics easier to understand.

About the best to learn about how information can and does change Thomas W Jones – wonderful webinar. Learning – what to do when the research is tough.

Most of the errors are unintentional and they are human – I hope any will help me make my tree perfect – for the past, the present and the future.

The Monnette records for easy reading

Copy of no monnett Copy of orra 393


Copy of orra 392

Copy of orra 393

Copy of orra 394

Copy of orra 395



One copy of Orra Eugene Monnette’s, Monnette Ancestry first book.

Maybe he was trying to say a polite – acceptance of all families in his writing, in his work, “maybe they were brothers”, or “they were probably brothers” – But they was no indication between many of the families in this book that families ever heard of each other, or had any connection in any way, and likely were not related.  But his 2nd book – well, I guess 2nd – his later book, was a nice read of information (adding link)

First settlers of ye plantations of Piscataway and Woodbridge, olde East New Jersey, 1664-1714,: A period of fifty years, Unknown Binding – 1930


I hope for time to research the real ancestor, Jacob Money, of North Carolina who suffered from the matching tree linking on steroids. The poor man is dishonored to try to make him John Money of Cecil County and no reason to make him a Catholic Monnette of Calvert County.








2 thoughts on “Guilty Of Guessing And Other Genealogy Crimes ~ Maiden Names, Any Notes, And Truthful DOCUMENTED Trees

    • I have to stay on my knees and hope I can remember where all my “mistakes” are to get them changed. (how do I add a smiling face?) Thanks for reading and thanks for your thoughts and thanks that you research – even with “mistakes”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s