Ever wonder how there came to be so many messed up family trees? Too much prosperity, too much money for chasing after desires and rumors, and too much sharing of mistakes. The rumor mill floats a good story one time and then a million gazillion clones spring up.
I am upset with Ancestry.com because they could add a star or something when there is a known error and point people toward their real family line – the real ancestors – in what we might call “truth trees.”
We all have mistakes anyway. My favorite story about mistakes is about an error I made myself and still cannot get corrected in all the trees. I wrote about this earlier in the Two Mary Janes – you can see it in contents.
I got the birth certificate for John Kidd born 1845 Lancashire and it clearly says his mother is Mary Jane and her maiden name is Hutton and they are living on the London Road. John’s father, also John, is a pawnbroker and if you look deeper in the records, you find a James Hutton, of the right age to be the father of Mary Jane, who is also a pawnbroker at a London Road address.
What can go wrong? You put this up in a tree and “Bob’s your uncle and Charlie’s your aunt.” But then you find the obit for gg grandmother Mary Jane who was the wife of pawnbroker John Kidd living at X Y Z address – but it says she is Mary Jane, daughter of Abraham Walker of Richhill. Do what?
It all added up and I went hat in hand, writing to tree person after tree person – all three of them I think it was – whom I had given the wrong information for Mary Jane. And as goodness would shine on us, the names were changed. Mary Jane Hutton daughter of James Hutton became Mary Jane Walker daughter of Abraham Walker and she had had three children.
Then the mistake came to light. My gran was in fact Mary Jane Hutton; she had died young and soon after John had married a second time to Mary Jane Walker. We can see her in the 1851 census, but without having the death and marriage records, I did not realize this was a new Mary Jane.
Now, again with hat in hand, I returned to our in-laws who were furious – I am sure – at my mistakes. And unfortunately, I think these mistakes are still out there on other trees.
Countless faamily history stories like this one were playing out on the rootsweb.com message boards for years. Tall stories that had sometimes circulated in families for generations were shared. It seems like some threads had a life of their own, and the stories grew as the years passed.
You can search the boards by topics or locations. Yes there is even a DNA category with places and names. Search by country and then look for the states or provinces and counties and parishes. Regions or groups of peoples.
Search for your ancestors! You can use “quotation marks” to make a phrase around a name or place or event or use multiple words with a phrase and search to find what stories were told and documentation was shared about your people.
I have said for ages to not stop searching until you make yourself a cousin to yourself. Learn everything about your people including the local history of where they lived. Use the newspaper archives as a go-to place to learn about your people.
Many of the original sites of online genealogy are being saved. Some are still thriving, others have taken new shape and others are still their magnificent wonderful selves.
You can also see on many databases that many names are more commonplace than you might think. I am not the only Cherie Lynn who researches genealogy, and I am not the only one in many records. There are multiple of me living in different places and with overlapping medical records. No matter what it says, I have never been to Texas.
In the coming of the internet age for genealogy there was so much downloading of people and adding them to trees, and so many digital clicks to merge-duplicate, that the nightmare of trees with the wrong ancestors grew. Not just the wrong people, but two people being merged who were not related in any way. In just a click (not even needing a second click to confirm — that came later) two people would become one. You could have a digital mistake-person who was born in 1927 New York and died in 1842 Liverpool.
I began working on a computer in 1983 and I know we could have software that would gleefully fix these errors with one click. It would be fun to find the mistakes and correct them – to know the real ancestors. Then when we travel to our countries of origin, we might get to the real home of a real ancestor. Have real Truth Trees.
Oneline Family Stories are our digital heirlooms
So many wonderful stories in the Message Boards – notes about where to find the documents and clues about their meaning. They help us to build trees that are correct to the best of our ability.
I still use them to search for our Kidd ancestors and descendants.
Where is, what happened to, Harry Hutton Kidd? – it all started with and remains walled up there. Generations of ancestors and loads of information about the family but Harry is gone. I often write that I wonder if she buried him in the basement?