Are You Recording Fairy Tales in Your Genealogy Records?

WARNING: This is a “soapbox article” in which I rant and rave a little.

A newsletter reader wrote to me recently expressing unhappiness with all the erroneous information found in online family trees. The bogus information is usually found in family tree information submitted by other users of whatever online family tree service is being used at the moment.

My belief is that this newsletter reader wasn’t spending much time looking at online images of census, birth, marriage, and death records or at other online documents of value to genealogists: old newspapers, military pension files, and such things.

I decided to share my response publicly in this newsletter so that others could either benefit from or reject my ideas and suggestions.

Instead of spending your time looking at other people’s fairy tales, I suggest you look at original records and newspapers (or digital images of original records and newspapers).That’s the manner that experienced genealogists have used for decades, and it has always worked well.

Luckily, millions of such records are available online today, unlike the days when I started doing genealogy in the 1980s. In “the old days,” I often had to go to the locations where the records were kept. I spent a lot of money on travel and on photocopying machines. However, the expense was worth it. I got accurate results most of the time.

Back in the 1980s, we also had thousands of self-published books written by other genealogists with claims of their family trees. Those books were just as inaccurate as today’s online family trees. Those books often were a mix of facts and conjecture, often accompanied by so-called “family coats of arms” and similar fictitious material.

Sadly, in the 1980s and earlier, thousands of new genealogists did not understand the difference between unsourced information versus documented records. A lot of junk claims were copied, republished, and distributed all over the place.

I will suggest that online databases of genealogy information intermixed with fairy tales hasn’t really changed genealogy very much. The only difference today is that computers and online capabilities allow genealogists to publish accurate and inaccurate information alike faster, easier, and at less expense than ever before.

My belief is that the PERCENTAGE of inaccurate genealogy information hasn’t changed much in many decades. What has changed is the QUANTITY of both accurate and inaccurate information available today.

The reality is that the basics of good genealogy research haven’t changed in the past century, even though we certainly have more convenient access today than ever. In short, any genealogy claims you find that are not accompanied by verifiable source citations to original records should be treated as a potential fairy tale.

Please don’t get me wrong: I still love the online family trees submitted by other genealogists, and I look at them often. I have thousands of such claims saved in various note files in my computer. I always want to know what someone else thinks is a fact. I want to save those possible fairy tales until I can verify the information myself through independent, well-trusted sources. In most cases, that means looking at an original record, either in person or as an online image.

I still want to know what another person believes is true, even though I have some doubts. Knowing someone else’s guesses is still better than knowing nothing at all about an ancestor. There are times when someone else’s guess gives me a clue as to what to look for to see if I can confirm or refute it.

I never, ever enter possible fairy tale information into my primary genealogy database until I have independently verified its accuracy in the original records. In other words, I don’t enter any information into my primary genealogy database until I have verified that it is NOT fairy tale information.

My belief is that your genealogy collection of facts can be better and more accurate today than ever before – if you really care about accuracy.

Anyone who doesn’t care about accuracy probably isn’t reading this article anyway.

What’s in your (possibly bogus) family tree?

51 Comments

All true. I never add info from someone’s tree unless I can find the original source. And my tree is private because so many people just copy entire trees with no evidence at all. I do share certs records with family and anyone who contacts me and is provably related.
But we must remember that all those census records, bmd certs, interment lists and more also have many errors and even outright lies. Unraveling it all is part of the fun.

Like

Great article. Thanks for saying this.

Like

I understand your point. This must mean that most of your various trees does not extend much further back than about 1790 when the first census was conducted. In New England, Pennsylvania, and Virginia sometimes various records extend further back. Newspapers rarely go back to pre revolutionary times. Bibles are not very reliable either. Families coming here in the time of Ellis Island can rarely trace back more than a generation or two with verifiable records. Your perfectly documented trees may not nasty or brutal, but they will be short.
Howard Bragg ; howardbragg@outlook.com

Like

    Not necessarily- in the absence of censuses, newspapers, etc. there remain wills, deeds, court records, church records and other more obscure sources can be used. Family bible records can be highly useful- IF they are contemporary with the events being recorded. Many of these sources are not yet online however so old-style research methods still have a place.

    Like

    Ned is right. There ARE records, depending on various factors. I’ve found church and civil records for my family in France in the 16th and 17th centuries. Getting easier to find as more countries make data available. I had to go to France and hire someone who knew where to look and interpret. I just found an original legal document (newly online) from the 1100s in England. The further back, the hard it is to find, but there ARE records out there. Same for U.S. But it may mean searching through records in distant court houses. Local historical societies can be a gold mine. Most not on line. One needs to call or visit.

    Like

I started genealogy in 1975, on a Commodore 64 with a gene. program I typed in line by line. My sourcing from then has me wincing when I re-find it and hurriedly upgrade it. Like you, inter-library loans, court houses, and lots of microfilm! I am so glad that I never put my early work on the web, I would probably blush at the naive sourcing I did then. I know what I listed, but it probably would only be good for kitty litter now.

Like

    I agree that the old town and family books contain errors, they also often refer to long lost documents viewed by the author ,or interviews with persons long dead. Local BDM’s are often copies or old bible records, extractions from old town records hand copied in fading ink, with poor penmanship. They were then re-recorded as they deteriorated. And again recorded as State government required records. The actual documents are indeed important an example: for years one ancestor was listed as Catherine Eley, everywhere her name was cited that way. A bond record in Virginia also an extraction , gives her name as Mrs. Catherine Eley. A deed by one of her sons confirms that this was a second marriage. Now to search for that original bond, by searching microfilm.

    Like

I too check the online trees. But as Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” Well, I change that to “Don’t trust — Verify.”

Like

Guess that means you don’t have a tree with 65,000 names and it doesn’t connect you to Royalty or Adam (Hubby Of Eve). Cuz you bet I believe those trees! 🙄

Like

    —> Guess that means you don’t have a tree with 65,000 names and it doesn’t connect you to Royalty or Adam (Hubby Of Eve).

    Well, I only have a tiny fraction of that number of people in my own family tree records and I haven’t yet found my descent from Adam and Eve. However, I am descended from royalty. (Where did I leave my crown?)

    Actually, that is very common. Almost everyone with French-Canadian ancestry can find well-researched and well-documented descent from Charlemagne and his royal ancestors are documented back to a few centuries earlier. For the details, see my earlier article, Most French Canadians are Descended from 800 Women Known as the Filles du Roi, at: https://blog.eogn.com/2017/07/26/most-french-canadians-are-descended-from-800-women-known-as-the-filles-du-roi/

    I gave references in that article to where you can find still more information about the proven lines of descent from Charlemagne to three different women in the “Filles du roi” who arrived in Quebec in the 1660s. Most all French-Canadians of today are descended from one or more of these women.

    Like

    Way too many of those on line now or people bragging about them.

    Like

Do tell! I ran into one cousin who refused to accept the verified sources and insist on ancestors being the full Mohawks. Cousins who are closer to this distant cousin tell me they have same problem with him.

Like

Yesterday I found a card index item in Ancestry showing my name. Looking at the brief details, my father and mother are correctly named but I am shown as having died in 2016. Waiting for a response from the Member.

Like

    20 years ago, a distant relative died intestate and a local attorney was appointed executor. He used a commercial genealogy search firm to look for heirs. I was told of this and contacted the attorney who gave me the name of the search company. I contacted them, offered information and asked for copies of the documentation/research notes used to compile the brief reports to the attorney. I was told both that they would NOT look at ANY information I had and that I would not be able to understand the notes/research they had done. You have to picture that about a page of the final report to the attorney was complaining about lack of access to New Haven, CT vital records.
    Comes the probate meeting with the judge, my Father, my uncle living in New Haven and, a married cousin and a bunch of people from the deceased’s mother’s side are there. Judge approves the settlement of the estate, attorney comes out into the waiting area and starts passing out checks to heirs….and the cousin says “Where’s Joe and why does’t he get a check?”. She and her husband had had dinner with Joe and his wife in FL the week before. My uncle Joe, who lives (still does, now age 94) was listed by the search firm as deceased- the last record they had for him was something from the 1940’s and no other records found. OOPS….Attorney had to go back into the Judge….phone calls were placed, proof was provided (a retired FBI agent still being alive is not that hard to confirm) and a new set of checks- with one for Joe- was cut.
    Idiots……I can understand not just accepting a list of people from the son of an heir and then just adding people to a list but refusing to look at the data with documentation and currenet location/contact information subject to independent confirmation is just…….Idiots.
    The attorney was not happy and embarrassed too.

    Like

I started in the late 1980’s. Microfilm, court house/town hall records, newspapers, interviews with family members, photographs, military records, bibles, cemeteries, family histories/trees…it’s all information. You have to find it, decide what is accruate and constantly update as you find both more information or that something is inaccurate. If I were starting now I would do things differently but starting over from scratch would be futile.
I have found and offered corrections to things in published genealogies which I believe were wrong. When I do that I offer the documentation and reasoning for the correction. For most of the earlier published (and a bunch unpublished (and not on-line) I am in awe of what people have found and that most of the data hangs together when I go and do direct research myself (original records). For the most part, I have treated anything constructed earlier as potential guides to where I need to look. Early on I would just collect the data but at that point it wasn’t out on the web. Much of that has now been verified or I am confident that the original writers (based on what I have verified) were substantialy correctd. Of course, that doesn’t include the ones that I looked at and just didn’t touch as far as extracting data because they didn’t feel right. It’s a constant balance of new research and looking for new people with adding depth of detail on existing people, particularly as new records become available. I am also frustrated by people who just copy in blocks and blocks of data from my tree- particularly when what I know from research means that they have no connection with the people I am working on except a matching surname, particularly when the “other” documentation they show clearly can’t be the same person.

Like

Great article, another caution is to look at the actual document and not just the transcription that led you to it, some of those are pretty far off from what the document has on it. I found one recently for an Indiana Death Certificate where the county was transcribed as the fellows last name. No wonder I was having trouble finding him. I look at the trees for possible hints but verify before including anything.

Like

I consider “fairy tales” to be oral, family history stories. These are a part of a family’s heritage, which have been passed on from generation to generation. As family historians, like “regular” historians, we should be questioning the stories, finding evidence or facts to verify or disprove them, and passing the updated versions on to the next generations for enjoyment or learning. It’s often the stories, not the facts, which capture others’ interest.

Like

I try to GENTLY respond to individuals whose trees have obviously wrong information for whatever reason. As an example, someone misread Ind on a census for my grandmother and had her born in India. I have two sets of trees: the private one has limited information and the more public one has some information that I want to check out later, so I don’t mind looking at other’s ‘clues’.

Like

There are genealogy RESEARCHERS…, and then there are genealogy COPIERS. The two are NOT the same. Even using first and second tier documents I leave enough room for doubt and will… IF documents with more accurate info are found and sent to me… change my genealogy database (I never change my info without documents now, although as recently as 25 years ago I would have done so on someone’s say-so). And I’m always open to someone correcting my typos, punctuation, or other general errors easily made, particularly if I’ve gone for 24 hours without sleep; I attempt to be as correct as possible in my records, so just those little edits make a world of difference. I will not, however, take credit for misspellings made by others, e.g., letters from my paternal grandmother to her sister in 1917, or by the 1910 census enumerator who so badly botched the spellings of every family member’s name except that of my gr-grandfather that I named the enumerator and gave him credit for the misspellings in my notes. Had I not known who they were, I never would have figured out who the offspring were supposed to be by his spelling. I suspect the enumerator was dyslexic, and to come up with those spellings he might also have been hard of hearing, but that wouldn’t help the newbie researcher who doesn’t realize how many valid spelling variations there can be vs incorrect spellings, vs just plain weird spellings (which is what these were). The penmanship is clear enough there was no mistaking what he wrote. Try deciphering Aince (Huh?), Vava (that one is almost correct), Susade (nope, not Susan), Orins.
Throw in multiple spellings from records in other countries, plus their extra vowels.
Add an obit about a woman…, but whoever wrote it mixed up data about her husband’s immigration indicating it was hers, and it wasn’t; it was her husband’s immigration experience. I deciphered it, got documents to prove the obit was all wrong.
Throw in cemetery headstone errors with dates carved in stone. (Grrrrrrrr…. I wish I could afford to replace the one for my gr-grandmother, in particular, altho there are other markers with incorrect data.)
There are enough ordinary errors out there without adding to them in my database.
I have enough documented stories for valid scandals to keep me busy, I don’t need to add fairy tales!
Oh – the real names in that 1910 US census were Inez, Viva, Sadie, and Orison. Go figure.

Like

    How do you write an obituary for a man born in 1888 and say he was a veteran of the Spanish American War? He was 10 when that started. No, he wasn’t in the Navy.

    Like

Bravo!
I am weary of asking folks about their genealogy. And hearing, “(random online) family tree” never with any documentation had it all.

Like

I enjoyed the article very much. She was so right on. Having started seriously researching in the early 1960’s I too made many visits to courtrhouses, cemeteries, funeral homes,visited with family. My Stinson family is well documented and I found a new person inserted at the head of all the siblings. They are all listed in my ancestors Revolutionary War Soldier’s pension application. I contacted this lady and politely suggested to her the error. Her reply? “I inherited my aunt’s genealogy papers and she had him there so she knows for a fact that her aunt didn’t make mistakes”. So this erroneous person will stay in her tree. After over 50 years of genealogy research I am still here and still kicking. Genealogy is truly “A Labor of Love”

Like

Thank you, Dick for reminding us about these “”stories. I am assisting /teaching a getting started class in March. I shall relay this to them. Mostly I hear that my great grandperson was full blooded Native American. (We can almost never prove this)

Like

I think one of the problems I didn’t see mentioned was people not being able to evaluate the records they look at. They will use a database with a name like “U.S. Marriage Records” and think that if they find a “marriage” in it that it is real and legitimate. You can point out to them that the database was formed from Family Group Records gathered back in the 1970s (I remember the company gathering them that advertised in every issue of “The Genealogical Helper” at the time), but they still believe it is an actual marriage record because of the database title. It “might” be an actual marriage record, if the person who submitted the Family Group Record used one, but in many cases from the 1600s and 1700s, they are just estimates of what may or may not be an actual couple. The same with similar titled databases of “birth” records or “death” records. They can’t be convinced they are not actual birth records, especially for a location in the 1600s that had no vital records. Another modern pet-peeve is when they cite “Find A Grave” as the source of a birth/death date, or names of parents, when there is no tombstone. Again, they think because it is on Find A Grave that those dates or relationships from the 1600s are legitimate. Usually it is just the same bad information from online trees that someone has copied and made a memorial for the person.

Like

    I have seen tombstones that don’t match the documents in the town vital records. I see cemetery compilations (which are very helpfull to give you a place to look) but when the stones don’t show anymore and the cemetery records are fragmentary to non-existante in the time frame you are looking for, the compilations are a best guess. You just keep working and making updates as you go.

    Like

I too, enjoyed this article. I started in the 90’s [computers, but no internet] and am currently doing a “go-over” of all my research. I’m now armed with ‘Evidence Explained’ because I wan’t great at sourcing properly [“Aunt Marie’s Letter” alone isn’t a good source citation LOL].
One problem I have is that I have is that I did’t have the parents listed for a 3x Great-Grandfather – despite all the trees that have the parents listed and trace the line back to the early 1600’s. Why? Because I can’t find actual proof those are his parents. People message me all the time telling me that so and so are his parents either because they are listed in a particular book [which I have never been able to find a copy] or because they “personally did the research, talked with family members, etc” but refuses to share the documents [that gentleman has sent messages every year for the last 10 years]. I finally simply put 3 asterisk marks after his surname with the words “See Notes/Comments” and I clearly stated his parents and beyond are pure speculation and not to be taken as fact. i also mentioned that anyone with documented proof [besides the book] is welcome to share that with me so that I can remove the asterisks from his name. That has stopped all messages except from the one gentleman who won’t give up.

Like

Great article.

Like

I always include the tales in my narratives and correspondence, and label them as such. Years ago, I was told that my great grandfather George had a freight business hauling goods from one side of a Wisconsin county to the other via horse drawn wagons. All census records show him as farmer, though, so I didn’t put much stock in the story.

Later, I found that his oldest child married a guy who was a horse buyer and trader. Census records show them living on adjacent farms.

Also, three of George’s sons married three sisters, who lived on the other side of the county. On a field trip, I drove the road between the two areas, where George lived and where the three sisters grew up, and discovered lots of hills with a high ridge and scenic pull-off. The trip would not be an easy trip for folks via a horse drawn wagon so maybe a decent business to be in way back then.

So, I am thinking there might be something to the tale. George would have access to horses and sons who could drive the wagons over the hills, so maybe make a little money. Those sons met the sisters they married on their trips.

By letting people know about this unproven tale, someone might find an old snippet of a newspaper advertising Cole Brothers Freight or something. Might be true, after all.

Like

Hey Dick – wondering if my comment disappeared into cyberspace lol

Like

    I haven’t deleted any comments in months except for obvious spam comments… there’s lots of those and I always delete them.

    I have approved everything else that is awaiting approval as of this time. If you entered the comment correctly, it should be visible to everyone now.

    Like

I like looking at other people’s family trees, but never use the info until I can verify with a primary source. This article also reminds me that I still need to contact a couple of people. Someone has two generations of my husband’s family mixed up (I’ve got birth, marriage and death records to confirm this). Someone else also has wrong info posted on my dad’s family, including wrong father for him, wrong birth and death dates, and a few other items on this family line. Granted, our name is Smith, but to me that means it’s even more important to double-check and triple-check the info.

Like

Wonderful article! I am in the process of double checking my tree now. I was careful but young when I started over 30 years ago. I have always tried to verify but often did not keep track of where or who gave me the info. I no longer try to correct people who have incorrect information, I have found it to be a waste of my time – those people do not care unfortunately. Not even when the mother is younger than the child! My tree is private I will not pass on any information i can’t back up. I was helping related people until one put stuff all over ancestry without permission, I found that very irritating.

Like

Excellent article. I started about 10 years ago – using the Internet of course – and used the old IGS records for a lot of my information. The links no longer work and I can’t find much of the information of FS any more. So I look for new proofs, so it goes.

Very good point about looking at the actual document. Especially those transcribed by Ancestry. Nice people with English as a second language don’t always guess right. And too often there is a wealth of information that wasn’t included.

My husband’s tree has a highly questionable father who was apparently chosen by the nice cousin who wrote the genealogy booklet so she could be related to a president. Must say that if I were doing that Millard Fillmore would not have been my first choice.

Like

Re: “Back in the 1980s, we also had thousands of self-published books … Those books were just as inaccurate as today’s online family trees.” And back in the 1890s, for that matter! Let’s always remember that the age of a source has little to do with its quality and reliability.

Like

If you want to avoid recording fairy tales in your family history, read Richard Hite’s book, Sustainable Genealogy.

Joe Garonzik

Like

My family had a Humphrey’s family lineage running back to the revolutionary war, that turned out to be about 90% wrong. It was even used in a D.A.R. Application and sadly some people still take it as gospel. Needless to say that this lineage is very bare bones, only direct relatives, no siblings and in the whole line only 1 marriage can be verified. I had spend years trying to flesh out the line to no avail. Turns out this “Fairy tale of a lineage” had led me down a blind alley.

But with the advent of DNA I kept finding links between my family and a completely different Humphreys family. I stepped back and re looked at the evidence and found not only DNA evidence but a good amount of circumstantial evidence to back up this new lineage. For example, 2 families turn up in the same county, in 3 different states in three consecutive censuses. The odds of that happening randomly are not very good. They appeared to be traveling together as a group.

So a fairy tale lineage led me right down a blind alley. But with the advent of DNA genealogy, I was put on the correct path.

Like

I agree with much of the comments made but I would like to add a small “tale” of my personal experience. The family story always said that my g-grandfather had stowed away while loading cattle on a ship in Bremen and came with a friend to the United States in about 1854. There were no ship records, of course, and his naturalization papers were not very helpful in place of origin. Only listing Prussia. After some historical research many years later, I have decided that much of this story is pretty correct as the Prussia did not allow emigration unless the male had served his military service, and my g-grandfather had not. So the story of “Jumping ship” seemed plausible. Also they were farmers in Germany owning their own land and Bremen was close to where the homestead was located. When he and his friend had arrived in the United States, they came to a family in Iowa who was known for providing housing and employment for German families who had immigrated. As I did more research I found that this family was from the general area in Germany where my family lived, so I think they knew each other. These little tidbits just helped make the story seem less like a ‘Fairy tale’.

The moral of my story, ” Research the facts in the family story and you might find a goldmine.” At least it makes those ancestors more real.

Like

Peter McEwan
peter.mcewan@rocketmail.com.
Most of my North America friends all claim their ancestors were on the Mayflower.She must have been a hell of a big ship.

Like

Excellent article, Dick. The incorrect facts, no documentation and people just copying others’ misinformation has always been my pet peeve! I have been researching WWII soldiers for over 3 years now, and some of the trees I have encountered so horribly incorrect that I have to walk away from the computer at times;~) I found one tree that had a mother who was “born” 10 years after her youngest child-hmm… I continued looking at all the trees with this individual named. I found 12 trees, just on Ancestry, with the same mistake. I sent a note to 2 or 3 of the tree owners that they might have a “typo” in their work – well, I heard from one who readily admitted that they just copied it from another tree. The others, not a word and the trees are still there.
One thing that you didn’t mention was when a tree has supporting information, listing parents, siblings, etc. but when you click on that supporting document it doesn’t even match what they have listed!?! People need to look at their own supporting documents to make sure they match their tree. When using one of those “History of the….Family” books I extract at least 5-6 facts and try to verify them. If there is no record found that matches those “facts” I know that the book shouldn’t be trusted!
My computer monitor has a sticker on it that says GIGO! Garbage in Garbage out! The information is only as good as the “researcher” who posted it.
Keep telling it like it is Dick, and keep up the great work!

Like

I have two nice family fairy tales involving castles which I would love to verify. One is in book of memoirs which mentions that my ancestor Vogele Lehman in Niederstetten died of fright on seeing the office of the local Schloss on fire. I have the date of her death from records, but the castle is rather an obscure one, so I haven’t managed to track it down – yet.
The other is that another ancestor who was repatriated to Germany from England in 1919 was housed in a castle. German records on this subject are a not easy to source.

Like

Wait…you mean my dear old Gramma was NOT a Cherokee Princess??

Like

Most of these posts reference people unwilling to change trees that have been shown to be wrong. Often I find it is a lack of computer skills that results in bad trees. I get responses from people that tell me they know some of their data is wrong but they don’t know how to fix it or duplications happened trying to add siblings. Sometimes people are only focused on the names and don’t see the incorrect date information. It’s not always blatant stubbornness. The stubbornness could be hiding they don’t want to take the time or don’t have the knowledge to fix the tree. Sometimes people abandon their screwed up trees and start over without deleting their bad tree. Sometimes people dabble in creating an online tree and then abandon Ancestry altogether as too difficult leaving an orphaned screwed up tree. Ancestry exasperates the problem with their shaky leaves and advertising. It would be great if dormant trees could go into a quarantine.

Like

After doing this for over two decades I’ve learned to be mostly tolerant of genealogical errors. They happen all the time for all kinds of reasons. Humans are messy, therefore genealogy will be messy. While I understand the reluctance to put nothing in a public online tree that’s not “absolutely verified,” here are two thoughts: 1) We still might be wrong. 2) This leaves no room for more experienced researchers to suggest theories, which are necessary for the research to advance. Online trees simply aren’t constructed very well to handle the many “probably, possibly, perhaps” scenarios. These trees can’t and shouldn’t be held to the GPS in the same way vetted, published research is.

Like

One of the earlier comments said that historical societies could be helpful. I have a 3rd great grandmother that I’m not sure about her father. I have a wedding document from New Hampshire that lists her name and her husband’s but not the parents. I did find a will for her father-in-law that the person that I THINK is her father witnessed. I have seen this person all over the internet as her father. I e-mailed the small town in NH where she died and asked if they knew who her father was. I got back a response that was “According to the internet it is XXX” Boy that was helpful.

Like

    The town answered you, they took the time to at least try to find an answer AND TOLD YOU WHERE THEY GOT THE ANSWER. Both of those things are important. If you can ever get to the town -check thier policy about viewing records before you go- you can look at the document yourself and perhaps look at a local newspaper on microfilm for other data. Depending on what you know about her you might look at the land records to see if she was given/purchased or if she (and or her husband) purchased property which might have come from the individual in question. Then probate of the possible father &/or mother. So many potential sources and, of course, never enough time.

    Like

Your article is so on point! I have used documents – census, birth, death, marriage, etc. – to create stories about my family members and include family lore from reliable sources where possible. I wrote a story about my great uncle whom my father shared stories about. I took the proof and wrote it around the family lore. Take a look at Find A Grave memorial 50175782 to see what can be created from family lore, based on facts.

Like

You are so on point! I have taken documents such as census, death, birth, marriage, military, etc., to create a story around family lore. See Find A Grave memorial 50175782 for the story I wrote about my great-uncle. My father told me many stories about him and I used facts to corroborate and build my story – no fairy tail here.

Like

I have been doing genealogy about 50 years. Have 2 DAR documented ancestors, and was the DAR registrar for My Chapter for 5 1/2 years so REALLY work to document. I wanted to document an ancestor with my surname (Fink) I finally documented Valentine Finck and put some of the info on line and was chastized for listing his wife as (Sarah Jane Mauck), when I got an email saying (Where do you get this), I promptly responded by supplying info from 3 tombstones listing WIFE OF vALENTINE FINK), 3 DIFFERENT WIVES FOR THREE DIFFERENT vALENTINES (all related , but I did get a chuckle about this because at first I thought Valentine must have been a real VALENTINE

Like

Carolyn Hutchinson Brown February 11, 2019 at 5:12 pm

I am listed as dead in an Ancestry tree, and the individual who owns the tree will not respond nor correct their tree. I also researched an ancestry couple and found that they put a notice in the local newspaper and sent out announcements showing the wrong date and state. I found the truth when I sent for a copy of the marriage license from the state and it was not there. I tried a close state and found the original certificate. When the person died I found that they modified their copy of the marriage certificate to match the newspaper and announcement. If I had gotten the copy of the certificate from them I would have recorded the wrong information.

Like

Unsourced trees, or those that give only another family tree as the source, are often worth examining, especially if you encounter a brick wall. These trees can provide useful hints that lead to successful research. Slightly off the subject but useful advice is: beware of the two individuals in different branches of the same family, with the same name, born only a few years apart. Early in my research I confounded two such individuals and entered the mistake in my tree. This error has been enshrined in family trees down through the ages regardless of how many times I send folks the corrected information.

Like

    Yes, I’ve been researching a tree where father and grandfather have the same name. At least one Ancestry tree had left out one generation, but it was still helpful because the discrepancy sent me to their birth and death certificates and I was able to sort them out myself.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Name and email address are required. Your email address will not be published.

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <pre> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: