Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sunday Search: Unintentional Intentional Errors


Every once in a while I will receive a message through my Ancestry.com account regarding some of the information in my family tree. Sometimes it is about documents, photos, or certain details that I have discovered elsewhere and uploaded to the website which I am happy to share and discuss with anyone who contacts me… you never know how you might be related. However, most of the time, the questions and corrections are regarding the very tips of the limbs that I have yet to fully research. In these instances I reply letting them know that the research has yet to be done and the information is stemming from scant documents that have been uncovered. This is usually followed by an invitation to share any information they might have on that individual or, as has been the case a few times, the correct name that should inscribed on that leaf.

This all comes down to how each of us use Ancestry as a genealogical research tool. While many people refuse to enter information in to their tree until they have verified the content, I prefer to use the website to both record known facts and figures but also theorize as to those names that may consist of the next generation. Sometimes it can be stemming from information culled from documents and other times it is a much more general estimation given the age of children, where subsequent generations lived, and sometimes the information that has been passed down in the family.

Even the most basic of estimations have sometimes led to the information that I have been looking for. Many times I have entered the surname and approximate year of birth to find only a handful of possible people who could fit into my tree. After looking at all the records available, I was able to not only find the right name but verify that, yes, they are my ancestor. All it takes is that small detail and a little bit of deduction in order to begin chipping away at that wall. This is the process that has worked for me and has kept me somewhat organized in my research thought process over the years.

Of course, with this being my process it leaves a number of assumptions wilting under the sun on the end of the branch until I am able to make the time to prune them but I know that the information is there and I don’t have to worry about retracing some of my steps over and over again when I find the rare moments to search for that next generation. Again, while not a process for everyone, it is the one that has worked best for me so far. Now if I could only be so organized with all the photos, documents, and notes cluttering my office.