Monday, October 29, 2018

It's Not a Rabbit Hole when It's Mytreeitis

FamilySearch sends me notices when someone has changed one of my ancestors an individual in a family I'm working on in FamilySearch.  Of course, I can't just let it go.  I must check and see what's been done, no matter that I'm not currently working on that individual or family. 

(On my mytreeitis soapbox here:  I'm fine when people add information and sources to clarify and give detail to an individual on Family Tree.  I'm not happy when people delete information I've added, delete people I've added, or merge people I've added.  (I already spend too much time researching to be sure the person should be added in the first place.)  I'm especially not happy when people use an 1850, 1860, or 1870 census to add relationships that may not exist, particularly parents and parents-in-law.  Let's do more research, folks, before claiming an individual as a parent when no indication of parentage exists in a record, especially before adding the relationship to a public tree.  In fact, let's do more research in general before adding or attaching individuals in Family Tree.  Rant over, stepping down from my soapbox.)

The person in question this time is Jacob Saylor (with spelling variations including Sailer, Sailor, Seyler, etc.).

The ID number for the Jacob Saylor is LHNJ-6FD.  He is the father of Catherine (Saylor) Froman.  Whoever made changes merged this Jacob with another, giving Jacob a new ID number.  Some of the attached information was correct but not all.  I know that because I had to compare my own sources with the sources attached to Jacob.  It almost felt like going down a rabbit hole but in search of what I already knew but didn't remember.  I "resurrected" Jacob Saylor, LHNJ-6FD.  We'll see how that goes. 

Another researcher attached parents to Jacob Saylor's daughter, Catherine, ID 9K6G-YFP.  The attached resource was for a New Jersey marriage between Catherine Sailor and S. M. Denney.  The bride's parents' first names, Jacob and Elizabeth, were correct but Catherine did not marry S. M. Denney and neither she nor her parents, Jacob and Elizabeth (Shaefer) Saylor, lived in New Jersey.  And I didn't even look at dates....  Catherine married John Froman, became a widow in 1870, died as Catherine Froman, and was buried in Sandy Lake Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.

Some things I've learned from this experience
  • Check the "watch" star for direct-line ancestors on Family Tree to receive notifications of changes to the individuals.
  • When FamilySearch sends notices of changes in Family Tree, check them.
  • Attach a source to an individual in Family Tree as soon as possible (after doing whatever is necessary to confirm it's the correct individual). 
  • Ask RootsMagic to add Family Tree ID numbers to ancestors and use them to compare to any changes on Family Tree.
  • When others have added individuals and sources to Family Tree look at them as possibilities to further your own research.

Do you ever have problems with Family Tree?  Do you ever end up down a rabbit hole confirming  others' additions?  Do you have mytreeitis?


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  1. Oh, yes. I do occasionally merge, but normally only if I'm absolutely sure the two are the same, for instance have the same parents or enough identifying markers to know that it is the same person. However, I don't delete things. A friend had her line, through her grandmother, all the way back to Charlemagne and someone came in and deleted it all! She put it all back up, with weeks of work, and the same person deleted it again! She wrote and asked that he not mess with her family tree. He still does. There should be a way of stopping that, but the chat person says no, so I told her to make sure she keeps it all in ancestry, too, so she doesn't have to keep going down that rabbit hole. My pet peeve is things like the person who married my grandmother to a man with the same name as my grandfather ... only he was seven years old! It only takes a minute to check dates and use logic!

    1. Thanks for sharing your approach and the experience of your friend, Susan. I think Family Tree is a challenge because long-time researchers with plenty of documentation who have taken great care are met with inexperienced researchers or sometimes name seekers who are less thoughtful and caring. Sometimes new researchers look at only one or two parts of a document for evidence. It's sometimes frustrating.

  2. And this is why I don’t do a shared tree.

    1. I would not do a shared tree, Wendy, except because of church membership I have to use FamilySearch's Family Tree. It can be a bear sometimes. I know we can usually communicate with other collaborators via email but not all respond.


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