How Not to Ancestry

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I just ran into an accepted Sons of the American Revolution application for the service of Zechariah Landrum, son of Samuel Landrum, son of Thomas Landrum and Nancy Bell. Samuel, the supposed father of the Revolutionary war soldier, was born in 1887. Additionally no son Samuel is in Thomas's will - although several trees have him as Thomas's son, I can find no evidence that he was and considerable circumstantial evidence to the contrary.

Zechariah's find a grave is very big on his proven service. Okay, possibly his service happened - but only if literally nothing else on his application did and he was a completely different person. Did anyone even read this thing? And now the application is in the database as a "source" being used by other people to prove things.
These days the DAR is pretty demanding of proof but that wasn't always the case. Many of the old applications are deficient of any real documentation - they are often just claims or statements that so-and-so served in some unit. Sometimes there will actually be a John Smith listed as having been in the proclaimed unit but no proof that the applicant's John Smith is the same guy. Same name, must be our guy. And as you point out, those applications are just copied ad nauseum as "proof" by others. If you go to the DAR database site and look at those old applications many now say they are no longer accepted as proof but it doesn't say that on Ancestry.
 

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I just ran into an accepted Sons of the American Revolution application for the service of Zechariah Landrum, son of Samuel Landrum, son of Thomas Landrum and Nancy Bell. Samuel, the supposed father of the Revolutionary war soldier, was born in 1887. Additionally no son Samuel is in Thomas's will - although several trees have him as Thomas's son, I can find no evidence that he was and considerable circumstantial evidence to the contrary.

Zechariah's find a grave is very big on his proven service. Okay, possibly his service happened - but only if literally nothing else on his application did and he was a completely different person. Did anyone even read this thing? And now the application is in the database as a "source" being used by other people to prove things.
I belong to the the SAR and believe me it was an ordeal getting in. I've run across those old apps and you're right, I don't think they checked them. My process was nearly six months after I submitted it to a sponsor. I had my third gg's will abstract listing my second gg. There was a semicolon between he and his wife's name and the sponsor advised getting more documentation before submitting the app. They apparently learned their lesson and it's quite the process now.
 

rbasin

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I just ran into an accepted Sons of the American Revolution application for the service of Zechariah Landrum, son of Samuel Landrum, son of Thomas Landrum and Nancy Bell. Samuel, the supposed father of the Revolutionary war soldier, was born in 1887. Additionally no son Samuel is in Thomas's will - although several trees have him as Thomas's son, I can find no evidence that he was and considerable circumstantial evidence to the contrary.

Zechariah's find a grave is very big on his proven service. Okay, possibly his service happened - but only if literally nothing else on his application did and he was a completely different person. Did anyone even read this thing? And now the application is in the database as a "source" being used by other people to prove things.
Yep. I think it may be best to find a buddy, and you do hers/his, and let them do your tree.
 
Joined
May 11, 2015
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116
As I've mentioned often, I use Ancestry all the time, not only for my own genealogy, but for researching lots of individuals that I'm not related to. Ancestry is extremely valuable for easily accessing all sorts of basic records -- census rolls, birth and death records, and so on.

The weakness of using Ancestry, though, is in relying on the family trees compiled by other users. Some of them are genuinely useless, and contain data that is clearly incorrect. Nevertheless, it's out there, and can easily lead you astray in your own research.

I came across this example today. It's an entry for a woman who, according to this tree, was born in about 1520. Her father was born in 1537, and her mother in 1525. Her son was born in 1530, when she was ten:

bewareancestry.jpg


There's a lot of this foolishness floating around on Ancestry, so be careful, and look closely at what you import into your own family tree.
Absolutely correct
 
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I wish I had y'all's skill at this. Some of you have relatives on your tree from the dang Middle Ages and I don't even know how to get further back than my grandparents. :nah disagree:
When people say that, take it with a grain of salt. For records to be intact and going back that far would be remarkable and suspect.
 
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I like Ancestry, but I'm back to the free version until I can afford it again. It was very helpful in finding info on all of my grandparents that I didn't have, and further back for one grandparent especially, but yes the difference in spellings and the obviously incorrect things are twitch worthy. On a side note, I ordered my dad's birth certificate from my home state of Michigan and they have his birthday off by a day. I didn't correct it yet. I have his death certificate with the correct date from Florida so maybe that will be enough proof for the state to change it. It's ironic, because it's a death certificate error that's holding me up in establishing a line to my CSA ancestor if I was inclined to join any kin organizations, so I should get this fixed if I can as we all know the joys, as well as the headaches for family researchers are in the details.
 
Joined
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Years ago when I was just getting into it I used to try and contact people on Ancestry when they'd mistakenly put members of my family in their trees. Rarely did I get a response but when I did they'd argue with me using some bizarre rationalization as to why they were right and I was wrong about my grandparents. I have one great aunt whose first name was Ardor and on one census she was recorded as a male. It's amazing how many people copied "him" into their trees, ignoring all the other censuses where her sex was recorded correctly (and a whole lot of other records) and married "him" off to various women. None of those I contacted corrected their trees. I soon learned to not waste my time trying to help anybody (unless I was asked; only happened once). Based on my experience there I'd guess not more than ten percent of the trees are really researched. I'd even bet that at least fifty percent are just junk, just cobbled together from pieces of junk copied from other people's trees.

It's like a lot of other things: just because anybody has access doesn't mean they know what they're doing. Most people don't understand how to invest their retirement money either and you'd think maybe that would be important enough to maybe at least buy a book but apparently not. Same with the family tree.
I had to chuckle when I read your post. I can identify...when I first joined Ancestry and a novice with genealogy
I followed a "Wright" family line that lead directly to me being related to the last Royal Governor of Georgia, James
Wright. Told my Dad (91 ys) and he told everyone he knew. Figuring it too good to be true I researched and found
the Royal Gov's son died without issue. My Dad being sorta a "snob" I just left that line alone and didn't correct on
Ancestry. Eventually I got an Ancestry email from a lady telling me to do my homework and my "Wright" line was
wrong, etc..I apologized and after my Dad passed I finally corrected that part of the family tree:smile:
 
Joined
Jun 1, 2017
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I had to chuckle when I read your post. I can identify...when I first joined Ancestry and a novice with genealogy
I followed a "Wright" family line that lead directly to me being related to the last Royal Governor of Georgia, James
Wright. Told my Dad (91 ys) and he told everyone he knew. Figuring it too good to be true I researched and found
the Royal Gov's son died without issue. My Dad being sorta a "snob" I just left that line alone and didn't correct on
Ancestry. Eventually I got an Ancestry email from a lady telling me to do my homework and my "Wright" line was
wrong, etc..I apologized and after my Dad passed I finally corrected that part of the family tree:smile:
Nothing to apologize for. If she's so angry about it, she can do the homework herself and politely inform you of the results.
 

bdtex

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I am letting my Fold3 subscription expire at the end of this month because I seldom go there anymore. Friday,I downloaded everything off there on my 4 Civil War ancestors that I hadn't already downloaded. Afterwards,I went in to Ancestry for awhile to look for more records on my ancestor in the 40th Alabama Infantry Regiment. Found some really great stuff in Alabama Pension Records that I had not seen before. He received a pension from 1905 until his death in 1916. Also found a letter from the Alabama Pension Commission stating that he was discharged from the CSA Army in April 1865. First record I have found regarding his discharge.
 

WJC

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The weakness of using Ancestry, though, is in relying on the family trees compiled by other users. Some of them are genuinely useless, and contain data that is clearly incorrect. Nevertheless, it's out there, and can easily lead you astray in your own research.
There's a lot of this foolishness floating around on Ancestry, so be careful, and look closely at what you import into your own family tree.
You are not alone. Ancestry has just about 'cornered the market' on genealogical information by absorbing other sites.
At the same time, it has 'dumbed down' its site so that is much more difficult to do actual, serious research. Instead, Ancestry is based on copying other's work, which often is flawed. As you point out, the search feature is ridiculously inept. Search for someone living in the United States who died in 1806 and one gets results of people living in Britain who died in 1937, or persons born in China who died in 1923!
Recently I suggested a better site to a colleague here, only to learn that it has been purchased by Ancestry, who kept only the data base, not the user-friendly search features!
It is what it is. And for now, we researchers will just have to make the best of what we have.
 
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WJC

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No worries. Being able to document your lineage back to Otto the Flatulent isn't all that impressive.
According to statistical studies I've seen, anyone living today whose ancestry is European is a descendant of Charlemagne. Churchill wrote in History of the English Speaking Peoples, Volume I, that if one can trace his/her ancestry back to the time of Henry VIII, they are descended from Alfred the Great.
 
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Sheesh....all that work to digitize and to make these resources available in one pay location instead of 30 different ones isn't enough for some people I guess. Maybe they should just take them all offline and force people to pay others or to travel hundreds of miles to look at old paper copies. :rolleyes:

I get it...the site isn't perfect. But for crying out loud we get so wound up in a sense of entitlement that often overlook the value in something.
 
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Dec 31, 2016
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I have a rule of thumb about other people's trees. When I get the little leaf hint that someone has a tree with a common ancestor, I go and take a look. If there is NO DOCUMENTATION I click away fast. Now, I might be missing some relatives who actually get their documentation from a live person or a family Bible, but those can be slippery too. I use these other trees as source material for finding my own documentation. Often I will find censuses I've missed or links to Find A Grave or books in Google books. I NEVER cite another tree as a source for anyone in my tree and as I made this mistake a few times early on, I'm gradually deleting all that too. AND at the very least, I use the dates they give to generate my own searches, which in turn gives me the correct documentation.
I talk about this a bit on my blog:
leaftwigandstem.blogspot.com
There are a few posts about how I found some of what I found and my pet peeves like One World Tree. UGH!
 
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In my research, DNA testing has really helped me confirm the data in my tree and make
corrections where needed. The DNA matching feature with other users who have the
same ancestor in their tree you do has helped me solve lots of issues that come up with
relying on family trees from other members. DNA matching helped me discover that I
am a distant cousin of George Custer and a 4x cousin to Charles Venable, Robert Lee's
aide de camp and member of his staff.
 
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I only started this journey about one year ago. I made every rookie mistake known by accepting leafs. My tree is such a mess of incorrect information I don't even reference it or visit it.
But I have documented my ancestors migration from 1705 Pennsylvania, through Va, and into South Carolina where they stayed from 1790-1890 and then westward to the pacific. They played some roll in the revolution and even have a monument and museum display in Va. a bit of a controversial roll in 1779 when it appears one of my ancestors took up arms as an ally to the Cherokee and sided with the British, he never made it home from Kettle Creek. His name was James Boyd. He was the older brother of my ancestor Robert. Both were convicted of treason in 1882 and all their lands forfeit to the new Government. This cost Robert a great deal, disenchanted with the new government he slipped into the hills of the old 96 district where he raised a large family and spent his days making whisky and avoiding contact with every government official around. His only paper legacy are land deeds to his sons. One of which was my GrGr Grandfather Warren Boyd 1st. Lt. Companies B and K 2nd regiment of Rifles South Carolina, where he served the duration of the war. Sure wish I could find any letters he might have written home to his wife and boys back in Pickens.
 
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The weakness of using Ancestry, though, is in relying on the family trees compiled by other users. Some of them are genuinely useless, and contain data that is clearly incorrect. Nevertheless, it's out there, and can easily lead you astray in your own research.

I came across this example today. It's an entry for a woman who, according to this tree, was born in about 1520. Her father was born in 1537, and her mother in 1525. Her son was born in 1530, when she was ten:

bewareancestry.jpg


I totally agree! I always have to research some of the research! It is so easy to get caught up inputting info without even looking!
 

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