How Not to Ancestry

Zella

First Sergeant
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I look at other people's family trees on there out of nosiness, but I always check for documentation--and rarely find it. (Learned my lesson the hard way when I first started using Ancestry. My tree was such a mess that I had to just start a new family tree.) In looking at family trees on there, I have found quite a few people who had children before they were born!

One of the craziest I found lately was one of my g-g-g-g grandpas. His grandfather named his sons names like James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. And then 2 of those sons named all their sons those names. So, my g-g-g-g had multiple uncles, cousins, and brothers all with the same 3 names!

Fortunately, the birth and death dates and counties of residence are distinct enough that you can parse who is who, but I found where people had just randomly added all of the Civil War service records for that name for one of the Thomas Jeffersons, without ever thinking about how the info was contradicting itself. They had him serving in two different states at the same time!
 

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Sorry, couldn't figure out how to turn this horizontal. Anyway, this is one reason why I really like Ancestry. I'll check every now and then to see if any new content has been added on ancestors I'm researching. I hit the jackpot on this one. Someone had posted a picture of a Confederate reunion that included a picture of my 2xg-grand uncle, James P Sloan. He was in Co. F, 14 SC Inf. Regt. and seated second from the left.
Now that I have an actual photo I think I can identify him in the bottom picture. It's wonderful to be able
to put a face to a name!!

1907.jpg
CONFEDERATE VETERANS - CO. F 14 REG REUNION PHOTO.jpg
 
Joined
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I am not sure this is the MOST beneficial place to post this, but since I use Ancestry to get there, I thought I'd pass it along.
Through my public library database online I found this:
http://asp6new.alexanderstreet.com.proxy1.athensams.net/cwdb/
I have gone back through my tree and isolated out all the men born between about 1820 and 1845. I used the Database in the link to look for each one. Then in Ancestry in the Gallery section I created a new "story" for each solider. I titled each one as a "service capsule for ____ ____" (name) I copied and pasted the database information into this story and included a link, a date and other documentation. Although Ancestry has good records for civil war service, I found that some records had pieces and not the whole picture. So now in the person's timeline there is a Military heading linked to the Ancestry records and under Media a link to the little capsule I created for each man. And BTW some of the records in the linked database have pictures!
 
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Silver run Md carroll county
I am not sure this is the MOST beneficial place to post this, but since I use Ancestry to get there, I thought I'd pass it along.
Through my public library database online I found this:
http://asp6new.alexanderstreet.com.proxy1.athensams.net/cwdb/
I have gone back through my tree and isolated out all the men born between about 1820 and 1845. I used the Database in the link to look for each one. Then in Ancestry in the Gallery section I created a new "story" for each solider. I titled each one as a "service capsule for ____ ____" (name) I copied and pasted the database information into this story and included a link, a date and other documentation. Although Ancestry has good records for civil war service, I found that some records had pieces and not the whole picture. So now in the person's timeline there is a Military heading linked to the Ancestry records and under Media a link to the little capsule I created for each man. And BTW some of the records in the linked database have pictures!
I would recommend extending your dates to 1810 and 1850
 

Karen Lips

1st Lieutenant
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3,673
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Waxahachie,Texas
Sorry, couldn't figure out how to turn this horizontal. Anyway, this is one reason why I really like Ancestry. I'll check every now and then to see if any new content has been added on ancestors I'm researching. I hit the jackpot on this one. Someone had posted a picture of a Confederate reunion that included a picture of my 2xg-grand uncle, James P Sloan. He was in Co. F, 14 SC Inf. Regt. and seated second from the left.
Now that I have an actual photo I think I can identify him in the bottom picture. It's wonderful to be able
to put a face to a name!!

View attachment 195884 View attachment 195891
I wish their memories had been recorded.
 

James N.

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Sorry, couldn't figure out how to turn this horizontal. Anyway, this is one reason why I really like Ancestry. I'll check every now and then to see if any new content has been added on ancestors I'm researching. I hit the jackpot on this one. Someone had posted a picture of a Confederate reunion that included a picture of my 2xg-grand uncle, James P Sloan. He was in Co. F, 14 SC Inf. Regt. and seated second from the left.
Now that I have an actual photo I think I can identify him in the bottom picture. It's wonderful to be able
to put a face to a name!!
1907.jpg
 
Joined
Jan 12, 2019
Messages
20
Location
Texas
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.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Texas
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.
I've seen this more times than I care to count and you're exactly right. It's the main reason I took my tree private. Ancestry is really an exercise in correct data entry and search techniques rather than true research. So much still lies in libraries etc. (the good old fashioned way). But folks are too lazy to make the trip let alone drive across the country to research. Never trust another tree at Ancestry that's only support documentation is the clue "Ancestry Trees". Green leafs are not proof. They are clues to prove. If you can't find it at Ancestry go to the LDS site Family Search. Use the "wildcard" search technique which involves the first three letters of a name followed by an asterisk. This allows for different spellings to be covered. Check Ancestry's Card Catalog for databases they retain. Every county in the country has a genealogy web site that has varying degrees of information, some extensive, some not. For the Civil War check Fold3.com and even more importantly the regimental histories in book form of the actual units. These were most often published within 30 years of the end of the war while other modern editions are continually published. And of course the "O.R." is most valuable. Check University library websites both on-line and in person. And believe it or not check eBay. I've found two documents signed by my actual civil war relative for sale there.
 
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I use Ancestry a lot. I check out the Trees but as you say you have to be careful. I have found several mistakes. I even found mistake for my father. I wrote person and told him what was wrong and that I would know as I was his daughter. The person wrote back I must be wrong.

I just check everything and try to get supporting evidence to back up everything I put about my family.
OMG! Challenging the accuracy of someone's daughter? UGH!:thumbsdown:
 

WJC

Brigadier General
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Ancestry has become virtually useless. It is truly an example of 'garbage in, garbage out'. The management is less concerned with accuracy than volume. Use it with the utmost care!
 
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I've seen this more times than I care to count and you're exactly right. It's the main reason I took my tree private. Ancestry is really an exercise in correct data entry and search techniques rather than true research. So much still lies in libraries etc. (the good old fashioned way). But folks are too lazy to make the trip let alone drive across the country to research. Never trust another tree at Ancestry that's only support documentation is the clue "Ancestry Trees". Green leafs are not proof. They are clues to prove. If you can't find it at Ancestry go to the LDS site Family Search. Use the "wildcard" search technique which involves the first three letters of a name followed by an asterisk. This allows for different spellings to be covered. Check Ancestry's Card Catalog for databases they retain. Every county in the country has a genealogy web site that has varying degrees of information, some extensive, some not. For the Civil War check Fold3.com and even more importantly the regimental histories in book form of the actual units. These were most often published within 30 years of the end of the war while other modern editions are continually published. And of course the "O.R." is most valuable. Check University library websites both on-line and in person. And believe it or not check eBay. I've found two documents signed by my actual civil war relative for sale there.
But wouldn't having your "accurate" tree public lead others to the correct data? I do get amazed when simple math regarding birth dates can easily clear up mistakes.
 

ARW

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I ran into one like that yesterday. I have a dead end with an Isaac b. 1799. I have no idea who his father is but there are at least three listed in Ancestry. I have documents that I got from County courthouses and Historical Societies 40+ years ago proving the line to him. Yesterday a new hint showed up. Someone had him with a family back to England. Long story short she has two Issacs that she added as one. She has him married to two women at the same time, living in two states at the same time on three different census and has him buried as the one in my family. Oh ya she has all the kids, over 20, attached to him. And all her sources are Ancestry Trees. Ahhhhhhh NO!
 
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But wouldn't having your "accurate" tree public lead others to the correct data? I do get amazed when simple math regarding birth dates can easily clear up mistakes.
It would and has many times in the past. I was one of the first members at the site. But it didn't come close to correcting the errors. Another interesting point is the lack of gratitude by a great part of members. Not even a simple thank you. And lastly, at a site where people are supposedly trying to connect to family, a great many members refuse to believe some discoveries and will not communicate. This has happened more than once when an illicit affair or unknown marriage or abandonment has occurred without their knowledge.
 
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It would and has many times in the past. I was one of the first members at the site. But it didn't come close to correcting the errors. Another interesting point is the lack of gratitude by a great part of members. Not even a simple thank you. And lastly, at a site where people are supposedly trying to connect to family, a great many members refuse to believe some discoveries and will not communicate. This has happened more than once when an illicit affair or unknown marriage or abandonment has occurred without their knowledge.
Understood. I joined way back in 1999 and took a hiatus for a few years and went back on. You're correct in how ungrateful people are. I'd be willing to bet that many people, especially now with the cheap DNA test, do the doubting and refuse to communicate after they find out that they haven't descended from royalty or a historic hero. :giggle:
 
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Understood. I joined way back in 1999 and took a hiatus for a few years and went back on. You're correct in how ungrateful people are. I'd be willing to bet that many people, especially now with the cheap DNA test, do the doubting and refuse to communicate after they find out that they haven't descended from royalty or a historic hero. :giggle:
I don't want to appear as though I'm stingy with research however. I've invited many more folks to view my tree than have ever asked to see it. This after having view their tree, seeing their dedication and offering to steer them in the right direction. But all who use the site are faced with other researchers looking for the same person. If many folks have propagated a serious error then the rest will go with the majority. Case in point: A recently discovered ancestor has 10 other researchers who have trusted the first researcher's incorrect data and piled on. I'm the only one that has it positively correct. I'm in the distinct minority so how could I be right :smile:
 
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Ancestry is always the place I start when researching just because there's so many basic documents available in one place. Trees are also often helpful just to see if others have somehow found something I missed (e.g. that census record I didn't find because of the misspelling of the name). While I've not had a statistically good return on messages the answers that I did get over the years made it worth my while. I've also had good luck lately contacting relatives of people whose monuments I've restored.

That said, I do think most trees on Ancestry are largely junk and put together by people that don't know how to do basic research. I long ago quit trying to notify other tree owners about the mistakes they've incorporated regarding my ancestors; never got a response or a correction back when I used to try and help. That said, there's also the ones that use all the materials grandma had in that big box (that contained lots of things not available anywhere else) that can actually be very useful.

As has been stated, a real researcher starts with Ancestry, gathers the low-hanging fruit, and then moves on to look at historical and genealogical societies, libraries of record, various newspaper search engines, well-constructed Google searches, the National Archives, state archives, and numerous other similar sources. The internet has made much a lot easier but there's way more 'stuff' not available on the internet than available. Some things are only available if you are able to actually go and search dusty shelves. Because that's just not possible for me in most cases I've actually hired researchers to look for specific things and it was almost always worth every penny. I located, for instance, the farm where my grandfather was born - which was in the family for over 150 years - by having someone search local tax records. That led to me contacting some local folks and I learned some interesting things. I also got to speak to the current owner who sent me pictures of his barn which was build by my people (all wood peg construction).

Anyway, Ancestry and other sites are good resources but are cluttered with debris so you just have to learn how to find the diamonds in the muck. You know, a baby/bathwater sort of thing.
 

ARW

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I agree with @John Winn ancestry is great for low hanging fruit. I have also been able to get a lot of documents that help the cause. I have even found a few folks I didn't know about. I just hate to see people think that a leaf is the Holy Grail. As my Father in law said a carpenter uses every tool in his toolbox at one time or another.
 



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