You finally discover that name of the ancestor who has been deceiving you for months. Somebody else linked it on their tree, and through the miracle of the internet, you’ve finally managed to find the next generation in that brick wall branch.
But is it actually your ancestor?
It is SO IMPORTANT to cross check your information when creating a family tree, if possible. Having multiple sources confirming the same information will make the information more reliable, thus making your search definitive rather than circumstantial.
An example for you? Sure why not.
Many family trees created by others on popular websites such as Ancestry, My Heritage or Family Search are often full of errors. They may be unintentional, they may be estimated guesses, they may be typos or they may be made up. Unfortunately without the proof to back it up, you’re simply taking their word.
Someone contacted me recently looking for any information I had on one particular branch on my family tree. Our connecting ancestor, a great great grandmother, had no recorded death date. The person who contacted me gave me a death date in the late 1940s, which excited me. I went back to review my tree, and I was immediately let down. According to my tree, with the definitive records to back it up, the spouse of this particular great grandmother, my great great grandfather, remarried after her death in the year 1898. The marriage record I had for this marriage stated that he was a widower which meant that the information given to me by this contact was not accurate. I promptly updated the information on Family Search (where she had obtained the information) so the misinformation wouldn’t be spread around.
Using multiple sources like gravestones, census documents, birth or death records, places of work and photographs will give you the most conclusive answers. The more evidence you have, the more likely you are to finding out the truth about your heritage.
Another issue that can be problematic when identifying your loved ones is that the people of the past had a habit of naming their children after one another. So when you’re looking for your relative “James,” there’s bound to be at least four or five tied to that specific line of the tree you’re looking at. Make sure you get concrete evidence of the parents of that person and their dates of birth and death to accurately pin point who they are.
It can be tedious cross checking all this information, but it will give you the correct parentage and bloodline to the history of your family. Another way to accurately figure out your bloodline? DNA sampling.
The DNA kits offer the opportunity to discover your lineage through data that doesn’t lie – your DNA. It takes your information, and gives you an accurate description of where your family came from, potential matches across the world and so much more. I have yet to do it, but I definitely want to get on it as the end of the year grows near.
Whatever you decide to do to confirm your lineage, make sure you have multiple sources to back it up! This helps not only you, but everyone else receiving information from you who are trying to build their trees as well.