First published on February 5, 2016.
Sorry! I haven’t posted for awhile. I was starting a new tree, and got kind of sucked into that. It’s nice to start new trees on ancestry.com because I can avoid the mistakes I made with my first trees. The biggest mistake I’ve encountered when making my trees is importing information from other trees. Sure this information might be correct but there’s no telling where that information came from. What I do now is check each tree that has been “hinted” to me, to see what sources they got their information from. Maybe this isn’t important to everyone, but I like to have an original source for all of my ancestry “data”.
Here’s an example: James Kelly, my fifth-great-grandfather was born some time (give or take 10 years) around 1760. I don’t know his actual birth year but there is a American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI) record for a James Kelly born in Massachusetts in 1760. The AGBI is a huge data base of genealogical information from genealogy records and family histories. On ancestry, this just shows as an index only record. The problem with this record is that I’m sure there was more than one James Kelly born in the state of Massachusetts in 1760. Furthermore, I can’t collaborate this information with any James Kelly in the Massachusetts Vital Records. That doesn’t mean that this James Kelly didn’t exist, it means that I can’t find any cross references to his birth or any information to narrow down his birthplace to a specific town.
Since I couldn’t find a record of a James Kelly born in this time frame, I also knew I was going to have a hard time finding out who his parents were. But when I looked at the other trees that had my James Kelly, his parents were listed as George and Margit Kelly. Now George and Margit Kelly lived in about the same area where it would make sense that James was born and they had children that were listed in the Massachusetts Vital Records but as I said earlier James does not show up in those records. Again this doesn’t mean that James was never born but it could mean that they lived in another town when James was born and those records were lost. However I can’t verify that they were his parents through the Vital Records, and when I went to go check to see what source that this information came from, I found that it came from another tree, and then another tree and then another tree. That’s a problem I have with ancestry.com is that it is so easy to import other trees, but what ends up happening is that mistakes get compounded upon. I’m not saying that this is a mistake but even through searching archives.org, I found no genealogy that would back up this claim, so I have no idea where the information comes from.
So I guess, the moral of this post is be careful if you use ancestry.com. Make sure you check the sources of your information, and if you are going to import another tree into yours, maybe jot down some of the information first and see if you can quickly verify it, or check the sources and records of the other trees.