4 January 2015

#52Ancestors - week 1

I read today about a 52 week blog challenge - writing about a different ancestor every week. A link in the GeneaBloggers Daily newsletter took me to the blog No Story Too Small:

I'm going to give it a go and see if I can do it. Here are the challenges for January as listed on No Story Too Small:

Week 1, Fresh start

Week 2, King
Week 3, Tough woman
Week 4, Closest to your birthday
Week 5, Plowing through

Of course, the themes for each week are optional, but they are likely to help me actually think about people on my family tree.

Week 1, Fresh Start is easy - and something I started just yesterday.....

Dad's Scottish of the family side, while research has been expensive from across the pond, for the most part it has been relatively "easy". Because I seem to be one of the few people in the known universe doing any research on this family, I don't have to sift through matched family trees and determine whether the information is correct. I have to do my own research, rely on my own detective skills, pay for my own certificates, talk to my own relatives etc. Any errors on Dad's side are my own.

Any smart matches suggested for my online trees for Dad's side are without fail, not matches. Even when someone has added "my" relatives to their tree, I find, after checking with them (or looking at their tree if it is public), that my relatives don't belong to them. Here are 2 examples:

A tree containing my Dad
I was matched with someone who had both my Dad and his mother on her tree - extremely unusual, but not entirely impossible (I have a 1/2 brother I have never met and who seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth - maybe this tree belonged to him or his children? I could only hope). So I connect to this tree and do a quick look. The owner of the tree had the "wrong" parents for my grandmother. My Dad's mother is the only grandparent I have ever met, so I knew this other tree had incorrect information on it.

A quick check of the Scotland's People site (and a few dollars later) and I found that a girl of the same name as my Grandmother, born in the same district, born in the same year, with the parents listed by the other tree's owner was really the girl she was after. I also found this girl's marriage (of course not to my grandfather) and some of their children. I wrote (nicely I hope) to the owner of this matched tree with all the information and the certificate numbers so she could adjust her tree.

However, to end a long story, the owner of the other tree never changed her tree. She still has my Dad and Grandmother listed on her tree even though they don't belong. I eventually had to put a block on being matched to her tree.

The McLuckies
I am pretty protective of the McLuckie clan. There aren't that many of them about and many of them are "mine". One of my McLuckies married a Hunter. They had a son called Robert. Robert, according to the 1881 census, was married to a lady called Mary (They were living with his parents on the census, so that was the "easy" part). Do you have any idea how many Robert Hunters there are in Glasgow? (I have 10 in my tree just linked to this family).

Can you imagine trying to do online search for a marriage of a Robert Hunter when you have to pay to view every certificate to make sure you have the right Robert Hunter (checking parents on the certificate). I can't remember how many months it took me or how many dollars - but I know it was a LOT! I remember clearly the Eureka! moment when I finally found the right certificate on the Scotland's People website.

So now imagine you are matched to another tree that has this Robert in it and then the family going back through the McLuckie Clan. I was pretty excited. Again, this tree was public, so I went straight to it. They had "my" Robert married to the wrong Mary - wrong parents, wrong age, wrong country of birth. It was all just wrong - even the surname, though phonetically the same, was wrong.

I emailed the owner of the tree and asked if he could clarify his information. He told me that he'd added the info from someone else's tree a long time ago, had no idea where the info had come from and wasn't going to change it even after I emailed him back with the correct info (which would mean him having to delete all the McLuckie clan)

I was so disappointed - and again, I've had to block being matched with his tree 'cause it just frustrates/angers/saddens me.

Anyway, that has nothing to do with the topic of fresh start - but everything to do with a fresh start.

Dobson/Farleys - a fresh start
I too am guilty of adding information to my tree that someone else has "researched" - for my mother's English side. English/Welsh records are much harder to research (well for me anyway). While you can look up information on various websites, you can't actually view any of the BMD certificates online. You have to order them from the GRO. It is very expensive (over 9 pounds a certificate which currently equates to about $18 for me) and the wait is weeks. So when you get a few certificates that are for the wrong person 'cause you've had to guess which one to order given your limited budget, you pretty much give up and trust the distant relatives you've been in contact with have been diligent with their research and record keeping.

But lately I've not been satisfied with this.

A few weeks ago Thomas MacEntee said he was going to start his tree from scratch and post about how he was getting along in a Genealogy Do-over. I am going to do that with my Dobson/Farley families. Starting with my mother and her parents, I'm going to do all my own research, (with source information) and add back one person at a time. I started my new tree yesterday. As with Thomas's challenge, I'm not going to re-buy certificates I already have, but other than that, it is a fresh start. With a full-time job and 2 voluntary treasurer positions, it is going to be slow, but I will do it.

In November I will be in the USA (I've forgotten what visit number this will be - 8? 9?), but I think a week in Salt Lake City visiting the FamilySearch collections might be on the cards to help push me along.

Thanks Amy Johnson Crow for the inspiration


  1. For my 1837+ English ancestors, I can usually get copies of original parish register entries for baptisms and marriages instead of buying certificates. Cousins who bought the corresponding certificates were peeved to find that parish registers had more information than the certificates! This applies especially to parishes for which Dade registers exist (naming the child's grandparents, often with the grandmother's maiden surname).

    1. My pleasure. Good luck with your genealogy do-over. My version is rather different from most people's: Genealogy Do-Over or Source-Based Incremental Fix?.