Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

How Not to Ancestry

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on September 28, 2014

I use Ancestry all the time, not only for my own genealogy, but for researching lots of individuals. 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, a great many of whom are inexperienced and not very careful about what they compile and post. Some of these user-compiled records 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. The users lists her father born in 1537, and her mother in 1525. Her son was born in 1530, when she was ten:




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.




4 Responses

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  1. Rob Baker said, on September 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    The answer is obvious Andy.

    Sherman and his bloodthirsty yankees illegally invaded and changed the dates. If you weren’t such a flogger you’d realize this. πŸ˜‰

  2. Cotton Boll Conspiracy said, on September 29, 2014 at 8:36 am

    I’ve seen this on occasion, as well, and have wondered if the people filling out their family trees simply didn’t realize the math doesn’t make sense or actually believe what they’re imputing.

    • Andy Hall said, on September 29, 2014 at 8:46 am

      I think they don’t look carefully. It’s so easy to go click-click-click and copy lousy information into your tree, it gets to be reflexive.

  3. Mark Chandler said, on February 8, 2015 at 3:56 am

    I tried Ancestry a couple of years back – just to see how/if it worked. They were running a weekend of free access to Australian families with military connections.
    Searching found me any number of people in the UK, but none, apparently in Australia. Despite the fact that my grandfather, great-grandfather and another bloke with the same name all served in the Australian Imperial Force during WWI. I’d been hoping to see if I could find any background to the third guy which might show a link to my family.
    I decidedthat it was bollocks & gave it up.

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