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"Clicking and Claiming" on Ancestry.com -- A Commentary
My Great-Grandfather, August H. Vonderheide, with his first three great-grancdhildren
Anyone who has been doing genealogy for any
length of time knows not to trust family trees on ancestry.com at face value.
They may be absolutely correct and include wonderful source citations. They may
serve as a starting point for conducting your own research on an elusive
ancestor. Best of all, they may lead you to connecting to “cousins” who are
researching the same ancestor. I’ve had all three experiences.
Through Ancestry, I've had the pleasure of
meeting and forming relationships with cousins who were working on the same
family members. I’m very close to a 2nd, 3rd, 4th
and 5th cousin I would not have discovered in any other way. One newly-discovered
cousin lives about 15 minutes away from me, and we discovered that our
gg-grandparents were brothers who ran their own business as blacksmiths in
Cincinnati in the 1840s. What a delightful discovery.
BUT . . .
Not all discoveries are this positive. On
ancestry, the company lets you know if someone is copying information from your
tree to theirs. When I see the same name appearing over and over, I always
contact them through the Member Connect option to see if we are related. A
couple of days ago, I followed this procedure to contact someone who had
included my g-grandfather in his tree. He had it totally wrong, and I
offered to help him straighten it out. I did not expect to get this reply:
There may not be any
logical or traceable connection at all, as the tree, by this time, is not
actually a "family tree", but more correctly, a "community
tree". In the process of assembling this interconnected tapestry, the
families of various in-laws, or even second or third spouses, are included,
which makes some of the "connections" a little obscure. I include
something I call "cousin of a cousin", as your cousins may have an
entirely different set of cousins, and when these families are expanded,
gradually most of a community is included. So I probably bumped into (unnamed ancestor) by including parts of somebody else's tree, and if this
information is incorrect, perhaps I was not sufficiently prudent in
verification. Perhaps you could provide clarification?
The core of my tree is
based in southwestern Wisconsin, Grant county, and expanding outward from
there. Some goes back to European or Canadian pasts, and has stretched back and
forth across the United States several times. In truth, I probably have no connection at all with some 95% or more of
the people on the tree, and in fact, I am not even a direct relative of the
base person, John Doe*. He was a brother-in-law to my first cousin, and I
started the tree shortly after he died, as a sort of memorial. John* was about
8 or 9 years older than me, and he hung out with my older brother and my first
cousins. He was always pretty much of a maverick when he was 17, and he was not
much changed by the time he was 70. I pursue the expansion of the tree mostly
for the intellectual challenge, as it is both a test of deductive capabilities,
sorting out the scattered acts, and a way to fill time during retirement years.
And I like to think it may be a starting point for somebody else who wants to
start their own tree. Good Hunting.
changed to protect the guilty.
I don’t think I have an answer for this one. Do you? You can't just "click and claim" him -- he's mine.