Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Correcting the FamilySearch Family Tree -- A Retrospective and Case Study Part Two

This is the second installment of this post series. You may wish to start with the first installment, if you haven't already read it, by clicking on the following link:

In my first installment, I have been discussing the issues involved in making initial corrections to the entries in the Family Tree. The main issue is the fact that the Family Tree is the accumulation of years of user-generated contributions that are often inconsistent, inaccurate or incomplete. Another major issue is the fact that since the Family Tree is a composite of multiple contributions, there are a number of duplicate entries.

It may seem obvious but if there are duplicate entries in the Family Tree and if you are making "corrections" to individuals in the Family Tree, then you run the risk of making the corrections or editing only one of many copies of the same individual. The danger is that you may not be aware of the duplicates and the program may not even find them. In order to proceed with some assurance that your work will not be lost through future merge procedures, is important to verify that there are no readily discoverable merges possible for an individual you intend to focus on. You may need to do both a search for duplicates and search under the "Find" link for additional, possible duplicate entries. The Family Tree program has some present limitations on its ability to find and resolve duplicates, however, and you may wish to have patience and wait until you feel that the particular line or person you are working on is satisfactorily resolved. I will return to this issue as they arise in the case study.

Now, here is the particular line I am using for my examples in this series.

From my last post, here is the status of the source citations for the Parkinson line:
  • Thomas Parkinson born in Farcet, Huntingdoneshire, England (26 sources)
  • James Parkinson born in Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, England (father) (12 sources)
  • Charles Parkinson born in Great Raveley, Upwood, Huntingdon, England (grandfather) (1 source)
  • William Parkinson born in Great Raveley, Upwood, Huntingdon, England (no sources)
As I pointed out, none of the 26 sources cited for Thomas Parkinson (my Great-great-grandfather) pertain to his birth. You may also note, just from this list, that there are three different places listed for the births of these four individuals. How do we know if we have selected the right individuals?

I usually start by checking the event locations on a map. Here is a Google Map screenshot showing the geographic proximity of the three locations:

The first thing I noted is that I had misspelled the place name for "Great Raveley." So, I have now made the changes on my file. It is helpful to know that all these locations are within ten miles or so of each other. Since Thomas Parkinson immigrated to the United States and got married in United States, We need to initially find some record that verifies his connection to Farcet in England. 

As I look at the sources for Thomas Parkinson, I find that none of the sources listed substantiate either his birth date or relationship his parents. In examining each of the sources, I find the following concerning the family of Thomas Parkinson.

Here is a screenshot of the "source."

This source is to an 1850 U.S. Federal Census record of a family with children born in both England and Massachusetts. All of my Thomas Parkinson children are well documented as being born in California and Utah. None of the children were born in either England or Massachusetts. This source has been attached for the wrong family. I can now detach the source with an explanation. This leaves 25 sources still with none supporting either Thomas' birth or parentage. 

I suggest that as you move back in your analysis of your family on the Family Tree that you examine each source carefully to see if the detail information is supported and accurate. At the same time, if any sources do not apply to your ancestors, then they should be detached. 

The next step would be to see if the details claimed for Thomas' birth and parentage can be substantiated. I usually begin the process by looking to see if has any hints or records that can be searched. In this case, there are no record hints and here is what a search from the catalog produces:

Very few of these entries pertain to my Thomas Parkinson. Because we have a record of his residences in the United States in California and Utah, it is fairly easy to distinguish between those with duplicate names and those that appear with inappropriate places. Identifying places is crucial in making these types of distinctions. Here the ancestor would not likely be in England in 1891 and in Beaver, Beaver, Utah in 1900. Especially when the U.S. Census records showed the family in Beaver, Beaver, Utah in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census. This is true because he died in Beaver, Beaver, Utah in 1908.

For a summary to this point. For each line in your family tree, you need to carefully examine the information provided and the sources to see whether or not the information has been correctly transcribed and to further determine whether or not the sources are appropriately attached. As is shown in this case, there are no substantiating sources for Thomas Parkinson's birth or parentage. That will be the subject my next post.

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