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

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Stepping off into the Fire Swamp of the Data in the FamilySearch Family Tree

I give credit to The Princess Bride (Goldman, William. The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure : the "Good Parts" Version Abridged. New York: Ballantine Pub. Group, 1998.) for the allusion to the Fire Swamp. But that is exactly how I feel when I step off into the unreal world of the higher reaches of the Family Tree. Here is a glimpse of the tangled mess I find on just one of my lines.

The red warning icons refer to the fact that there are children who are born before the father was 12 years old. Possible, but not probable. It is also a fact that this family was amazingly unimaginative in naming their children. Here is a descendancy view of Jacob Morgan.

The purple icons show that there are no sources attached. It is interesting that except for the people here supposedly born in West Virginia, they are all born in Virginia and mostly in Shepherdstown and in Berkeley County. It might help to know that West Virginia did not become a state until 20 June 1863 and Berkeley County was not founded until 1772. Jacob Morgan has three wives, Jacqueline Smith, Mrs. Jane Morgan and Unknown. The marriage to Jacqueline Smith occurred when he was 2 years old and when his wife, Jacqueline was 13 years old. Her last baby was born when she was 113 years old. Yes, I have some amazing ancestors. Oh, I almost forgot, Shepherdstown was chartered in 1762, after all of these children were born with the exception of the one born at age 113.

Perhaps you can begin to see why I have a hard time taking much of what is in the Family Tree too seriously. The only thing we can do with this mess is to trace the line forward in time until we get to people who might possibly be verifiable and re-do this who genealogy.


  1. What puzzles me is why we never hear anything about this issue from FamilySearch! Why isn't FS making a clarion call to all the committed, experienced genealogists in the Church to clean up the mess?

    1. That is the $1,000,000 question. I am writing a follow up post on this subject that is already planned.

  2. No, in genealogy you go from what you know to what you don't know. You start with yourself and work backward, not take an ancestor line and work forward. You might be way off in the weeds on this family and they might not be related to you at all!! Go from what you know to what you don't know and find sources along the way.