We would expect the accuracy of FamilySearch.org Family Tree to be directly related to time. That is, as we move back in time, there are fewer records and the conclusions derived from those records should become more and more suspect. Of course there are situations where very close relatives, even parents and siblings are not fully known. All families have instances of unacknowledged or unknown parentage. Without redoing all of the research contained on that portion of my own family as represented in the Family Tree, I cannot be absolutely certain that any of the information is correct. There is always a certain degree of uncertainty, but I can determine, using my own criteria, the degree to which I feel confident in the conclusions and I can probably rate those conclusions on a scale from one to ten.
What is the motivation for this analysis? If you are just now the first person in your family adding family members to the Family Tree, the whole issue probably makes no sense. But if you are in the position of inheriting a huge amount of information already in the Family Tree, then you need to go through a similar process. By doing this analysis I hope to establish just where research needs to be done and how reliable the existing data on my family really is. The emphasis here is to improve the content of the Family Tree and legitimately extend the family lines. I will begin my formal analysis once I get back far enough in time.
The time range is from the most recent death date back to the earliest birth date.
2nd and 3rd Generations (Time Range 2008 to 1892)
So lets get going. My first two surnames are Tanner and Morgan. I have literally thousands of documents about my parents and back to my Grandparents. There are likely some details that could be added but I continue to add more documents all the time to the Family Tree. I would give both of my parents and my four Grandparents a confidence rating of 10. I knew both my Morgan grandparents but both my Tanner grandparents died before I was born.
4th Generation (Time Range 1968 to 1842)
The next generation is my fourth. This depends on whether or not you count yourself as the first generation. Counting myself as the first generation, my Great-grandparents are the fourth. The surnames are as follows
Tanner, Parkinson, Overson, Jarvis, Morgan, Linton, Christensen, Thomas
As far as the basic information about all eight of these ancestors, I am confident that they are well documented. Two of these, Mary Ann Linton Morgan and Margaret Godfrey Jarvis Overson did an extensive amount of genealogy. I only remember my Grandmother Overson. The rest of this generation's grandparents either died when I was very young or before I was born.
I would give all of the ancestors at this level a confidence rating of 10 except my Great-grandfather Marinus Christensen. He is reported to be adopted but the question of his birth has never been adequately resolved, so I would give him an 8.
5th Generation (Time Range 1934 to 1806)
You notice that the number doubles every generation. Here are the 5th Generation surnames:
Tanner, Shepherd, Parkinson, Bryant, Ovesen (Overson and Oveson), Christensen, DeFriez/Jarvis, Jarvis, Morgan, Hamilton, Linton, Sutton, Christensen, Johannesen, Thomas, Springthorpe.
Here we go. I am missing any birth information about Thomas Parkinson (b. 1830, d. 1906). He was born in Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, England, but so far I have not found any birth information. He is very well documented in the United States but he also lived in Australia and England. He has been located in Australia and in the 1841 England Census. So far this is where I am focusing some of my research efforts right now. All of the individuals at this level are well documented, but as with Thomas Parkinson, the information about their parents is not at all well established. I have the least amount of information about Eliza Ann Hamilton (b. 1815, d. 1901). Here would be the ratings on each line at this level.
By making this evaluation and ranking, you can really begin to see that extensions of some of these lines would be highly speculative. A lot more research needs to be done on some of these individuals. I will return to this issue in a subsequent post.