Finding Francis is a very complex process. Francis Tanner is a remote ancestor of tens of thousands people including one of the largest families in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As you might suspect, there are a number of published books containing the purported pedigree of the Tanner family. The books focus on John Tanner (1778 – 1850), the first of the family to join the Church. Here is what constitutes, most likely, a partial list of the books that address John Tanner's pedigree was included in my previous post entitled, "The Francis Tanner conundrum – A FamilySearch Challenge." This previous post explains some of the difficulties in working with an individual who has become embedded in family tradition. The previous posts also focused on the problems raised by the existing surname books.
The purpose of writing this post is to address the issues that many people have with using a unified, online, family tree program such as that found on FamilySearch.org. After careful consideration, involving years of research, I decided it was time to tackle the identity of Francis Tanner's parents. As I expressed previously the existing link was to an individual named "William Tanner" but there was no substantiating documentation connecting those two individuals. In this situation, the Family Tree allows individual users to detach relationships. So, the process is quite simple, all I had to do was detach Francis Tanner's relationship as a child from the existing relationship to William Tanner. Of course, immediately individuals began reattaching the relationship without adding any justification in the form of a citation to some documentary evidence.
In this case and in all such cases on the Family Tree, I simply marked the watch button and each week FamilySearch will send me an update of any changes made to this individual. In addition, the program allows us to communicate directly with anyone making a change. I did get one or two inquiries as to why the change had been made. After the change had been in existence for some time, once again, someone added the unproven line back into the Family Tree. I detached the relationship and explained my actions the following comment:
Thank you for your involvement in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. However, there are no records showing the parents of Francis Tanner MTC6-5WW. The Tanner Book (Tanner, Maurice, and George C Tanner. Descendants of John Tanner: Born August 15, 1778 at Hopkinton, R.I., Died April 15, 1850 at South Cottonwood, Salt Lake County, Utah. Salem, MA: Higginson Book Company, 2007.} indicates that Francis Tanner MTC6-5WW was the son of William Tanner and Elizabeth Cottrill married in 1722 or 3, however the children are shown as born beginning with Francis Tanner MTC6-5WW born in 1708. There is no explanation for how Elizabeth Cottrill could be having children when she was too young to have children. There are more than two William Tanner's in this part of Rhode Island at this time. Even assuming that Francis Tanner MTC6-5WW's father was named William, there are no sources showing which William was his father. The Family Tree presently has no sources for William Tanner showing him as the father of Francis Tanner MTC6-5WW. In addition, the Family Tree shows William Tanner with a wife not shown as the mother of Francis Tanner in the Tanner book. If you have any sources please add them and if they show a father we can add in the correct father. Meanwhile, I will once again remove the person added a father.I might mention that in spite of the fact that there are thousands of Tanner family members, there are only five people watching Francis Tanner including myself. The response was immediate and threatening.
I have attached a valid source. That I am pursuing. If the source is taken away I will have a difficult time finding out if he has different wife's, which could be his mother. If you take this down again while I try to prove who his parents are by valid sources I will contact FamilySearch and get them involved and investigate the matter. FamilySearch is a combined effort by lots of people to find their ancestors. It is a constant investigation of possible facts. if you do not pursue each one you lose the opportunity of finding ancestors you would never have found.I responded as follows:
What is your valid source? You are welcome to go to FamilySearch with the issue. You will note what is there presently has William Tanner and Mary Babcock as parents, none of the sources show William Tanner and Mary Babcock as parents. A Sons of the American Revolution application is not a "source." It does not show where the information concerning the parentage of Francis Tanner comes from i.e. a historical document showing the relationship such as a birth record, will, etc. The information in the SAR application was merely copied from previous unreliable sources. In addition, your source citation does not contain a link to the document you are citing, so there is no way to view the document. I would suggest rather than threaten me, you take the time to do the research before adding the parents. I have been working on this family for over thirty years and have yet to find a source, I hope you do. We do not have to add unreliable information in the Family Tree. I will not take away the SAR application, even though it is not a source or unreliable. The problems with this line have been investigated for well over a hundred years and no one has yet found a connection even though family tradition and several books have listed a William Tanner as the father. I would suggest that you may wish to collaborate with me rather than fight. I have extensive resources and records. I have personally visited the William Tanner gravesite in Rhode Island and I am considering going to Rhode Island again to do research. I will remove William Tanner again. I suggest you keep your research off of the Family Tree until you find a valid source for adding it. I am a Church Service missionary at the BYU Family History Library and would be glad to help you in any way that I can, but I am determined to clean up the Tanner line with valid documentation. Thanks again for your interest. By the way, I have good working relationship with FamilySearch. To see what is meant by adequate documentation, you may wish to review our blog TheAncestorFiles.blogspot.com.Even though I considered that there were no adequate sources by examining the only sources that had been added, a reference to FindAGrave.com and a Sons of American Revolution application. Both of these documents showed that they simply been copied from the existing online sources and added no new source information connecting Francis to his parents. In the case of the SAR application, there is no need to provide further documentation because Francis did participate in Revolutionary War.
Without further inquiry or discussion, the following was the response:
I have sent in an abuse report to FamilySearch. There should be no reason why I cannot add information to try to find a possible parent. With the current indexing that is going on information is constantly coming available to us. Not allowing someone to pursue a family member because you feel there is no more information available in inappropriate and being a bit of a bully. This is an open site for all to use and gather information. Not just one person or group of people. I have no problem with you messaging me about what I add but to remove it without consideration with what i am doing is very disrespectful to me and your ancestors. And the fact that I have to contact FamilySearch to get you to leave me alone and allow me to exercise my right as a patron on this sight is really wrong.Apparently, this user wanted to use the Family Tree as his or her looking file. I guess my question is whether or not editing the family tree is going to be interpreted as bullying? What I did not realize was that I had not added enough sources to Francis Tanner, so I began to add in summaries of all of my research. The underlying question here is whether we can make actual progress on the Family Tree if those making changes become immediately confrontational? In addition, even before any of this started, I had put a rather long explanation about the situation and Francis Tanner's life sketch.
This process is not complete. I am still looking for documentation substantiating the identity of Francis Tanner's parents. However, there is an avenue of research which has been heretofore ignored. Here is a summary of his background as I entered it in the life sketch:
The key to finding this family is to trace the members of the Seventh Day Baptists Church. They are Christian Baptists who observe seventh-day Sabbath. The Seventh Day Baptist World Federation today represents over 50,000 Baptists in 22 countries.Had the litigious user read this explanation before making changes, the outcome might have been different. This whole experience does point out the need to put explanations in when we make changes, particularly substantial changes.
It is the oldest modern Sabbatarian denomination. The first recorded Seventh Day Baptist meeting was held at The Mill Yard Church in London in 1651 under the leadership of Peter Chamberlen the third.
The Seventh Day Baptist or Sabbitarian Records possibly show the father of Francis Tanner MTC6-5WW as Benjamin. The Tanner Book (Tanner, Maurice, and George C Tanner. Descendants of John Tanner: Born August 15, 1778 at Hopkintown, R.I., Died April 15, 1850 at South Cottonwood, Salt Lake County, Utah. Salem, MA: Higginson Book Company, 2007.} indicates that Francis Tanner MTC6-5WW was the son of William Tanner and Elizabeth Cottrill married in 1722 or 3, however the children are shown as born beginning with Francis Tanner MTC6-5WW born in 1708. There is no explanation for how Elizabeth Cottrill could be having children when she was too young to have children. There are more than two William Tanner's in this part of Rhode Island at this time. Even assuming that Francis Tanner MTC6-5WW's father was named William, there are no sources showing which William was his father. The Family Tree presently has no sources for William Tanner showing him as the father of Francis Tanner MTC6-5WW. In addition, the Family Tree shows William Tanner with a wife not shown as the mother of Francis Tanner in the Tanner book. If you have any sources please add them and if they show a father we can add in the correct father.