This is a several part series about the process of resolving unsupported family relationships in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. I am attempting to illustrate both the problems and the solutions to the problems that exist in the Family Tree. Because some of these issues with questionable relationships crop up frequently, I am taking the time to explain my research process in detail. I will be using actual situations that are found in the Family Tree. In reading this series, please bear in mind that my intent is not to show how to resolve one problem (the example) but the process used to resolve all such problems.
There are only two types of basic family relationships in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree; parent/child and couples. All other relationships in the Family Tree are built on these two basic building blocks. Many of the questions I respond to from people using the Family Tree a based in incorrect or inaccurately represented family relationships.
The image shown above has two children in the family with the same name born two years apart. This raises a question about the accuracy of one or both of the entries. Is this simply an instance of a duplicate entry or is there something else going on? One possibility is that the first daughter born died in infancy and then the next child born with the same sex was given the name of the deceased child. In some countries and cultures and during some time periods this was a common occurrence. You have to be careful and research the first child with the name to see if that child died before the second child was born. It this is the case, then the presumption is that there are two different children.
If we look at each of the two children represented above, we see the following:
A comparison of these two entries shows a different problem the children were born in the different states. The first step in correcting the problem is simple: look at where all of the other family members were born. Both of the parents in this family were born in Massachusetts, however, all of the children except the Sarah Sanderson born in 1774 were born in Vermont. In addition, looking a little further, I find that the 1774 Sarah Sanderson was supposedly married in Kentucky and died in Indiana. It should be apparent that this Sarah Sanderson has been added to the wrong family. But how do we know?
RESEARCH NOTE: Checking the consistency of entries in the Family Tree (or any family tree) is essential to making any real progress in identifying the family. The key ingredient in this process is based on looking at the places identified for the events in the lives of the extended family members. Additionally, every attached source should be carefully reviewed to see if the sources support the information in the Family Tree.
In all these situations there is an easy solution; you can delete the child/parent relationship. Normally, you would have to do some extensive research to resolve the issue. But here, if I go back to the entry for the 1774 Sarah Sanderson, I find she has two sets of parents in the Family Tree.
The top set of parents are from North Carolina. The second set are from Vermont. This particular family line has been documented back to Indiana and Kentucky (which was originally a part of Virginia). The only source showing that Sarah Sanderson came from Vermont is a record extracted from the International Genealogy Index (IGI).
RESEARCH NOTE: IGI entries have been automatically assigned by the program. Any IGI attributed entry should be carefully examined to see if the information is consistent with existing records and sources. If the IGI sources are found to be invalid, they should be detached.
However the birth date does not match and the Vermont location is inconsistent with other records showing the family in Kentucky. The first set of parents, John Sanderson and Sarah Foscue, are shown to be from North Carolina. There are definitely some problems with this entire family.
The long list of children has individuals born in South Carolina with one child in Kentucky and one child with no birthplace information. There is not one source showing where or when Sarah Sanderson was born. There is further no information explaining how the parents, who were born in North Carolina, had children born in South Carolina. There is further no information as to how the family got to Kentucky. John Sanderson, shown in the screenshot above, is shown to have duplicate wives.
In addition, the IGI sources have added several children to the North Carolina John Sanderson that are from Vermont. No wonder that people can become confused with who is and who is not a family member. See the RESEARCH NOTE above regarding the IGI entries.
At this point we have several options. It would seem expedient to remove the relationship between Sarah Sanderson and the Vermont Sandersons. On the other hand, my examination of all of the records does not necessarily support a conclusion that she was a member of the North Carolina parents' family either. It may well be that all of the children born in South Carolina are not correct. The status of the sources only shows a Sarah Sanderson in Kentucky, so right now here origin is pure speculation. If I make any changes involving removing relationships, I will be acting on supposition rather than sources.
My tentative conclusion is that we do not have any valid supporting information that identifies Sarah Sanderson's parents. Additionally, the relationship of Sarah Sanderson and the person who married Garrard Morgan is also in doubt.
Stay tuned for more analysis.