Monday, June 26, 2017
Correcting Relationships in the FamilySearch Family Tree -- Part Four
I started this series by investigating an apparent duplicate entry in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. Here are the first posts in this series.
Part One; http://rejoiceandbeexceedingglad.blogspot.com/2017/06/correcting-relationships-in.html
Part Two: http://rejoiceandbeexceedingglad.blogspot.com/2017/06/correcting-relationships-in_14.html
Part Three: http://rejoiceandbeexceedingglad.blogspot.com/2017/06/correcting-relationships-in_19.html
Every ancestral line in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree ends. Sometimes they end when there are no more names such as in this screenshot, and sometimes the names keep going back in time but in reality, the line ended long before the names run out.
It is extremely tempting to run out to the end of a line and begin doing research. This is particularly true when the Family Tree is viewed in the Fan Chart format. The blank spaces are like beacons beckoning us to the unknown. The reality of this situation lies in the origin of the Family Tree. Because it is a unified family tree, the information we have is the accumulation of over a hundred years of research. The blank spaces in my Family Tree are there because the combined efforts of all of the researchers over the past years have failed to find additional people. However, we are blessed today with vastly more resources than those that were available to our ancestors. But the practical effect of trying to fill in the blank spaces is that you may be spending an inordinately large amount of effort for a single person. If you want to do this you are free to do so. My experience shows that the problem of the "blank space" usually lies somewhere closer in time than the missing ancestor.
For example, the screenshot shown above would indicate that we should be looking for Simon Merrit's parents. However, it is readily apparent that we do not have any information concerning Simon Merrit and therefore have no basis for finding his parents.In fact, if we go back to his daughter, we will find that we have no information about her either.
Hmm. By the way, we are back on the Sanderson line. As I pointed out previously, this series of posts began with a duplicate entry. Here is another screenshot of the duplicate entry:
This Sanderson line includes "our" Sarah Sanderson who was born in South Carolina. The rest of this family comes from Vermont. My conclusion is that our Sarah Sanderson has been wrongly included in this Vermont family. By skipping over these facts and focusing on Simon Merrit, we would be following the wrong line entirely. The only way we can determine whether or not we are following the right line is to carefully examine every link going back in time. Who were Sarah Sanderson's real parents? This is the question that needs to be answered before spending any time doing research on her supposed mother Elinor Merrit.
I am now ready to remove or detach our Sarah Sanderson from this family.
The reason I will care for the change is that our Sarah Sanderson was from South Carolina, not Vermont. This change has no effect on the integrity of the Vermont family but it does remove that particular line from my ancestry. Any effort that I made to research the Merrit family would've helped that family but certainly, would not have helped my own.
Interestingly, the Family Tree simply substitutes a new family line in the place of the one detached.
Now, we have a John Sanderson married to a Sarah Foscue as the parents of Sarah Sanderson. But unfortunately, we are only beginning the process. Are we certain that Sarah Sanderson is Garrard Morgan's wife? Why is this a question? The simple answer to this question is that we have no documentary evidence showing that Garrard Morgan's wife's surname was Sanderson.
We have now come around in a complete circle from where I started. Sarah Sanderson is the end of this particular line. The names of her parents are speculative and appear to have come from North Carolina rather than South Carolina where Sarah was supposedly born. I am not yet ready to detach her parents, but at this point, that is likely to happen.
What is the summary of all this? We need to carefully examine each and every ancestral link in the Family Tree. If those links are not supported by carefully examined documents and records, then the lines are tentative or wrong. The Family Tree is in need of severe pruning if it is ever to provide good fruit.