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

Saturday, July 22, 2017

What if you turn out not to be related?

There are several popular "apps" or programs that use information on the Family Tree to establish "relationships.? When my wife and I tried out one of these programs recently, it showed that my wife and I are supposed to be 10th cousins four generation removed. What is a tenth cousin four generations removed? A tenth cousin four generations removed means that my 9th great-grandparents and my wife's 13th great-grandparents are in common. But for me and my wife to actually be related the chain of the relationship shown in the Family Tree would have to be accurate back, at least, nine generations and then forward to the present.

Of course, there is a way to determine if the results of the relationship app are correct. All you need to do is look at the connecting generations in the line of relationship given by the Family Tree to see if it is accurate. This is often easier said than done.

The relationship calculated by the app (which will for the purposes of this post remain unidentified) extends back through my "Stewart" line. Here is a screenshot of part of the Stewart line as it appears in the Family Tree back nine generations:

Duncan Stewart Steward has seven different fathers and seven different mothers. Take your pick. Which one connects me to my wife as a cousin? Really! The program takes the one that makes the relationship work.

This may seem like a rather harmless and trivial example, but the problem is that there are many people out there who believe that the information in the Family Tree is reliable and verified by the Church and/or FamilySearch. As this one example points out, many of these computer-generated pedigrees have severe issues.

What is more serious is that many other programs suggest relationships for the purpose of doing temple work with the same lack of verification of relationship.

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