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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Descendancy Explorer: What's New From BYU

The Brigham Young University Family History Technology Lab has released yet another program. This new program is called the Descendancy Explorer. Yes, this is another program for searching the Family Tree for available ordinances. I learned about the program from word-of-mouth rather than from any formal announcement. I decided to give the program a try.

As you might guess, my portion of the Family Tree is pretty well worked over. I let the program run for a quite a while and it stopped expanding the number of records at 9,754. There doesn't appear to be anything wrong with the program, but as with all such programs, they rely completely on the accuracy of the information in the Family Tree. I absolutely know that there are some errors in almost every single user's portion of the Family Tree, so that assumption can lead to inaccurate returns from this and every other such program.

Working through over 9.000 individuals seems to take a while, so I just let the program run. After waiting for about half and hour or so, I had 11 suggested names. The first name on the list is in this screenshot:

By viewing the relationship, I was taken to the Relative Finder program.

So, I went to the Family Tree and looked up the individual.

Hmm. Red icon showing "Birth after Mother's Child-Bearing Years." Doesn't look like an opportunity to click on a green icon, it looks more like an opportunity to do some research and attach some Record Hints. But who is this person? I can View My Relationship by clicking on the link right here on this page.

Pretty straight forward. I am related assuming all the people in the chain of relationship are correct. Let's look around a little and see, especially given the red icon problem. Here is part of the relationship.

Francis M. Finney was supposedly born when his mother was 53 years old. Not impossible, but not probable. He was also born more than ten years after his next older sibling. Also a problem. In addition, the parents were married seven years before the first child was born. Also not impossible. But the next child was born twelve years later. This family has some problems. So what do I do? Can I simply reserve the ordinance and take the name to the temple?

Actually, there are no sources showing that this "Francis M. Finney" is even related. The source attached shows him as born in Indiana and has his mother "Mary Barber," my relative married to an Irish immigrant. All this is based on one 1880 Census record.

So was my Mary Barber married to this Michael Finney? Probably not. There are no sources supporting the marriage at all. This seems to me to be a "same name = same person" mistake. In fact, there are no sources yet supporting the fact that Mary Barber is the daughter of Thankful Tefft Tanner.

We have a problem here. Do I simply do the ordinance based on what is in the Family Tree or do I have a duty to do more research? What would the average unsophisticated person without thirty-five years of genealogical research experience do?

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