1. “You just go online, click on one of those leafy things and voilà your tree pops up.”
Seriously?! Please tell me you are joking.... public online trees are often created by people who have absolutely no idea what they are doing... and they likely copied it from someone else who had no idea what they were doing, & so on & so on. Don't get me wrong - Sites are FABULOUS - but it's records you need.
2. “All you need is one record to confirm a parent child relationship.”
OMG, no, no, no! Multiple documents of support must be found to confirm relationships & theories. Otherwise, you are probably just going around adopting random ancestors...
3. “It’s not necessary to cite sources.”
Are you kidding me? Some random person’s word is junk in the land of genealogy, and that is exactly what your tree becomes without citing sources. You must source so that others can trace that record and look at it for themselves. There are many resources available for how to source genealogical information.
4. “My grandparents said that their parents said....”
Ok, one phrase, ‘The Tin Can Game’. Whatever it is, if they didn’t live it & document it at the time, it’s hogwash (aka “Tradition”) unless proven with further documentation. Remember the common phrase "Genealogy without proof is mythology."
5. “It’s ok to ignore conflicting documentation, and pretend it was never seen”
As much as we wish we could “un-see” things – we can’t. Find your integrity, before finding your ancestors.
6. “Everything written in a newspaper, town history or family genealogical book is true.”
No...and worse, many of the older books aren’t sourced.
7. “Ok, well then, everything written on a vital record is true”
Ah...no. Death records are often wrong. After all, the person who most likely knows the answer to that question is dead. Marriage records can be wrong because they may be underage & outright lying, or perhaps one of the individuals is answering for the other & is just wrong. Birth records, although usually are correct can also be wrong. I personally know of two situations in my tree where the mother’s first name is wrong & another where the father is clearly listed incorrectly....considering the child is African American & both parents listed plus all their ancestors are white.
8. “If someone names his ‘son in law’ in his will that means that person was married to his daughter, and if it says ‘brother’ then that confirms a sibling relationship.”
Maybe, but it could depend on the time period. Earlier records show relationships that today we call ‘step sons’ were then called ‘son in law’ or ‘son by law’. Also, ‘brother’ was a term of endearment not necessarily a sibling. This is also the case with ‘cousins’ just because someone said they were a cousin doesn’t necessarily mean they were by todays standards.
9. “If a record says a person’s name in records was ‘Jr’, ‘II’, ‘III’, then we know their father & grandfather had the same name and that confirms relationships.”
No. Many times in earlier records in an attempt to keep people with the same name in a small location straight they often used these titles according to age. You can usually guess one is older or younger than the other but that’s about it. The person may or may not be related to the other individual at all, never mind father & son.
10. “People in previous generations were different than today. They were all law abiding & religious, never had sex out of wedlock, never cheated on spouses & did not get drunk.”
See tomorrow’s blog for some examples of the Earliest New Hampshire Court Records dating back to the 1600’s....
Amylynne (Baker) Murphy