Question of the Week: Have you ever found yourself in the wrong tree?

+18 votes
In other words, have you ever discovered you were researching the wrong person? How did you figure out it was the wrong family? Were you able to find the correct family?
asked in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (254k points)
I have never found myself in the wrong tree but I have found people in other trees that belong in my tree. So far my third great grandfather has three families and one in the wings that I am still researching.

Did that as a newbie. I have an ancestor who was married twice, both wives were named Anna Cajsa Persdotter.

I went barking up the wrong family tree for e few generations for the second wife (my ancestress) until I started wondering where the money went - because my Anna Cajsa was a crofter's wife, while this other family was well-to-do, self-owned farmers. It turned out (of course) that there was more than one Anna Cajsa Persdotter born in the same parish the same year.
Yes. I discovered this past September, through DNA, that my GGGM had my GGM out of wedlock with a married man. She proceeded to have two more children with him before she finally married who we thought was our GGGF. I spent years finding this family. Now someone who really is blood related has a great genealogy with multi sources. Now I am searching a whole new line that hasn’t been traced yet.
Well, when doing Sicilian genealogy for my husband, half of the men in the town are named Salvatore and half of those are named Maria.   I had one family that named 5 girls Rosalia.  One would die young and they would reuse the name..In doing my Germans, they are crazy about Johan, Johann, and various version of it.  After a while, I feel like I am going in circles and I have to stop and do something else like work on my photo project.   Don't feel like you are the only one making a mistake at times.

Here is one problem.  Years ago, I thought Ancestry was MY tree so I entered some "maybe" names.  I put question marks after it, meaning, I was not sure.  Later I put the correct info.  Well, I found out that was a no-no.  I, to this day, find where people  copy my mistake.  I notify them of my error and the correction never gets done.  It continues on.  (red face)
It happens on all forums Sharon, no need to feel bad. I have seen obvious errors on other people's trees that involve my family that I was there and/or know for fact. I never get a response of thank you, eff you, or anything as the misinformation continues. Ancestry is a good tool, but way too many people accept a 'shaking leaf ' as fact and gospel when it is only a suggested maybe.

23 Answers

+14 votes
A lot with medieval families.  Usually find out by doing extensive research when possible that either confirms the data, eliminates the data or just leaves the line in limbo.
answered by James LaLone G2G6 Mach 4 (49.7k points)
+14 votes

As far as my family tree as a whole I started out researching from the Irish route, because of the Flemmings and Cavanaughs... but come to find out, our surname BARRY is derived from the Barils in Canada and they came over from France.  That was my roadblock that another WikiTreer found for me a few months ago.  The Flemmings and Cavanughs however still came from Ireland so part of us are Irish. 

answered by Dorothy Barry G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+16 votes
That is an excellent question, Julie!! Sometimes with the Southern lines, bad internet trees are repeated until everyone believes they are fact but when we find original documents that prove errors, they do not want them corrected for fear their tree will be "disconnected". Often the tree connects to the same ancestors by a different route. I can understand the concern but my experience is that with continued research, everyone's profile ends up connected with documents and proof.

My own great great grandpa Johnson is unconnected. There are internet trees that have him connected back to ancient Scotland but they are in error. A lot of the times the mistake is in the 1800s due to difficulty finding records.

I am glad that we have DNA. Peter has helped us resolve many of these problems with DNA. I think I am going to have to look into a DNA test for my brother!!
answered by Paula J G2G6 Pilot (199k points)
Paula ,  so very , very true.  I set out to prove I had no royal connections.  Once things start to square up I find I might actually have them on both side.  The tide just keeps rolling.
I think we would all rather know our actually ancestors! Congratulations on making so much progress!!
+13 votes
Been there did that. William Holland was the problem. His brother Isaac lived in a small southern Ontario village, I knew from the England census William was Isaac's brother and they emigrated to Ontario. There was a William Holland in the same Ontario village Isaac was in according to the census so I spent a lot of time researching him and his family. Things just didn't fit though dates seemed off but I had trouble letting my William go because it made logical sense this was Isaac's brother.

One day I was looking at my g grandmother's wedding info and noticed a May Holland was her maid of honor. Turns out May was the daughter of William Williams Holland who lived about 20 miles from Isaac in another small town in Southern Ontario. This was the real William I needed to be researching...the other William is not related at all... though I have come to know him quite well.
answered by Brett Rutherford G2G6 Pilot (119k points)
+20 votes

On numerous occasions.

The worst one was untangling the New Haven Curtis family. Bad information from Davis' Families of Wallingford, had me barking up the wrong tree, for some time.

answered by Anne B G2G6 Pilot (971k points)
Nice image, Anne!
I love that picture, Anne!! rofl
+10 votes
Yes, just today. I am researching all the Daniel Applegates of a certain age and place. I though I had them sorted out well by the sources, but discovered I was wrong. There was a data conflict in one of them, but I have it now. What tripped me up was looking at un-sourced data as if it was. I know better than that but it happens.
answered by James Applegate G2G6 Mach 5 (53k points)
+8 votes
In my Marshall ancestors from Cornwall, there is the problem of 2 brothers having children with the same names and born about the same time. A distant cousin thinks we are descended from the younger brother, William, and I have researched that line, but looking at all the evidence (possible will, lease of house in neighbouring parish) I now think we are descended from the elder brother Nicholas.  Not sure that I have convinced my cousin though.
answered by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (305k points)
+13 votes

Yes, but I finish the research, post it, then find the correct one.

Image result for genealogy humor

answered by Doug Lockwood G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)
Ha! Good one, Doug!!
+9 votes
Yes.  My grand mother is Isabel Donaldson.  Her brother William Donaldson.  I hooked to the wrong Isabel Donaldson because the details matched.  My first mistake on wikitree.  Not I find William and Isabel Donaldsons by the dozens.  Also William and Isabel and Isabella Grants.  And dozens of Archibald Peacocks.  At last count I found 42 different  Trudy Ann Roaches.  Two on wikitree.
answered by Trudy Roach G2G6 Pilot (166k points)
+10 votes
I once had a line mapped out back to the 1600s.  But no burial info.

When I got the burials, turned out the baptism I'd taken to be my ggg-grandfather had died when he was 2.
answered by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (392k points)
+6 votes
My wife had a purported connection to nobility and hence to royalty through one of her Québecois ancestors - until she hadn't anymore due to the unearthing of some creative genealogy fabricating that linkage.
answered by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (438k points)
+6 votes
These are all such great answers and great lessons in making sure we don't fall into the trap of copying from one mistake to another.

I find myself working on various branches of my tree at different times and have identified several instances of people who were very much alike. I'm currently working to differentiate between three different individuals named Solomon Fiscus, all born within 3 years of each other -- two in Indiana; the other in N. Carolina.

I have three other families where a Jacob or James married Mary, and they had a daughter named Daisy. Again, all within just a few years of each other, but the details are different enough that I'm sure they aren't duplicates.

Somebody really needs to get to work on that time machine so we can go back and talk to these people.
answered by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (254k points)
+4 votes
I have not found myself in the wrong tree,,,but I was lead astray and had the wrong family in my tree. Those frugle Scots that like to reuse names,,in all families just about drove me around the bend.Archibald is apparently very well used in Scotland. I did finally track down the right Archibald and corrected and deleted for almost a month.
answered by Rita Miller G2G2 (2.7k points)
+5 votes
Certainly this happens.  Figured it out through DNA, when descendants of my ancestor didn't match descendants of the person we'd thought all along was related.  I have a LOT of information on that branch sitting unconnected in my personal database now, as I'd done a heck of a lot of research on the lines associated with my (now unproven not my) ancestor.  Future generations will have such an advantage with the use of DNA!  Love it!!
answered by Darlene Athey-Hill G2G6 Pilot (257k points)
+3 votes
Of course.  My 2x great grandmother was Clara Ream.  We happily went to visit the cemetery where she was buried and there were two Claras buried with her supposed father, but both with the wrong last names.  Turns out her father was not Charles Ream, but after further research it is Andrew J. Ream.  Unfortunately, we can't quite figure out where he belongs.  He was born in Reamstown and died in Reading, PA.  It is my toughest brick wall.
answered by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (237k points)
+3 votes
Not really but I do research a lot of dead twigs that all look alike before I finally decide which one belonged on my tree! Every one that turns out to be wrong is one less to look at when looking for 'my' twig. DNA is sure helping in that hunt too, particularly with my LEEs but others as well. I also get a kick out of finding dead limbs on the ground and trying to figure out which tree they fell out of.
answered by Hardy Pottinger G2G1 (1.7k points)
+4 votes
Yes... thought I was going the right route until a few months later I FINALLY got the correct info from my aunt. LOL Definitely knew I was on the correct track when an unusual name was an uncle to someone I had in the tree. LOL
answered by Charlotte Shockey G2G6 Pilot (917k points)
+4 votes
I found out I had the wrong parents for one of my ancestors when the historian at the Mayflower Society told me so!  He pointed out that the Olive Soule that belonged to the set of parents I had on my tree died in her teen years.  Therefore she could not have gone on to marry and have many children.  I felt quite foolish because I hadn't done the proper research.  He then kindly pointed out the parents that were believed to belong to my Olive Soule although he said it has never been proven.  I hope one day I can prove it!
answered by Emma MacBeath G2G6 Pilot (517k points)
+3 votes
I have quite often been confused because of the multiple use of the same name throughout my family.  It takes a genius to sort out all the Williams, Johns, Samuels etc.  However, the hardest part of my family tree is that cousin married cousins, and multiple brothers and sisters married brothers and sisters from another family making it a genealogical nightmare to try to track as most of the programs are not set up to figure out those relationships.
answered by Gail Breakey G2G Crew (410 points)
That has been my nightmare also. My 2x great grand father and his brother married sisters. So two Allcorn married two Maddox not to put of the norm. But Doc the brother died his she remarried.
+3 votes
Periodically I do. It is really frustrating during the times I will be going through my tree, kind of spot checking for accuracy and I find that the child was born 100 years after the mom or that the child was born at the same time the mom was and somehow to slipped by me before. I realized very early on how easy it could happen, I was researching my grandma and could have had 6 generations already done by a family member, but it wasn't the correct person.
answered by Crystal Havens G2G Crew (440 points)

Related questions

+17 votes
23 answers
+17 votes
21 answers

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright