Another lesson learned from Ancestry trees

+16 votes
349 views
Today I've been adding all the siblings of my cousins' ancestor to Wikitree, going through Ancestry trees and using Wikitree X to quickly add them, then going back and adding actual sources.  There are at least 11 kids in this family, and most of them grew to adulthood, married, and had children of their own, so this is a long-term project (especially since I'm not even related to them).  I'm starting with just the 1850 census, so I have a long ways to go.

I came to sibling #8, Julia Ann Beeson Maudlin and no one had sources for her, so I looked at other Ancestry trees, and about half of them blithely replicated an error giving her the wrong husband, incorrect children, and even the wrong state of birth (Virginia, even though all of her siblings are born in Iowa or Indiana).  Some people even gave her two incorrect husbands.  Most have her dying in 1919, almost 50 years after her original death date in Colorado.

Even if I contact all of the people with inaccurate trees, it is unlikely that they will accept the correction.  I will email one guy I've written to before because he's a direct descendant of one of the siblings.  

It's the most depressing error yet that I've found in Ancestry trees. Life is too short to replicate errors en masse.  Thank goodness for Wikitree.
WikiTree profile: Julia Maudlin
in The Tree House by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (202k points)
This is exactly why I signed up to Wikitree!

There is bad research out there, many people will cheerfully replicate it and it’s impossible to fix it all up. I’ve contacted Ancestry users to attempt to verify information before, and many have no idea of even the secondary source it came from and it does not worry them.

For conscientious researchers it’s crazy to be duplicating work.

It makes so much sense just to have one tree.

4 Answers

+9 votes
I find that bad data is worse than no data.   I feel for you!

It is harder to untangle a mess than to put notes in on someone who is researched and let others take up the hunt based on notes rather than bad data.
by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (652k points)
+6 votes
I have given up on ancestry, in my family, I have one family member never married  ( apparently he did have several affairs) and  had no known children, yet in ancestry he had two wives and two children, very curious when his sister acted as his housekeeper, and in his will  he left the bulk of his money to his niece, no  wife no children or grandchildren even mentioned, not one of these pedigrees cite any sources for these two wives and children, I contacted about 20  or so of the mangers asking about sources but none of them have ever replied.
by Anonymous Anonymous G2G6 Mach 3 (32.3k points)
+4 votes
Ancestry is as good as it's users. For me, I hardly ever look at someone else's tree. I use the Census records and put down only the information there unless a person in my family was born and died between the censuses - then I go to the church, cemetery, state birth and death records.

Without instruction on how to read a census record, many don't find the valuable information it can hold. Many, too, do not realize that grandpa's memory may include false tales and without the sources to back up the facts, the "record" is just a story.

After I was using the citation Ancestry provided, I found the Ancestry details could be put in the record onWikitree to complete the bio more fully. I adopted some people from a download from a Howe family as they were related to my mother's Great Aunt who lived in central Wisconsin. Orphaned profiles reall annoy me and sidetrack my efforts to work on my own tree.
by Bev Spreeman G2G6 (9.5k points)
+4 votes
There are zillions of these on Ancestry.  They get worse as you go back.  In the early Colonial era, it's hard to find anything that's correct.  Everywhere you look, wall-to-wall junk.  No early immigrant family is immune.  Not just on Ancestry but on all the user-contrib sites.

They spread like wildfire through the suggestions system.  People think they have to check whether a suggestion fits their tree.  They don't realise they have to check whether it's even true at all.

A lot of the junk has already been imported into WikiTree.
by Anonymous Horace G2G6 Pilot (566k points)

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