What is the most shocking things you have encountered on Wikitree?

+10 votes
I was most shocked when becoming a Member of Wikitree to see the countless numbers of first cousins marrying, pre and post Revolutionary War. This went on for many generations!  When researching that era, I often find that I am cousins with both of the couple.

Also, the recycling of dead infant names in the immediate family.  If a child died in infancy, the same name was given to a later child by the same parents.

I read recently somehwere that there was a strict protocal for naming children of the Pilgrims, but they did not elaborate on the method.  Does anyone have a clue?
in The Tree House by Patricia Kent G2G6 Mach 1 (15.0k points)

7 Answers

+12 votes
Best answer

I guess I've been doing this long enough that I don't find any of these surprising. My own paternal grandparents were first cousins once removed. Lots of intermarriage in small communities in relatively isolated areas. Many cultures have naming patterns. The Pilgrims just used established English naming patterns. That pattern:

The first son was named after the father's father

The second son was named after the mother's father

The third son was named after the father

The fourth son was named after the father's eldest brother

The first daughter after the mother's mother

The second daughter after the father's mother

The third daughter after the mother

The fourth daughter after the mother's eldest sister

by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (544k points)
selected by Susan Bielefeld
I had noticed this naming pattern, but now that you mention it, it makes sense!
+10 votes

Patricia, my family tree is like that. Several of my lines stayed in the same area, are still in the same area, and my tree looks like a four year old drew it.

Shocking? I don’t know if I ever encountered anything shocking here on WikiTree. However, what has impressed me is the level of “getting it right” as opposed to just copying someone else’s tree (like a paid website who’s name I won’t mention).  I am also impressed by the spirit of collaboration, the buy-in that we are all working together on his One Tree. And finally, I am delighted by the way folks will take a break from their own research to help other out.

As to Doug’s answer below, I wonder if the Pilgrims were stuck if both of the couple were the eldest in their families. Kinda kills naming a child after the oldest. But, then again, all they had to do was open a Bible and point, and there was a name! Lots of that.

by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.7m points)
Yeah, my dad's side is more like a twisting vine that wraps around itself. They settled in the village in the late 1700s and most of the town descends from the same woman (outlived 4 husbands and had children with them all).
+8 votes

Several months ago I had an occasion to look up current US state laws on cousin marriage. I was not aware of what I found. See link.
by Rodney Long G2G6 Pilot (890k points)
+8 votes
Recycling of dead infant names is commonplace in the families I work on. When it happens three times, I find it heartbreaking. And yes, I have seen that.

First cousins marrying --- never encountered that (17th and 18th century Europe).
by Gus Gassmann G2G6 Mach 4 (49.7k points)
+12 votes
I agree with all that has been said.  I have the repeated names, the 1st cousins getting married, the uncle and niece getting married, the murderers, the war heros, etc...  But I think the most shocking thing I've seen is the posts that occur a couple times a month from anonymous who tells us to leave their tree alone.
by Gurney Thompson G2G6 Pilot (472k points)
+2 votes
When I create profiles, and fill out a family with marriages and children, I always have this little subconscious narrative playing out in the back of my head. "Oh, they were born in 1843, in this small village. Oh, they got married in 1864, not too young. Huh, the first baby was born eight months later. Oh sad, it died..."

Usually, I guess, I imagine everyone happy, and loving, and nice. But every now and then I stumble across a fact that interrupts that narrative and shocks me. Like, a death record that states "slit his own throat with a knife" (I've seen this), or "died in the insane asylum". Sometimes it'll be an account from a grandchild like "Trout River was settled by William Crocker. His family was the only family there for 3 generations, and he ruled over it like he was a king", and then I remember, a whole lot of the stories that were playing out were a whole lot darker than my happy imaginings.
by Brad Foley G2G6 Mach 8 (85.0k points)
Ah Brad, I found one person who had moved to live with his sister shortly after his wife died as he was in poor health, and was found one morning down by the creek where he had blown himself up with dynamite. Some sad stories out there.
+4 votes
There's several people here on Wikitree who have cases of incest in their family trees. Not even kissing cousins, but father/daughter and the like. I found a profile for that unfortunate woman who was impregnated by her father and then whipped for the crime of incest. I think most right-thinking people understand that very few, if any, young girls willingly have sex with their own fathers. This is 99.99999% certain a girl who was sexually abused and betrayed by her own father, and then ostracized and physically punished by her community for "her crime" of being a victim.
by Jessica Key G2G6 Pilot (319k points)

Assume you're talking about Thomas Rood https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Rood-173 He was an attorney and was hanged and his daughter publicly whipped in 1672 in Norwich, Connecticut.
Yes, it was Sarah Rood I was thinking of. That the court ordered her whipped even though they acknowledged "great appearance of force layd upon her spirit by her father oueraweing & tiranicall abuse of his parental authority" is harrowing. I mean, what could the poor girl have been expected to do? Preach to him until Jesus himself came down and stopped her father from molesting her? Brain her father over the head with a cast-iron skillet to defend her virtue? Reprehensible.

It was disturbing when I first found him (by going backwards through ancestors on FindAGrave looking for clues). The full account is on his FindAGrave memorial https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/143819774/thomas-roode

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