How to avoid duplicating common wrong information

+5 votes

John Field b. 1705 who married Mary Howard in 1726 at Bridgewater, Massachusetts Bay had a son John in 1727. Sources differ about the wife and children of this son: he is either


The evidence makes it pretty clear that the former profile is the correct John born 1727.  I include the evidence and analysis below.

My question is about the second profile: at least two sources incorrectly attribute him as child of John and Mary (Howard) Field and thereby give him a birth year of 1727.  So there are many family trees that include this information.  If his marriage to Hannah Blackman in 1760 was his first marriage, then it is quite likely that he was born later than 1727.  I could put down a date guess of, say 1735 or 1740, but I fear that people will try to create his profile and, by putting in 1727 as the birth year, not see the existing one and create a duplicate.  So I am inclined to leave the birth year as 1727, although it is rather specific and probably wrong.  

What is the best course of action?  Right now I have set it as "after 1727", although I have no proof of that and that seems to make the status more certain than it really is.  Is 1727 with uncertain better?  Or some other approach?

Evidence that Field-4464 is the John b. 1727 to John and Mary (Howard) Field: John who married Mary Howard has a double gravestone with his father, on which they are named John 3rd and John 4th. There is a gravestone in Providence that says John Field son of John 4th, and lists birth year as 1727 and death year as 1794.  So it's pretty clear this is the gravestone for the John son of John and Mary (Howard) Field.  

That John left a will in 1794 in which he names his wife Lydia (living) and several children.  The marriage to Lydia in 1748 occurs in the Rhode Island VR, as do the births of three of the children named in the will, so Lydia was alive and married to John at the time of the 1760 marriage of John Field and Hannah Blackman.

WikiTree profile: John Field
in Policy and Style by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (312k points)
Never rely on secondary sources. That's the best rule. If you don't know what the primary source is, be very suspicious.

3 Answers

+10 votes
Best answer
Unfortunately I don't think anything is going to stop this (duplicates and confusion) from happening. To minimize:

First make sure good bios with sources are on both. Connect the correct families (if you can). At the top of the 'not born 1727' John add {{Estimated Date}}. Put about 1727 in the data field. In the section where you would add birth, explain why you used about 1727. Its a plausible estimate 33 at first marriage, but explain that it is common misconception and probably later say 1630 to 1640.

At the top of both pages put a Disambiguation section. This John is not John. with Links to the other John, showing some of the differences (the marriage)

ppp'ing will help to keeping them from being merged together, and prevent parents from being attached or unattached. They will need to be under the auspices of a project.
by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
selected by Barry Smith

I'm with you Anne!  I have also added the note or Disambiguation section to a "wrong" profile that keeps getting confused with the right one.  For example there were two Charles Wrights born the same year, in Nova Scotia, and both married an Anne.  One was my ancestor, but lots of secondary sources give him the parents of the other.  When I completed the sources and bio for both men, and put a note on both of the profiles, the volume of misinformation dropped dramatically. 

Part of how I learned the value of a complete and detailed bio, with sources.

Only one of the profiles is likely to be confounded by incorrect sources, since the other is well-represented by all sources I have seen.  For that reason, I had only put a disambiguation warning on the one profile, but as a research note.  I'll move it to the top to make it more visible.

 I see your point that someone might try to merge the two Johns, so a warning should be left on both profiles.  I'll add the second warning, and I'll ask the RI project to protect "Providence John" and the MA project to protect "Bridgewater John".
+4 votes
The best way to stop the duplication would be to get the right profile (4464) under PPP protection.

What is PPP?

PPP = profile protection project ( I think). It stops the last name and the parents from being changed or merged away.

If the other profile is a different person - then that one needs to get the right dates, spouse and parents ASAP
by Robynne Lozier G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
I see how the PPP protection would keep people from messing with the correct son.  But the other John Field has his own profile, and my question was about preventing duplicates of that one.  It is a different person, and AFAIK, no one knows the correct birth date and parents, hence my question about what to do with his birth year.
Then he needs an estimated year of birth that is different from the other fellow. You said that he was probably born at a diferent time based on his marriage so why dont you just put in an estimated year of birth. I normally use 20 years of age in that situation.
My question was specifically about the big problem that arises if I use {{DateGuess}}, i.e., an estimated birth year:  if I put a different year of birth for this fellow, say 1735, then all the people who come along later with a family tree that says "John Field, married Hannah Blackman" but show him born in 1727, as the false sources say, will not see the 1735 profile when they go to create a new one -- the years are too far apart for one to show up on the list of possible matches for the other. So it is likely that there will be duplicate profiles created over time.  My question identifies this problem and asks how best to avoid it.

Ann B. says to do the opposite -- not give him an estimated year of birth that is different from the other fellow, but actually make them the same -- because that will minimize creation of duplicate profiles.  But then I should go over-the-top in the profile to emphasize that it is probably the wrong year but explain why it is still being used.
+5 votes

I marked these two profiles as Rejected Matches -- that's an important first step toward ensuring that they won't be merged, since anyone who tries to merge them will be told that they are currently Rejected Matches.

I'm reluctant to add the requested PPP at the moment because the Field-4464 profile currently has no mother (if there's a documented mother, it's best to connect her before the PPP is applied). The profile that appears to represent the mother -- Howard-14991 --- made me nervous because it prominently cited the discredited Pierce Genealogy as a source. I'll check back tomorrow and see if the sourcing is tidied up and the mother is attached.

by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.6m points)
I found records of the marriage of John Feild and Mary Haward and the births of sons John and James in the Bridgewater VR transcriptions and entered them in.
I think I have now found the correct parents of the other John.  I'll edit his profile with the new information and see what you think.  I'm excited, because it appears that although that John moved to Attleborough between 1761 and 1763 and spent the rest of his life there, he lived close enough (or partly in) Cumberland and so shows up in the 1774 Census of RI and the 1777 Military Census (the latter shows him as resident in Attleborough).

Nope: never mind.  I have better information on that John, but I guess not his parents -- it seems his proposed father had eighteen children, six by his first wife, none named John, but the birth year for this John would necessitate him being her child.  I'll keep digging.
Okay, I think I figured out the parents of John who married Hannah Blackman.  Or at least, a solid-looking hypothesis.  I put the suggestion at the top of his bio and gave the analysis as a research note.

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