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Be True to Your Tree

The increasing amount of genealogy data that can now be found on the internet today is both a blessing and a curse as we hunt for new ancestors or missing puzzle pieces of our family history. The blessing is the time and travel saved to view historical records that add new branches to our trees and help us tell our family story. The curse is in the lack of quality and creditability of some of the information out there which is being passed on as fact without the verification of a reliable source.

Being "true to your tree" means making sure that what you add to your tree, and share with the public, has been thoroughly reviewed and confirmed with source citations. Yes, this does take time and a good amount of effort to ensure the quality of your work however, keep in mind that your tree becomes a reflection of you as a genealogist, family historian or researcher. With so many wonderful genealogy sites providing information, including Ancestry.com (captured in the photo) we need to be driven by quality and high standards and not by the number of people in the tree. I use Ancestry’s shaky leaves as a starting point of new hints that need to be verified. Many are accurate ~ just as many are not.


As I browsed through the shaky leaves on my tree, I found the same source of “Ancestry Family Trees” on all ten hits of Ancestry Member Trees listed, which likely means someone created a tree and others copied the information to their tree and have now passed it on with multiple errors. These trees show Johann Adam Heiser with shared attached records and sources of “Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots” and “U.S. Civil War Soldiers” (serving in both wars is impossible as one started in 1776 and the other 1861 when he would have been over 100 years old). Additional attached records show “Worms, Germany, Births, Marriages, and Deaths”, written in German without translation, suggesting a birth date of 1844 (which means he was born 68 years after the start of the American Revolution), “Norway, Select Baptisms” show a baptism date of 1829 in Norway instead of Germany, the Find-A-Grave link shows him born in 1716 and a SAR application has a birth date of 1739 in Pennsylvania and a wife name Mary when their tree records her as Ann. This is madness!


We all need to raise the bar and standards for the content of our trees. Admitted I was guilty several years back of believing these sources to be true but after seeing so many errors first hand I’ve had to go back to review and revise my data.


By letting common sense prevail, checking that dates make sense, that sources are accurate and going the extra mile to check citations, we will safeguard our treasured family history and all be true to our trees. 🌳Happy hunting for those undiscovered ancestors and remember…


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