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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Borrowing From Trees on Ancestry.com

Beg, borrow, and steal.....Ok, steal is a bit too forward.  Beg....I'm not opposed to asking for family tree information from those who have the research done and I know are of my family line.  I suppose that it is not really begging as I am more than willing to share in return.  As for borrowing from a tree off Ancestry.com, that leaves something to be desired.  My uncle warned me just about a year ago...."Buyer Beware!".  Not everyone on Ancestry.com checks their facts and sources their tree.

If you post your family tree as a public tree on Ancestry.com, you'd have to expect that eventually someone will try and borrow information from it.  How else would a college professor or other relatives have found me (or I found them)?  Well, they are the real deal in looking for my specific Flanagan Family line.   They do, in fact, "get it" and have the line with the associated history and stories of this family.

I had someone select Michael Flanagan (1839-1904) from my tree as a direct line ancestor for their tree last summer.  Given that Michael never married or had children, made it rather impossible for that person to be one of Uncle Mike's great grandchildren.  I sent them a quick message to let them know.  Once they had linked into Michael, they had "sucked in" all of my information in the past up to my original Patrick Flanagan ancestor.  Oops!  That's a lot of people to "back off" of one's tree.  Mistakes happen but this is why it is so important to check what you've pulled over to your own tree online.

What I noticed the other day, is someone else borrowing from the distant past of my Flanagan Tree.  They were borrowing Patrick Flanagan (The Grandfather) and Judith Kirwan along with Richard Flanagan and Alice Bellew.  I think that the person found a decent match and picked Patrick and Judith.  This person's John Flanagan of Cavan was married to a Barbara Maguire.  Apparently, his line continues with an Elizabeth Flanagan.  The "John" matches, right?   Not really.

Are there other Flanagan's from County Louth, specifically, in the Termonfechin Area?  You bet there are a few.  I am just not all the familiar with those lines and much of the information does run cold into the more current generations.  Going back 300 years, they were probably all related to one another.  
                                                  
So John is a common name.  John Flanagan is probably pretty common too.  What do you think I did next to my Flanagan comrade?  I emailed him, of course.  I peeked at his tree and let him know where he got off track.  Frankly, I just don't want people thinking that their line is one way when it is not.  Let's face it, I like accuracy, insasmuch as that is possible on a family tree.

How sourced is my Flanagan Family Tree on Ancestry.com?  Not very.  It's hard to attach 240 years of written history to include letters, farm account books, and a PowerPoint Presentation on a DVD.  At this point, I have to consider making my Flanagan Family Tree on Ancestry.com a private tree.  I am not setting a very good example by not sourcing it online while making it public.  As is probably obvious, it will be hard to fix the online tree given the way I maintain the sourcing.

I guess for now, the tree will be private.  Those who have been invited to it will still be able to see it via their invited guest status.  Everyone else would need to contact me and discuss their connection to this line.

2 comments:

  1. Awesome post!!! I just wrote on several corrections of various people's family trees, as well as asking people to please "cite" the family history book I wrote and the website I allowed a cousin to use information and certain old family photos. I own the original 1840 photos. I am happy to share images of the originals.. but please site. I have worked to locate these items for over 30 years, and in my collection are previous family historians collections.... all sourced and available.... It is important to save and document, and share, but mis-information and not sourcing the original data and vital records....gives no foundation or support to the tree.

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