I’ve redacted the identifying information from this “facts” posting in a tree at Ancestry.com.
The frustrating thing is that there are errors in this tree. Not just dates or locations slightly off, but a child the person did not have. There is also a place of birth on the wrong side of the ocean, a marriage and a divorce that did not take place, and a residence location nearly fifty years after the person died and nearly one hundred and twenty-five years after they were born.
That residence was not the cemetery where the ancestor is buried. It’s over eight hundred miles away.
This is a person whose life during 1849 through 1903 I have researched fairly extensively. She is not an ancestor I just discovered last week. There are a variety of records on her during the 1849 through 1903 time period and they paint a consistent picture of her life.
And, according to this “facts” page, my ancestor had a child before she was born.
Without going into details, what apparently happened is that another researcher assumed the maiden name of this ancestor was not her maiden name but instead was the surname of her first husband.
A husband I did not know about and with whom my ancestor had a child before she was actually born.
I’m as certain as one can be in genealogical research that the husband this ancestor married in 1849 was her first husband. That’s because the last name for her on that 1849 marriage record matches the last name she gives for her father in a later marriage record.
The “facts” page gives a completely different maiden name for this ancestor. And that’s a name that absolutely no record on this person between 1849 and 1903 gives. Not even close. It’s a name that is so phonetically different from Barbara’s maiden name in the 1849 marriage record that a case simply can’t be made for the last names being “close enough.”
I’ve given up on expecting Ancestry.com to force people to look at information in trees that is obviously incorrect. The cynic in me is firmly convinced that the philosophy at Ancestry.com is that the more trees that are on the site, the better. The more stuff paying customers have to wade through (or are willing to wade through), the longer they will be paying subscribers.
The submitter of this tree has this same information in at least three trees on the Ancestry.com site. Unfortunately researchers who go with the “majority rules” theory will conclude that the information is correct. There’s not much I can do about that.
And, I can’t force someone to correct their tree. It’s just not possible. I also can’t play the genealogy police and contact every person whose tree has a mistake. That’s a losing battle and takes time away from actual research.
What I can do is have my tree (if I choose to have one on Ancestry.com) be as correct as I can make it. I can create blog posts with the correct information in hopes that researchers will find it. If I ever get the time, I can even publish my findings in some print form.
This ancestor’s life deserves to be told as accurately as possible.