I don’t understand Ancestry – as in the online family tree builder, not the concept of discovering our ancestors. Perhaps I’ve just never learned how to use it properly, blissfully unaware all this time of how it actually works. Call me naïve, but I was under the impression that only I can add information to my family tree, unless I specifically give permission for someone else to do so. Which I haven’t. So why do I keep coming across people I don’t remember putting there? And that includes glaring errors!
Take a case in point. Having established who was the mystery aunt recently (see Propaganda and Mystery) I was curious to see if, however unlikely, the Annie Dean in question had any family connection to my grandfather’s first wife, Ada Dean (which would be intriguing, given we’re talking about completely opposite sides of my tree).
I’ve never, to my recollection, researched Ada’s family. As far as I’m aware, I’ve only ever looked at what happened to her beyond her marriage to my grandfather in 1895. So I was surprised to note that when I went to read her entry on my tree, listed there were her parents and thirteen siblings, some of whom were duplicates. But even more baffling was that she had two alleged fathers – Thomas Joseph Dean and Joseph Thomas Dean – along with two different entries for the 1871 census.
There is no way I’d have added such information, as I know perfectly well from the marriage records of Ada to my grandfather, that Ada’s father was called Thomas Joseph Dean and he was a commercial traveller, as stated in the first of the 1871 census entries.
Losing my mind or my memory?
So how did it get there? I’ve actually asked the question of Ancestry before now, when it's happened before, as well as on a family history forum but no one has ever come up with a satisfactory explanation. Did I inadvertently scoop up a bundle of incorrect data which was somehow inextricably linked to one small snippet of information that I did add? Or was it so long ago that I’ve forgotten I did add it way, way back, when I didn’t know what I was doing?
I’m seriously considering whether to start a brand-new tree, only harvesting and adding very specific data, making paper notes as I go along so I know exactly what should be there and shouldn’t be, and see if other stuff jumps on to it without me doing anything. Then I’ll know whether I’m going mad or not!
Meanwhile, if you do know what’s happening, please tell! I’d be forever grateful!
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