Another example of why not to accept automated systems

So The Legal Genealogist opened the email program this morning and there it was.

A personal discovery, just for me, according to the automated system notice from one of the big genealogical companies.1

Another user had traced one of my nemesis ancestors back further in time than I’ve managed, and I can “add an entire branch to (my) family tree with 12 people, in just a few clicks!”

I’d love to be able to do that with Philip Shew, my fifth great grandfather, whose parents and grandfather and more are in that branch of 12 people I can add to my tree with those few clicks.

Philip was born c1750, and we’re not sure where he was before he showed up on the census in Guilford County, North Carolina, in 1790.2 He was in Wilkes County, North Carolina, by 1810,3 and still there in 18204 and 1830.5 His will was proved in the Wilkes County court in the October term 1832.6

We don’t have a clue in the paper trail who Philip’s parents were. And boy would it be nice to add them.

So, dear reader, you tell me whether I should go ahead and add these folks with just those few clicks:

Add a branch

Right. Philip, born 1750. Hans Ulrich in 1685. A 65-year-old father. Not impossible, but not likely. And Hans Ulrich’s one-and-only-ever wife, Anna, born 1678. Which would make her 72 years old when Philip was born.

Sigh.

I love discovering things that relate to family history.

But discovering fiction?

That I can do without.

And the moral of this story is: never ever ever accept automated add-to-your-tree suggestions without thoroughly checking the facts on which those suggestions are based.


Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Discovering fiction,” The Legal Genealogist (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : posted 16 Sep 2019).

SOURCES

  1. I’m not saying which one because they all do this: they all give us hints based on submissions of other users that we can accept. But usually shouldn’t…
  2. 1790 U.S. census, Guilford County, North Carolina, p. 505 (penned), col. 1, line 17, Philip Shoe; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 July 2002); citing National Archive microfilm publication M637, roll 7.
  3. 1810 U.S. census, Wilkes County, North Carolina, p. 865 (penned), line 10, Phillip Shew; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 July 2002); citing National Archive microfilm publication M252, roll 43.
  4. 1820 U.S. census, Wilkes County, North Carolina, population schedule, p. 530 (stamped), Phillip Shew; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 August 2002); citing National Archive microfilm publication M33, roll 83.
  5. 1830 U.S. census, Wilkes County, North Carolina, p. 383 (stamped), Phillip Shew; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 July 2002); citing National Archive microfilm publication M19, roll 125.
  6. Wilkes County, North Carolina, Will Book 4:159; North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
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