Often times we find ourselves befuddled about information that comes to us in the form of family history. Whether it is duplicated information with contrasting dates – or an extra spouse you weren’t planning on – or too many or too few children in the picture. Either way to be great at what we do, to truly know what we have is the right information we have to …….RESEARCH IT!
Let me explain – a Name Collector is someone who is so excited about their tree, they just want the fullest biggest, farthest back tree they can create! One problem – they don’t check the facts! They go online and gather names that look like they connect, or pilfer someone else’s research, and claim it as their own, we have all seen it, we may have even done it at one point in our lives. But Name collecting does not create a “healthy Family Tree”!
Remember my rule of 3 – you need to have a minimum of 3 valid sources (vital records, census, land, wills, etc.) to verify who and what you are connecting to your tree! — Don’t just be a name collector, really search out in your mind if that person belongs on your tree – this is my favorite part of doing research, it is a puzzle that never stops! 🙂
So what do I mean by all of this? you really need to verify people. I have two lines I am personally researching on my tree right now, one with the last name of DAVIS and the other with the last name of LEMM – two people on each line, with the same first and last name, and yes even born in the same year and area.
An idea to work through this type of mess or complicated problem is to do some of the following steps:
1. Create a time line in a spreadsheet or using Google Docs
2. Have all parties involved on the time line (spouse, children)
3. Take both your similar people and create the side by side comparison of each
In my circumstances, I had one James H. Davis that served in the military and one that did not, separating the two was pretty difficult since their identifying information was so similar. Once I laid them out, line by line I identified the similarities and the glaring differences.
After doing my due diligence, however, I soon found out that they were 1st cousins, with names in honor of their Grandfather! This helped the situation quite a bit, since doing this research I was able to go back to their grandfather and opened up more leaves on my branches…….which lets face it folks, is always exciting!