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Don't Jump - to Conclusions!

Getting the notification that you have a new potential match for your tree can be so exciting! At long last, could this be the missing link in your family tree? But STOP! Before you take the leap and accept and then extract all the relative info, do some research, like making sure you are not duplicating family members, or you may find yourself doing a lot more clicking removing the wrong ancestors.

Just because the name is the same and the census state is the same does not mean this record is YOUR ancestor. My 4X great grandfather, James Carroll, was born in 1795 in Pennsylvania, lived in Ohio, and died in Illinois. There is another James Carroll born in PA in 1796, lived in a neighboring county in Ohio, and also died in Illinois. Check the names and dates for all the children and the wife (or wives) before you click on "Confirm." Were the children born after a parent died? Check the source!

Verify the locations! Remember migrating families generally went West. If someone appears to have move back East, this may be the wrong person, or perhaps, another research avenue for you. Did they inherit the family farm and move back? Look for wills and land records!

questioning smiley face

If you are saving a record or person as a possibility to a public tree, be kind, and mark that person as such! Don't be a part of spreading false info in trees even unintentionally!

We must also be cautious not to jump to DNA conclusions! I watched a presentation by the "Legal Genealogist" Judy Russell (always a great learning experience - she is a great speaker) last weekend. It was entitled "When Enough is Enough" and was presented as part of the 24 hour Genealogy Webinar Marathon presented by MyHeritage and Legacy Family Tree Webinars (see link to the webinar library below).

evil twins

She pointed out some of the errors that can happen with DNA testing that we have seen in crime mysteries, like it was the evil twin (with identical DNA) or the person who had a bone marrow transplant (no original DNA left) that committed the crime and not the innocent protagonist of the story!

The Genealogy Proof Standard (GPS) directs us to perform reasonably exhaustive research, which requires that we identify and review all available records related to an individual. Good proof of your tree's validity requires thorough research of both the records and the DNA (when you can get it) to prove that the tree is correct.

It is said that genealogy is a marathon and not a sprint. If you've hit that brick wall, change your focus from that mystery. Go back through your tree. Look for more info on the siblings or cousins. If your luck is like mine, if I click on someone I haven't researched in a while I sometimes end up with dozens of new hints on those branches which may lead to more clues about my brick walls.

smiley with long eyelashes

If all else fails, you could hire a genealogist to look at your tree with fresh eyes. I can recommend at least one! Always a free quote on helping you research, send me an email at and let's talk.

JUST ANNOUNCED - The annual National Archives Genealogy Fair for 2023! Free seminars on YouTube, begin on May 3, no registration required. This year's theme is "Public Service: Military & Civilian." There will be one per week for 6 weeks, and there is an archive of prior broadcasts that I will be checking out soon!

Screen shot National Archives Genealogy Fair Info

Hope you have lots of May (Genealogy) flowers on your family trees,

Leslie Ryan

Legacy Family Tree Webinars looks interesting, but I have not joined yet. $49.95 for a yearly subscription. The site says they have over 1,970 seminars, over 300 speakers and thousands of pages of accompanying syllabi. The free 4th Annual 24 hour MyHeritage marathon had a good variety of topics from the basics to more advanced levels. You can check the webinar library at

No compensation is received for any of the links or references. No copyright infringement is intended.


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