Other People’s Online Trees – A Word of Caution

You’ll often find links to possible ancestors on other people’s online trees productive. They can give information that is completely new to you. However, always treat the information with a deal of scepticism.

DNA Links – Ancestry.co.uk

When my Ancestry DNA test results arrived I was eager to try out the facility that provides links to likely relatives on other trees. I checked a possible link to a first or second cousin. The link was rated as extremely high.Sure enough, I found first cousins. I also found my maternal grandparent’s line on the tree.

Informed and misinformed

My grandparents’ name was Tyson but it appeared on this tree in some individuals as Tisson. I discovered that this originated as a mistake in transcription.The images of original documents clearly showed the name Tyson. The handwriting on original documents can often be difficult to read so errors in transcription are easily made and not uncommon.

According to this tree, I appeared to have no less than six more aunts and uncles that I never knew. Now I know that it is possible that a previously unknown individual could have died in early infancy but these were people that had lived well into adulthood; I certainly would have been aware of them.

It also alleged that my mother’s eldest sister, Elsie was born in 1908 only seven months after my mother. My mother was indeed born in 1908 but I know for sure that my aunt Elsie was older and was born in 1905.

The tree did, however, provide a link to a first cousin. Sadly it informed me that another cousin I had lost contact with had died. Reassuringly, it was also confirmation that my DNA results were genuine and there had been no mix-up with the sample.

The moral is, always check the original document or online image and (despite their usefulness) never completely trust all the information on other peoples online trees. Don’t be led up the garden even if the trees are interesting and potentially fruitful.

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