Monday, March 12, 2012

Tracing the wrong branch

I've been researching my family tree for (and I almost hate to admit how long) 20 years and I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. Genealogists like to pride themselves on research and pinning down facts in order to prove (or disprove) whether or not a name, date or place in their family tree is accurate. That way when others look at the work they've done they don't have to question it but can look up the record for themselves. Unfortunately, when you get on a track and go with your instincts as far as tracing a branch, you do always have that small chance that you can be completely wrong and therefore end up chasing the wrong branch and in some cases the wrong tree entirely.

Well that is what has happened to me. As much as any genealogist hates to admit they are wrong, it turns out I was when it came to a branch of my tree. Granted its not a direct line that now has to be altered but a side branch that shows 'half' brothers, sisters and the like. A paternal great-grandfather was married twice and the branch I got 'wrong' has to do with his first wife's family, specifically her father's side. But I have to admit, her father's name is what threw a wrench into the research.

The worst part I suppose is that I trace the name back a great deal and I'm actually glad that it isn't a direct line because that would set my research back a number of years. But even though its not a direct line I now have a bunch of information that I now have to remove from my tree unless I can connect the correct branch to the one I previously thought was the right one.

The lesson learned here, it isn't a big deal to trace the wrong branch of your tree, but provided it isn't a direct line, it NEVER hurts to double and even triple check information and facts before putting it in your tree. However, if you put the names, dates and places in and come to find out later that branch is the wrong one, don't panic, because you might still find a link and instead of removing all that hard work (and time that got wasted) you can just shift a few names around and save yourself from having to re-enter the information later when (and if) you do find a connection. After all, whether you've been researching for two years or twenty, everyday can be a learning experience.