Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Goodbye, Farewell, Auf Weidersehen, Until I see you again

My sweet mother-in-law passed away this evening from complications of Alzheimer's. Even though we've been expecting the call, it still came as a bit of a shock. I don't know how you ever truly prepare yourself for news like this, even when you know it's coming.

Isn't it sad that one of the first thoughts that ran through my mind was that I needed to go ahead and create her FindAGrave.com memorial before someone else created it? None of her children or other in-laws would think of creating it. I'm the one who loves family history.

So, even though her funeral arrangements are to be determined, I created her FindAGrave memorial. I'll update it with a brief bio and the name of the cemetery where she will be buried as soon as my sister-in-law gives me the information.

Why did I do that? Because there are folks who jump ahead of family, who cull names and obituaries from funeral home websites before the grieving family can get back from the funeral home after making arrangements. Errors propagate as these folks don't know the deceased and obituaries often contain errors.

Some of the memorial creators are either unwilling to make updates or are too overwhelmed by the sheer volume of memorials they have created to make updates. FindAGrave has tried to help by implementing automatic updates, but those can be overridden by the memorial manager. Yet, when the error is in the bio section, the memorial manager is the one who controls the updates.

Rest in peace, Maggie.



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mislinked relatives and headaches

I've had a headache for almost 10 years, and it's due to a mislinked relative. Someone has my great grandmother listed as the daughter of her uncle, and it's causing all sorts of problems in the family tree.

There are two first cousins, both female, with similar names. Martha was born around 1836 to Stephen and Jane. Stephen's brother, Jacob, and his wife, Mary Ann, have a daughter they name Martha Elmina in 1841.

Jacob dies in a sawmill accident in 1844, leaving his wife Mary Ann and their two small daughters, Martha Elmina (1841) and Emily Elvira.

Martha Elmina (1841) and Emily are listed with Mary Ann in the 1850 census. Stephen, Jane, and Martha (1836) are listed together in the 1850 census.

By the 1860 census, Martha Elmina (1841) has married William and is listed with him. Martha (1836) is not listed with her parents in the 1860 census, and we have found no marriage or death records for her. After the 1860 census, we find no records for Martha (1836).

Martha Elmina (1841), her husband William, sister Emily, brother-in-law James and mother Mary Ann are all listed by name and relationship in a probate document for Jacob, father of Martha Elmina (1841). Martha Elmina (1841) is listed as Jacob's daughter, not as his niece.

An enterprising family history researcher has listed Martha (1836) and Martha Elmina (1841) as the daughters of Stephen and Jane for about 10 years. And for the last 10 years, I've tried to convince her that this is not true, giving her chapter and verse complete with documentation. Martha Elmina (1841) needs to be linked to her parents, and not to her aunt and uncle.

She removed Martha Elmina's (1841) marriage, husband, and children, and called it a day. She left the copy of Martha Elmina's (1841) death certificate with Martha Elmina's (1841) married name, the wrong name for her father (Sam - a misinterpretation of Jacob's middle name, Beachum) and the nickname (Annie) for Martha Elmina's (1841) mother, Mary Ann. Along come more family history researchers who accept her information as valid, and the misinformation is spread further.

Once or twice a year, I go through and contact the new researchers to alert them to the error. Few respond, and even fewer make the correction. Every few years, I send another correction request to the family history researcher who originated the error.

Great grandmother Elmina, I'm attempting to get your records corrected on those trees. I feel like I'm beating my head against a brick wall and it's giving me a splitting headache. I will continue the crusade to correct your branch of the family tree. Let's just hope I can get it done before I'm just a leaf on the tree myself.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a few more new researchers to contact before I go back to trying to uproot the family tree.

Happy digging!