In my last post I discussed putting family trees online and commented on the search I usually do online for my great-grandfather, Asa McDaniel (1827-1901). In particular I mentioned the searches on Ancestry. I have also used the new Family Tree on FamilySearch to see what information other researchers have on my family members. I did the same search for Asa as for other online family trees.
Summary of search parameters for Asa McDaniel (1827-1901) used on FamilySearch Genealogies
Some of the same problems surface on the contributed files as they have on Ancestry, possibly because the same people are the ones uploading the information to both websites. For Asa McDaniel, a search yielded three entries, one in the Ancestral file and two in the Pedigree Resource File. All had basically the same information for Asa and his family. The Ancestral File information listed a number of contributors of the information but no way to contact any of them and nor any list of sources. The Pedigree Resource files are similar although one has no ancestors past Asa’s presumed father, William McDaniel.
Copies of Ancestral and Pedigree summaries for Asa Harvey McDaniel on FamilySearch.org Genealogies showing children, ancestors, additional information and sources
In both files, the parentage of Asa is in doubt, with the same mistake in death date and place for his father, William. The information was combined from a number of contributors however I see no way to contact any of them. In the old FamilySearch Genealogies file there were actually email addresses for some of the contributors although when I checked them they were out-of-date so I could not ask anyone about their information. A similar problem to that I encountered on Ancestry exists on the FamilySearch data, that is, confusing two different men named William McDaniel. And the file still has that strange bit about him dying in Ohio in 1857 but appearing on the 1860 census in Virginia! But at least a description of some documents is summarized which could be checked.
Pedigree Resource file for William McDaniel, father of Asa McDaniel
There are a number of notes for both Asa and William appended to the files. I did note again that the story and much of the information is directly from my aunt’s family write-up and, once more, without attribution or comments as to its accuracy.
Online family trees are interesting and can be valuable in finding new information. But they can also be full of errors and, unfortunately, most do not list the sources of information. Those that do, such as FamilySearch, can still be incomplete and not have the contact information for the people who posted the data.
The question becomes, do I just take the tidbits I can find on family trees such as those at FamilySearch and the look for the material to support the information. Or do I try to offer corrections to those files. I think if I tried the latter, I would spend all my time attempting to correct information on published trees at the expense of doing my own research and looking for real documents.