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Avoid the Following

It is easy to make mistakes while doing your family history research, the best researchers can get a name or date wrong. The main thing is to review what you have collected, gather evidence to support your findings and make the corrections.

Too often one forgets some of the common errors in genealogical research and they do need to be reminded the pitfalls. So the following are a few of the hazards to avoid.

People assume if they come across people (living or decease) with their same surname (even very unusual ones) that they must be related. No, even taking taking the lineage back hundreds of years you might not find a tie-in or common ancestor. Do investigate, but don’t take for granted you are related to that other branch with the same name.

Another misconception is that every family has a unique coat of arms or family crest. False, a coat of arms was used to be a symbol to identify a certain warrior, but not necessarily to carry as the family symbol forever. Most people do not have a real family coat of arms.

To do the research and writing down of your full family lineage should take about a week’s time or less. No way can a person, even a professional work and be accurate in one week. The key is to be patient, take your time and it will all come together. You are covering many individuals over decades of time, it can not be done in a fraction of time.

Never accept that everything presented on the Internet is 100% accurate about your family tree. There can be so many errors you will have everything mixed up after comparing the numerous other versions. Start with what you know is the truth or verified with official documents (several of them). Do use to the Internet, but never use it as your sole one source.

Check the dates and don’t just write what you find down first thing. Even official governmental or church records have errors in the dates written. I have yet to see any official record (census, marriage, birth, death, social security, military, passport, etc) where are not errors, especially with dates. The month and year can be correct, but the day is wrong, might only be by one day, but still wrong. Compare and sight sources to see which date is the most consistent.

Lastly, remember to list the sources of any information. You need to create a citation (a record) of where a name, date, location, military regiment, etc. was located. Even if it was the family Bible – note which family and who holds that Bible. You will find that noting sources to be extremely helpful later.

Photo: A marriage bond issued at the marriage of Elizabeth Groff and William H. Brantner in Jefferson – Berkeley Co., Virginia for Sept. 9, 1847. Another handwritten record issued from the same county has the correct month and day, but the year clearly written as 1849. A third county marriage record was located with the year 1847, plus their first child was born July 10, 1848.

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