By the time we reach the age of 40, we realize mistakes are a part of life. Some mistakes are small interruptions easily fixed. Other mistakes make us cringe while still others toss us back in our chair and make us wonder how and why we had gone through so much trouble. We also might wonder if we'll ever get it right. We might even consider giving up.
But, as I mentioned, mistakes are a part of life. They sometimes lead us in new directions that might not have otherwise been considered. It's like taking the wrong road and discovering a pioneer cemetery at the end.
When mistakes appear in genealogy, it's best to admit it as soon as it's discovered. Alert those with whom you've shared the information, so they can correct it in their database. The worse thing to do is to ignore a mistake. Just like lies, mistakes can grow with very little effort if not corrected.
One way to avoid mistakes is to be thorough. For example, don't take the first John Fraser you find in a record and assume this is the John Fraser you are looking for. Chances are there was more than one individual by this common name in a community. Review the entire record and take note of everyone by that name. Then find more than one piece of evidence indicating you have found the right person.
When it comes to common names, the parents' names may not be enough. There were many William MacDonalds who married Elizabeth, more than one John Taylor who married Jane. Fewer mistakes are made when time is taken to do a thorough search and the extra step of examining the evidence is done.
Genealogy is an exciting hobby and many of us get caught up in the thrill of the search. We find names, relate them to one another and begin building trees that can look like tangled webs. If we continue to work on every family line and chase down every lead for every individual, things will soon get confusing. Mistakes are less likely to be made if only a few lines are researched at a time. Once a line has been exhausted, begin tracing another.
Mistakes occur more often when the research is stacked, piled and shoved in drawers, on shelves and in boxes. Time is also wasted if sources aren't recorded and are searched twice for the same purpose. Research that is well organized means laying your fingers on the required information in seconds instead of hours.
Somewhere during your research, you'll uncover information in an unfamiliar format. Don't assume you know what the abbreviations, notations and specific terms mean. Take the time to learn the basics or find someone who knows how to decipher the document. Genealogy is a learning experience. Not everyone knows everything, so don't hesitate to ask for help. Keep learning and, along with your family history, you'll become knowledgeable on wills, land grants, vital records and everything else that touches our lives.
Avoiding mistakes can be done by keeping an open mind. Life for our ancestors was different from the way we live today. What was normal then may seem strange today and vice versa. Don't assume anything. That's usually our first mistake.
Seeking information on Margaret Forbes and Peter Doyle. It's believe Margaret (c.1806 - 1898, Dutch Village Road, Halifax) was born in Hants County and Peter in Halifax. Their children (and spouses) were Margaret (Charles Hosterman, need proof), Moses Peter (Sarah Cunningham) and Stephen (Mary Farley/Farrelly). Contact: Madeline L. Toft, 25 Charger St., Revere, Ma. USA; email: email@example.com
Diana Lynn Tibert is a freelance writer living in Milford. Submit a query. It's free!: RR#1 Milford, Hants County, NS, B0N 1Y0; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.