Sunday, June 26, 2011


Back when I first discovered online genealogy, I downloaded the free PAF
program from FamilySearch at the suggestion of my late friend Diana Probus
and entered all the information that my Aunt Dorothy had sent my Dad. Then
I entered information from Florence O'Connor's book about the Ellingwood
branch of my family.

And then I made a mistake. I name-gathered.  Here was all this information
on FamilySearch that went back centuries that I would never have found so
quickly on my own!  So I downloaded gedcom after gedcom into my tree.
To make matters worse, because I'm not the brightest of people at times, I
ended up sometimes importing a gedcom several times. Now I had multiple
entries for people on my tree,

 I compounded my mistakes by uploading the tree to Ancestry. Now the
information from Aunt Dorothy and Cousin Florence as well as a Barker
family genealogy a Barker cousin had sent me gave me a solid foundation
to start with and I've been adding citations and sources to that as time and
energy allowed. And as time went on and I became wiser in the ways of
the Genea-force, I checked and double-checked anything else I might add
to that foundation. Eventually I switched to RootsMagic as my primary
hard drive genealogy program and used the merge functions on it and on
PAF to clean up the duplicates.

But there is no merge function on least as far as I know).
I could delete my present Ancestry tree there and upload what I've cleaned up 
so far but I'm afraid I'd lose all the citations and document images I've found.
So I am using a more laborious method: first, I"d capitalized all the surnames on
my tree when I originally uploaded it . Now I started working backwards from
myself on each individual. I go into their "View Profile" page, check the information,
check and add any documents Ancestor might have that I don't already have
attached to the individual, then click on "Edit this person" and adjust the surname
from the all caps. Then I search for the same person's name in the "Find a person
in this tree" search box and then delete any duplicates with capitalized surnames
who match the individual I just corrected.

It's a long process given the number of names on my tree and it's why I haven't
been blogging as frequently as I normally have in the past. Think of it as the
genealogical equivalent of Bart Simpson at the chalkboard.

Only this time, he's writing:
"I will not name-gather"
"I will not name-gather"

"I will not name-gather"
"I will not name-gather"

"I will not name-gather".....


plc718 said...

I think this is so common and I really like your unique way of fixing your tree rather than deleting and starting over.

txlynnage said...

I think many people in the past (myself included) have been guilty of this.......Some never realize the error of their ways while others "see the light" so to speak and change their ways. I have been researching 21 years and have lots to clean up.

I feel your pain!
Laura Flanagan

Cheryl Cayemberg said...

I understand completely! I think most of us have done something similar when first bitten by the genealogy bug! My problem was that my tree was absorbed into the Ancestry One World Tree and I could no longer change/edit/remove information even though they associated my email address with it! Crazy!

I love your solution to the problem! Are the items sourced in your RootsWeb program? If they are wouldn't those transfer if you uploaded the clean tree? I haven't uploaded one in years because if the problems I had with the last one that I'm still fixing! :)

Bill West said...

Cheryl-Yes, I've dl to RootsMagic once and the citations do transfer but the images of the documents
(Census records,etc.)don't. So once I get the Ancestry tree cleaned up I'll start loading the images into RM. I already have dl most of them to my hard drive already.

Thanks to you and pic718 for your comments!

Bill West said...

Laura- I have heard from others who started out the same way as I did. One of the great things about discovering genealogy blogs for me was learning the better methods of doing genealogy and becoming more aware of how to avoid mistakes through what I read on the geneablogs.

Thanks for the comment!

Nancy said...

Oh, I'm so sorry for all the work you have to do. I'm so grateful I never downloaded trees - even more so now that I've ready your painful situation. Best wishes that it will go fairly quickly and smoothly. It will all come out right at the end, I'm sure.

Claudia's Genealogy Blog said...

I have the same problem. I e-mailed Ancestry and the do NOT have a merge function. Guess I just have to go and clean up one by one and get it done.

Then delete the tree, right now my information is redundant and I am a bit overwhelmed myself. I only have about 200 people though because I did not add people without proof.

Barbara Poole said...

Bill, I think a lot of people do what you did. Why not, everybody wants lots of names. At least you are doing it correctly and spreading the news of how to do it wrong. When I began, I had to write everything down, as I didn't have a computer in 1989, so I was lucky. Good luck.

Charles Hansen said...

Well I started out collecting GEDCOMs from Family Search also, but I did not import any of those GEDCOMs into my database, I would make a new database and look at that GEDCOM and if it had some information on my family I would type that information into my database, never ever used import and still think that was a good idea.

Bill West said...

Claudia- I'd delete mine but I have over 5000 documents and 25,000 names(although I'm sure there are many duplicates among those). At this point, it would be just as much work to rebuild the tree as it is to edit it.

Thanks for the comment!

Bill West said...

Barbara & Nancy-Thanks for the comments!

Bill West said...

Charles-I wish I had thought it through more like you did when I started. I believe it's the idea of
being able to gather so much information so quickly online that leads newcomers like I was then to genealogy astray.

Thanks for your comment.

*The Old Geezer said...

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God Bless and Have a Nice Day :-)