Jun 3, 2022

(+) Barking Up the Wrong Tree

The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Subtitle: Do as I say, not as I have done.

I well remember the day that I lost about 100 ancestors. It could happen to you.

In my case, early in my genealogy endeavors, I was adding information about “new” ancestors in great haste. Well, they weren’t really new; they had always been my ancestors, but their names were new to me in those days. I’d find a new ancestor, record his or her information, then move on and find the parents. In the early days of my genealogy searches, it was easy to add new ancestors. After all, everyone has thousands of ancestors and, when you are new to the game, the records can be easy to find. This is especially true for French-Canadian genealogy as the Catholic Church did a great job in the 1800s of recording almost every christening and marriage and most funerals, usually including the name of the parents in each record. Those records are easy to find on microfilms and in printed books and, in recent years, in online databases.

As a genealogy newcomer, however, I didn’t know about the need for double and triple-checking for accuracy.

One day I found a record for one of my French-Canadian great-great-grandfathers. There was but one problem: I had already documented him (or someone else) but with different dates of birth, marriage, and death, and with a different wife. I had no choice but to go back and double-check the original records I had previously transcribed.

I’ll skip over the boring details and go directly to the bottom line: I had found and transcribed information about the wrong man! Who knew that two different men, living in the same small town in northern Maine at the same time, would have the same name? Yes, there were two different men named Joseph Theriault living in the same town.

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