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Phantom Limbs in the Family Tree

May 12, 2016 3 Comments

my ethnicity map

my ethnicity map

My research into family history started after both my parents had died. They each left some written material about their families, but neither parent had been particularly interested in genealogy.  My father said he was Scots-Irish, which is in part true.  Both parents had ancestors who immigrated to America from the British Isles in the 1600s.  The DNA survey on ancestry shows that my DNA is 85% from Great Britain.  When the survey was much younger and fewer participants had contributed my ethnicity was estimated at 99% from the British Isles.  My “trace region” is the Caucasus area of Asia.  The Asian genes may be a fluke, as explained in the accompanying material.

my tree

my tree

I am sure about the first three generations I have listed, but my maternal grandmother was an orphan adopted in Mississippi in a county where the courthouse burned to the ground.  We have no way to find records of her natural parents.  She moved to Texas with her adoptive family.  Some of the branches are easy to research and verify.  Others have me at dead ends. My most irksome dead end is my third great-grandfather, Thomas Peterson, born in Indiana in 1825.  I keep looking for answers about his parentage but have not found any records of his birth.  More official historical records are digitally added all the time, so I could still find something new that would break the case for me.  It bugs me that I can trace his nephew’s line back in time, but not Thomas’.

Along the way I have discovered my own mistakes, and have also had problems pointed out to me by other ancestry enthusiasts.  It is always a drag to find errors because it means you need to remove the phantom family and start again at the point you can verify the data.  I have lost a few big limbs this way.  I had become fond of many of the members of my unverified people.  It is funny to give them up with such great emotion, since they were not really my ancestors, but I can tell you that this feels awful.  I still think about them in history too.  Sometimes I am angry that I made such mistakes in my research, but usually I am glad I met them (historically) and held them in my memory.  When my first cousin gave me the news that I had the wrong John Taylor as my 3rd great-grandfather I was very upset.  I had to admit that she had a point.  This involved chopping down a limb that I had built back to the middle ages in England, with many illustrious stories along the way.  Alas, they were all built on specious data.  Now I am back to Jonathan Aaron Taylor, who fought in the Revolutionary War and was discharged in South Carolina..not born there. I suppose I am happy to have him even though he is not who I thought he was.

Jonathan Aaron Taylor (1760 – 1820)
3rd great-grandfather
John Samuel Taylor (1798 – 1873)
son of Jonathan Aaron Taylor
William Ellison Taylor (1839 – 1918)
son of John Samuel Taylor
George Harvey Taylor (1884 – 1941)
son of William Ellison Taylor
Ruby Lee Taylor (1922 – 2008)
daughter of George Harvey Taylor
Pamela Morse
I am the daughter of Ruby Lee Taylor

Have you ever attempted an ancestry study?  It is really easy now that Ancestry.com is there to guide you.  Just be careful as you roam around in that data. Not all of it can be verified, especially the family trees.  Don’t copy another person’s data until you examine it carefully for errors. The ancestors have much to teach us..and one of the lessons is VERIFY your facts before you swallow them whole. Save yourself the heartache of saying good-bye to bogus relatives.

 

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