Monday, August 17, 2009

Madness Monday - James L. Clawson Jr.

My latest madness caused by an ancestor is my great-great grandfather named James L. Clawson Jr.

My madness comes from the mass amounts of unsourced and misinformation that is on the web for this line. My main frustration is that I have contributed to this misinformation before and despite my best effots to try and fix my newbie mistakes, I know that I will never be able to fully correct everything.

When I first began my research, this was a line that I commonly researched. I loved how easy it was to copy and paste information from other trees in and FamilySearch. I was copying and pasting faster than I could keep up with and I never checked for sources. I rarely gave credit to the tree that I gained the information from. I didn't look at the information to see if it even made sense (a lot of did not). To rub salt into the wound, I began spreading this incorrect information all over the web - in fact, I was posting my family tree anywhere I could put it.

So last year, when I started my family tree from scratch (in order to make sure my research would be fully sourced and as complete as possible), I was forced to become face to face with a lot of my misinformation. While I've been posting the correct information that I've found thus far (and always including my sources), I still have a long way to go.

Just yesterday, I messaged 7 people through about James L. Clawson Jr. I asked questions about the sources that people had to support a specific fact or event. I got my first response late last night. That response outlined an old tree that I had submitted to FamilySearch - and oh was it was full of incorrect information.

To be honest (and this is a bit embarrassing to admit), I almost cried in frustration. I know that I spent the first 5 years of my genealogy experience copying and spreading wrong information that was nearly completely unsourced. Yet, despite my best efforts over the last year to correct my wrongs, I haven't even made a dent.

So I replied to the first response and included the correct information, along with source citations for what I have. I also apologized for the wrong information that I had previously posted. I then offered to send him a .pdf file that includes what I have on the line if he wanted to provide his email.

So in my quest to find more information (that is correct and sourced) about my great-great grandfather, I am also on a quest to correct the misinformation out there. Oh it is going to be a looooooooong quest.


Brian said...

I did mostly the same thing. I'm still trying to delete an old tree from Rootsweb (now Ancestry) that I uploaded with no luck.

Even though sourcing takes much more time, I do feel more satisfied when I'm done.

Elizabeth O'Neal said...

I've spent the past week and a half sourcing my great-grandfather's family, which I've been "researching" for over 20 years. I found documents with no labels, obits with no newspaper information or dates... it's just a mess.

I sure wish I'd started doing it "right" at the beginning, but times were different then. We did things the PAF way, which is no longer considered proper.

You'll get there. It just takes (so very much) time. Good luck, and be proud that you're correcting past mistakes.

Unknown said...

I understand your frustration. I sent out a mailing 30 years ago that included information from another source saying that one researcher had specualted a female ancestor might be of a certain family line but that it was just speculation. It has been picked up over the years and, now it appears in many postings as she was for sure of that surname. My efforts to correct this seems to fall on deaf ears. It was also a mistake of the period when I had just srated researching.

genegirl99 said...

*pats Elyse on the back*

It's okay, we're all entitled to make mistakes, if we don't we won't grow. Just take it one bite at at time, and I'm sure you'll get it done.

I've been slowly working on getting my stuff sourced. When I import gedcoms from now on I'm cleaning up their sources and citing the gedcoms using the common ancestor I downloaded from.

Unknown said...

Aren't you relieved to know you're not the only one? I am - after spending the last YEAR re-entering my database only if it had a complete source! At least we have learned from our mistake, can warn others not to do the same thing, and have become better genealogists for it.

Tracey said...

Firstly, thank you for last nights chat regarding blogs it was very informative.

I've been searching my tree for 21 years now and only now that i've started to blog it am i checking details i recently had on my programme from all those years ago. I think i needed a wee kick up the backside to do this.

Now i'm learning even more about my ancestors

Sue Tolbert said...

Unfortunately Elyse you are one of the rare ones that tries to correct their mistakes. There are so, so many out there still just happily copy/pasting away and continuing to spread the errors of others along with their own.

You are certainly to be commended for your efforts!

John Patten said...

Definitely a common mistake, and one that I'm also coming to terms with! Accepting other people's research as gospel was a big mistake. However, a mistake others may sometimes be making is doing the same with my shared tree, despite the fact that in one version I've included 'possibles' and a disclaimer pointing to their only being maybes. Yet people don't care - they just want to build a bigger database, quicker.