02 July 2019

Be Independent!

Webster's Definition for Independent:

"independent adjectivein·​de·​pen·​dent | \ ˌin-də-ˈpen-dənt \
Definition of independent
(Entry 1 of 2)
1: not dependent: such as
a(1): not subject to control by others : SELF-GOVERNING(2): not affiliated with a larger controlling unitan independent bookstore
b(1): not requiring or relying on something else : not contingentan independent conclusion
(2): not looking to others for one's opinions or for guidance in conduct
(3): not bound by or committed to a political party
c(1): not requiring or relying on others (as for care or livelihood)independent of her parents
(2): being enough to free one from the necessity of working for a livinga person of independent means
d: showing a desire for freedoman independent manner
e(1): not determined by or capable of being deduced or derived from or expressed in terms of members (such as axioms or equations) of the set under considerationespecially : having linear independencean independent set of vectors
(2): having the property that the joint probability (as of events or samples) or the joint probability density function (as of random variables) equals the product of the probabilities or probability density functions of separate occurrence"

I can't help but take this opportunity for a little education and venting.  I certainly wouldn't consider myself an expert at genealogy because it seems I'm always learning something new from those who have been doing this so much longer than I have. However, I've been doing this enough years (almost 15) to know the basics of genealogical research. There is a trend that I am seeing that is quite scary and it destroying our research.

Today, Ancestry.com, 23andMe, and others have hyped everyone up on the DNA tests. Yes, as a genealogist they are an invaluable tool, and anyone I am doing work for I encourage a DNA test if at all possible because it opens up so many avenues for a researcher. However, those who don't want to take the time, don't have the patients or even an idea where to start they get their test results back and start making connections. The downside is they start connecting to everyone and everything that looks like it belongs in their lines without doing their due diligence. The only way to accurately create a tree with DNA is to use records and source that trace the stories of your ancestors along the trail that created your DNA. DNA alone will NOT create a tree! They become followers (the opposite of independent) of those that share their DNA and have created a tree, whether it's accurate or not.

Stop being followers. If you want to do this, then I must visit the words of my grandfather Von Joseph Roe, though he died when I was young, my mother reminded me of his famous phrase many times in my childhood, "If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing right the first time." And that can't be truer in genealogy. Think about it. What happens when mistakes are made in trees that are published online? In this digital age, those mistakes are multiplied ten-fold before you even realize you've made the mistake. Oh, and yes, I'm speaking from experience. One where I thought I had done my due diligence and all records were pointing to this one person being the father of my subject, but as more records became available I discovered where timelines didn't match up and that person could not have been the father of my subject. But by the time I had discovered that multiple people had copied my tree, and I still, frustratingly find this same mistake in my Woolsey line, and I was the culprit that started it, but the followers didn't due to their own research. If each of them had, one of them might have been able to send me an email and ask. "Hey, where did this come from because this is what I see?" But no, the copy and paste is so much easier than doing your own work. STOP BEING A FOLLOWERS! DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH!

Be Independent! I do not use other trees. As a matter of fact, I have that feature turned off on my leaves. I don't want to see other trees until I have exhausted all other sources. I do my due diligence and allow the documents to lead me to as correct of a conclusion as possible. Keep in mind, errors still happen even to the most diligent researchers, but at least we are able to trace back through our work and usually find where we went up the wrong tree. I only review other trees when I am completely stumped to see what other's may have seen that I missed. Occasionally, something they have found helps me break down my brick wall, but more often than not I just get frustrated at the messes I see and the lack of due diligence.

If you want to discover the true story of you, do a DNA test and create an Independent tree, free of all other influences. If it cannot be backed up with sources, or first-hand accounts, then leave it! Okay, I'm done venting.