Sometimes when I am working on family trees I come across hints from others trees. They appear so accurate that instead of building a tree from scratch I head on over to this other family tree and change the family tree into “list all family members” mode.
At the vantage point of a huge family tree with relative accuracy on Ancestry.com I can take clues from the non-identifying information of the adoptee and search the tree for dates. This evening I took a pretty in depth set of clues, based on dates of the birth mother’s family and scoured the tree for any women born on a very specific year. Each one I found I would check if any of the other dates aligned; if they did not I quickly moved onto the next page, and the next.
It got to a point about three hours in that I was on a rather large family tree. I looked up to see there were over twenty-four thousand people in this tree and I was around eleven thousand people into my search. I think at last count, I was one hundred and fifty pages in, out of three hundred something.
Needless to say I needed a break. So I book marked the page location and will resume it again over a lunch break or the next evening. It takes a bit of a leap to assume anyone with a tree that large is accurate. I sometimes get the feeling that anyone over four thousand members in their tree has just been clicking and accepting every single hint as if it were genuine.
That being said, there have been at least two incidents in the past year were a search based on someone else’s completed tree led to clues where I was able to piece together the conclusion of a search. One adoptee I am working with has so many close cousins and clues about his birth mother’s immediate family that it seems impossible not to stumble across someone who can align all the facts.
Understand that’s assuming the “facts” given were not completely bogus to begin with. Believe it or not, I do not think I have come across an adoptee search, which had everything incorrect on the non-identifying information. Yet little proof was required back between the early 1900s to the late 1960s to debunk what the birth mother told the social worker, hospital, or agency that arranged the adoption.
Still after three hours I walked away feeling a bit frustrated that I could find no one, yet to fit this model of dates. Some came close enough to have me build a version of a family or two on a new family tree I controlled, but they still fell short of all the right ingredients. Tomorrow is another day, perhaps I will see things in a slightly different perspective and lightning may strike.
Take good notes, and organize your exploits as you dig deeper. You never know what scattered bits of information may lead you down the right path.