I want to talk about something that a lot of people have probably experienced.In no way am I saying people should not work together. I just want to point out some issues I have experienced in the past.
One of the problems I have had with collaboration is the reaction you get for questioning someone’s research. The following situation happened to me recently. I asked how they found the parents for so-and-so. The answer was “from my father’s research.” I have been unable to document the parents for this person so I asked how their father came about the answer because I have yet to find anything. The person got defensive and accused me of saying their father made things up. I never once said that the information was wrong I just asked how they figured it out.
For me, if someone does not ask how I came to a conclusion, I worry. Do I want to collaborate with someone who does not even bother asking for sources? We should be excited to find someone else interested in an ancestor. I would rather spend the time researching my family tree instead of someone else’s that I mistakenly thought was mine. So yes, I do ask questions.
What do you do when someone will not listen?
One of my ancestor’s had a sister Catherine "Kate" Bennem. Kate married a man named William Oldfield Allen. Trees on ancestry have William’s wife as Catherine Meyer. I have records coming out my ears saying his wife was Bennem. Church records of their marriage and baptisms for their children, Kate’s obit and her death record. I also have the marriage record and license for one of their daughters. Every record says her maiden name is Bennem. From the records I know William was only ever married to her so it wasn’t a mistake of mixing up wives. I contact the people nicely pointing out the fact and ask how they came up with the Meyers last name. I never received a reply. You can tell from the trees it was a matter of copying one tree to another.
So what do I do? All I can do is what I already have. Contact them and make sure my tree is properly sourced and up to date. Hopefully people go for quality over quantity.
The curse of being a Bennem descendant
Another concern is people blindly attaching documents to people. This has also occurred with my Bennem line. The main issue is that two brothers (John and Daniel) both had sons named John. Not surprising given their father’s name was John. One, my line, I have worked on for years and the other I have just started to look into. I have recently decided to redo my tree due to wanting to follow proper citations. The Bennem family is one that I did have citations for except for a few records. Someone not long ago attached all my research to the son of Daniel while I had proven the family’s link to the son of John. I have it publicly in my tree so why would someone attach them to what is obviously the wrong person? I will never understand that.
I commented on the person’s page on John Bennem’s profile stating that he was the son of John not Daniel. If someone goes to the page seeing all my documentation attached I’m afraid they will take it as fact. Again, all I can do is keep my tree available and hope people question everything they see.
Through all of this I have considered making my tree private and having people contact me to see my research. It’s something I don’t want to do because it could lead people to think the public trees are the only option. What do others do to deal with these situations?