Yes, there are definite things you should avoid doing or assuming when you begin researching your Family History. Here are just four of them.

Mormon Family History1. Just because it’s been published, doesn’t mean it’s true.

Even professional genealogists can make mistakes, and most of those who publish family genealogies are not professionals. Transcriptions may have been misread or assumptions about certain family relationships may have been made. Take everything you read with a grain of salt.

2. Just because it’s on the internet, doesn’t mean it’s true.

These days, anyone can put up information on the internet. Not all of the genealogical information on the internet is incorrect, but a lot of it is. This is largely because people accept what they see as fact and perpetuate information which may be false, which is in turn perpetuated by others who never seek to verify the truth. Again, take everything you see on the internet with a grain of salt.

3. It’s Family Lore, but is it true?

Every family seems to have one or two stories of grandeur. A family story passed down to me declares we are descendants of Pocahontas and distantly related to Edith Bolling Wilson (second wife of President Woodrow Wilson) who wrote one of my ancestors a letter asking about a certain table. The underside of this table has the name Edward Bolling and the date 1714 inscribed into it. It is said the table was given to Edith Wilson by one of my ancestors. As for now I have not been able to prove any of that story true.

Certainly I think it would be neat if I descended from Pocahontas, but I’m not going to assume it’s true and spread any falsity in that arena. Nor would I attempt to trace Pocahontas’ line of descendancy in hope of finding a connection. It’s much better to work backward than forward. My great great grandmother was Minnie Bowling, so it is possible that I may trace her line back to the “red” Bollings, but for now, when and if I tell that story, I will be very careful to make clear the proven and unproven aspects of it.

4. Smith is spelled S-M-I-T-H and that’s that!

That The lack of education that was so widespread even until the early 20th century made for some very interesting spelling on the part of census takers, probate document recorders and others. Most of the time, your ancestors may not have even known how to spell their own name. In some cases an individual may have changed the spelling of his name on purpose. Perhaps upon arriving in America he found his surname of Ljungren too difficult for Americans to spell correctly and was content to spell it Youngren so he wouldn’t need to correct people all the time. Other names may have been translated into English. The German surname Schwarz translated to Black and thus some changed their surname after arriving in America. Always try alternate name variations when searching for your ancestors. This includes First and middle names as well.

“On my Swedish line, my grandfather’s name was Nels Monson; his father’s name was not Monson at all but Mons Okeson; and his father’s name was Oke Pederson, and his father’s name was Peter Monson—right back to Monson again; and his father’s name was Mons Lustig, which was a Swedish army name to differentiate the Petersons, the Johnsons, and the Monsons from one another as they entered military service.” – Thomas S. Monson, The Key of Faith, Ensign, Feb 1994, 2

 

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