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Confused Williams

Have you ever been tempted to pull someone else’s family history research into your tree? I know I have. Back in the days of PAF, another RICKETTS researcher shared a gedcom with me. Knowing he was a serious worker and that the file was full of information that could help me on my RICKETTS line, I imported his gedcom file into my file. So, when someone would ask me about a RICKETTS, I would have to confess that I had copied the info into my file and really didn’t know much about that particular individual.

Over time, I was able to figure out how to selectively weed that RICKETTS data so that I only had families I had researched. From this first hand experience, I know how erroneous information can creep into a tree. I do use other trees – for hints and to check my research.

I am currently researching my THOMPSON line. My ancestor, William Taylor Thompson, was born and married in Indiana. After his marriage, he moved to Wapello County, Iowa where he died. Hoping to see what other researchers had on William Taylor Thompson and to see if I have any THOMPSON DNA matches, I did a search of the public member trees on Ancestry. That’s when I discovered that the various trees are not in agreement on William’s death date.

ThompsonTrees

My records indicate that William died in 1898. Thus, I was curious as to whether I had the wrong date. Thus, I looked at a tree to see where the 1892 death date might have come from.

WTThompson-TreeSource

I didn’t check every tree with an 1892 death date, but I’m guessing that most have other Ancestry Family Trees as the source. My next step was to try and figure out a source for the 1892 date. I did a search of Find a Grave for a William Thompson who died in 1892 in Iowa. That search resulted in a William Thompson who is buried in Ottumwa Cemetery, Wapello County, Iowa.

WilliamThompsonIreland

My research indicates that my ancestor, William Taylor Thompson, lived and likely died in Wapello County, Iowa. However, the census records that show a Sarah Thompson (my great-great grandmother) as a daughter of William Thompson indicate that William was born in Kentucky — and not Ireland.

Based on that same census research, I am aware of TWO men named William Thompson of approximately the same age living in Wapello County, Iowa. So I did another search of Find a Grave for a William Thompson who died in 1898 in Iowa. (NOTE: 1898 is the year of death I have for William Taylor Thompson.) That search generated another William Thompson buried in Ottumwa Cemetery, Wapello County, Iowa.

WilliamThompsonIowa

Based on these two Find a Grave records, it is easy to see how they could get mixed up. This leads to a bigger question, “Do I have the incorrect year of death?” Since I have documented a lot of events in the life of William Taylor Thompson, I think I have the correct date. However, I’m still on the lookout for additional records to support my conclusion that Sarah Thompson Briles is the daughter of William Taylor Thompson who died in 1898 in Wapello County, Iowa. This is why I don’t believe I’ll ever be ‘finished’ with my genealogy.