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Big Tree Same Name Issues

Do you have ‘same name’ issues in your genealogy research? I know I have them in mine:

  • Hiram Currey
  • Noah Briles
  • James Crawford
  • William Thompson

Thus, I’m a little sensitive when computer algorithms merge them together. 
I first encountered this with Ancestry’s One World Tree when my James Crawford research was merged into one profile. 

Recently, Randy Seaver has been writing about Ancestry issues. His recent post, A Reader’s Take on Ancestry Problems, Part IV: The Ancestry Big Tree discusses what he has learned about Ancestry’s Big Tree. Randy also discussed the Ancestry Big Tree on today’s session of Monday’s with Myrt. 
I evidently browsed thru Randy’s post since I didn’t pick up on the Google search aspect. However, when Randy demonstrated a Google search on Monday’s with Myrt, I started wondering how the Big Tree would handle my same name issues.

Thus, I started searching.

My first search was for my ancestor, James Crawford. James was born about 1772 in Virginia and died in 1854 in Preble County, Ohio. I was pleased when I found his profile – without any of the other James Crawfords mixed in.

I then tried to find James’ neighbor, James Crawford. This James Crawford was born about 1770 in Virginia and died in 1833 in Warren County, Indiana. This James (1770-1833) was married to Martha Knight. My search for ‘James Crawford 1770-1833 ancestry’ did not pull up the Ancestry page on the first 3 pages of results. A search for ‘Martha Knight 1773-1842 ancestry’ did pull up the family. Again, I was pleased that the family wasn’t merged with another James Crawford. However, I am puzzled as to why the James Crawford search was not successful. 

Having success, I then tried to locate James Crawford (1758-1836). This James Crawford died in Jefferson County, Indiana. He married Rebecca Anderson Maxwell. DAR applications have confused records for this James Crawford with James Crawford (1757-1836) of Fleming County, Kentucky.

The Fleming County James was married to Sarah Vansant. Thus, I expected a search for James Crawford 1758-1836 to possibly pull up both James Crawfords. However, I was surprised when the Indiana James Crawford was merged with Rev. James Crawford of Lexington, KY.

When I did a search for ‘James Crawford 1757-1836 Ancestry’, I did not find a link to Ancestry’s Big Tree of the first few pages of results. I then tried searching for his wife, Sarah Vansant. I tried various spellings of her surname: Vansant, Vansandt, Van Sant, Vanzandt. None of my searches for her resulted in a link to the Ancestry Big Tree. 

From my test of Google searches for members of the Ancestry Big Tree, I am concluding

  • There are still issues with individuals of the same name being merged together.
  • That searching for a spouse or child might be required to locate someone in the Ancestry Big Tree.
  • Not everyone is included in the Ancestry Big Tree.
  • My Ancestor has not been merged with his neighbor and is included in the Ancestry Big Tree!

I then looked at my Heartland Genealogy tree in Ancestry for each of these families. I discovered that I have Ancestry sources for my ancestor, but only have ‘other sources’ for the other James Crawford families.

Thank you Randy Seaver for inquiring about a ‘Big Tree’ and for sharing what you’ve learned!