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Same Name Issue with Ancestry Hints

Is something causing Ancestry’s hinting system to merge people of the same name?

I’m in the process of trying to disprove several Crawford men as the father of my James Crawford of Preble County, Ohio. Today, I’m trying to work on Rev. James Crawford (1752/3 to 1803) of Fayette County, Kentucky. I’ve found James Crawford [LZN5-SCD] in some of the Fayette County, KY records on Family Search. However, I have yet to find anything that would link James to his children. Thus, I decided to see if the Ancestry tree hints would help.

I’ve had Rev. James Crawford along with several other Crawford families from early Kentucky in my tree for quite some time. Thus, I expected to find legitimate hints. Instead, I found a lot of hints for other James Crawfords, whom I also have in my tree. At first, I just assumed that other researchers had confused some of these Crawford families in their trees. However, when I looked at the hints for Ancestor Member trees, I realized that I was ONLY seeing member trees for a DIFFERENT James Crawford.

All of the suggested trees were for James Crawford married to Rebecca Anderson. These trees also had Alexander Crawford and Mary McPheeters as the parents of James Crawford. When I looked at the hints I ignored, there were some hints that pertained to James and Rebecca of Indiana.

In addition, there were hints for James Crawford of Fleming County, Kentucky. This James Crawford married Sarah VanSandt.

Thus, it appears that multiple trees are merging these various James Crawford families.

Since the hints, suggested trees, and suggested member connects link to these other families, I’m beginning to think some computer algorithm is suggesting that these James Crawfords are the same individual versus separate men. I’m also curious as to why my search didn’t generate any hints for the trees that contain Rev. James Crawford. 

When I searched Public Member Trees for James Crawford with a death date of 1803 in Fayette County, Kentucky, I did find several trees — trees that should have been suggested in my original hint search.

What I also discovered, is that there is no agreement about Rev. James Crawford’s wife and/or parents in these various trees.

I don’t know whether I can influence these results, but I am going to try by .

  • Contacting the various tree owners for James and Rebecca Anderson and James and Sarah Vansandt to see what data they might have indicating that these James Crawfords are the same individual
  • Contacting the various tree owners for Rev. James Crawford to find out what data they might have for his wife and/or his parents.

On a positive note, when I did a search for James Crawford, died 1803 in Kentucky, the search found images for the correct James. Unfortunately, that same search did not find member trees for the correct James.

My question to the blogging community: Have you noticed people of the same name being combined by the Ancestry hint system? If so, would you have any idea what is causing the issue?