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Pay Attention

Do you have twins somewhere in your tree with similar names? If so, have you encountered issues with the hinting systems suggesting hints for the opposite twin?

As I was researching my WELLS line in Michigan, I ran into this situation recently. I was updating my research of Benjamin Wells children, including twins Clinton and Clayton by his second wife. I started working with Clinton and was about to accept a hint when I realized the hint was for Clayton. When I browsed down the page of suggested hints, all of Clinton’s hints were for Clayton.

Ancestry hints for Clinton Wells — but hints are actually for Clayton Wells

Since it has been a few years since I’ve worked on this branch of the family, my first thought was that I had a mistake. However, after rechecking the census records for the father’s household, I was able to verify that there are indeed two sons named Clinton and Clayton. Below is a screen shot from the 1870 Eaton County Michigan census for the household.

1870 U.S. Census, Eaton County Michigan, popoulation schedule, Kalamo, Eaton County, Michigan, page 34, family 283, Wells, Benjamin; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 16 December 2020); NARA microfilm publication T132.

Below is a screen shot from the 1880 Eaton County Michigan census for the household.

1880 U.S. Census, Eaton County Michigan, population schedule, Kalamo Township, Eaton County, Michigan, enumeration district (ED) ED 74, page 26, family 294, Wells Benjamin F; digial images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 16 December 2020); NARA microfilm publicaiton T9.

Since I already had the above census records attached to Benjamin, I was able to also attach them to Clinton.

While I’ve seen inaccurate hints in the past, they have usually been for someone of the same name who lived in a different location. Because these hints are confusing two brothers, I’m taking additional steps to hopefully help keep these brothers straight.

  • Rejected the Clayton hints that appeared for Clinton
  • Used my data in RootsMagic to locate additional census records on Ancestry and use the Ancestry system to attach them to Clinton. (My RootsMagic sourcing gets uploaded as ‘Other Sources’. Thus, they don’t impact the hinting system.)
  • Place a comment on both Clinton and Clayton to hopefully warn others of potential mix-ups.