Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Identity Theft Happens Even to Our Ancestors

Anna Gerken Kuck
One of the internet programs that I utilize to research my ancestors, has a nifty little tool within it that tells you who has been looking around your family tree, what they were downloading, i.e. facts, events, stories or even pictures, and also tells you who has done what to their tree that also contains your ancestor. This last part is useful if someone else who has the same ancestor as mine posts new research on the ancestor such as a picture of them, to their tree and this program will tell me that so I can obtain the photo and add it to my tree. Most of the time I just skim the daily report it puts out and move on to other parts of the program.

However, a week ago I happened to notice that someone had uploaded the above picture of my 4th great grandmother Anna Gerken Kuck to their family tree. My first thought was 'excellent' because now I might potentially meet another Kuck relative. So I clicked the link which took me to their tree and my exuberance was soon dampened. The person who had uploaded my Anna Gerkan had attached her as being married to a Johann Gerken, not to my 4th great grandfather Hinrich Kuck. They had Anna's mother with a surname of Gerken and her father with a completely different surname. Much of that person's tree had numerous inconsistencies like that with absolutely no records to back any of it up. Obviously it was a person who was just attaching people to their tree with little thought put into it.

I can say that because I was such a person when I initially started my ancestry quest. However, after finding out I had several errors early on that research pointed out to me that totally changed entire large branches of my family tree, I rectified the situation by doing a severe pruning job. Gradually the branches have grown back out based upon research again and my family tree is far reaching once again.  Along the way, I have stumble across many family trees not so thoroughly based upon research and full of bad information. These trees get copied to other trees until bad information outweighs the good information and I have people writing me emails questions the accuracy of mine information until they see my research.

So I politely sent the person an email asking them to remove the picture from their family tree until such time they can show me proof that it belongs there. The next day the picture was gone and they have yet to respond to my email. I hope that nipped the bud before it had a chance to germinate into bad information added to a website full of similar bad information.

7 comments:

Vince said...

Nerd :-D

R. Sherman said...

Why bother going to the trouble of creating a genealogy, if one is not going to do the research properly? It's a complete waste of time. At least the thief in your case took the photo down.

Cheers.

Ed said...

I look at it more as probably someone new to genealogy who isn't yet trained to look at the facts. The big fact that they overlooked was why the surname of the daughter followed the mother and not the father. I'm just glad that this person was responsible and removed the photo before it had a chance to propagate to bad trees.

sage said...

If you don't like your ancestors, change them! I like that idea. I think you are right about this being someone new to genealogy and it is easy to get confused when going through data and having missing gaps.

DEK said...

You are fortunate. None of my relatives are worth stealing.

When I began I found all sorts of illustrious people with my name, but eventually figured out that they were an apparently unrelated line that first appeared in Connecticut. Nowadays, whenever I find anyone of the least distinction I quit looking as I assume he is one of them.

I have made my task somewhat easier as I am writing a biography rather than doing genealogy for its own sake. I can thus limit myself to those family members my subject would have known or heard about.

Of course if I ever finish my great grandfather's biography and make him famous, maybe someone will steal him.

Ed said...

DEK - I have yet to find a direct ancestor who was famous. I have found some very distant cousins to me named Oliver Wendell Holmes and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Murf said...

Dork. ;-)