Ancestry and Public Trees

Today, I was looking at Ancestry at the local library to see if there was any information or public trees on my George Thomas Mathews.  George was born around 1840 at Prospect NSW and died sometime after 1894. I have looked at every death of a George Mathews/Matthews who died between 1894 & 1920 in New South Wales (when his wife remarried) but to no avail. You can read more about George and his ‘disappearance’ here and what I have done to try to find out when he died (which I get that I’m never going to know), in the hopes that maybe one day I’ll find out his parents’ names. I have 5 birth certificates of George & Ellen’s children and in all of them George was the informant and his birth place is listed as Prospect, New South Wales. Therefore I have to believe that he was born in NSW.

Today I found a number of public trees with George Mathews and his wife Ellen Shoulders with children. Now for the life of me, I don’t understand is why the public trees I found with George Mathews have incorrect information.

  • One tree has their Daughter Susan Jane Mathews, who married Robert Tailby, with a death date of 1955.  Wrong!  I have her death certificate and she died in 1916.
  • There are a couple of trees that had George’s birth to be around 1836 or 1840 and with the parents of Henry Mathews & Susan or Susannah Morris. I thought cool; someone must have found some information but I’m not so sure. Some had no source citations but one of them did as follows:
    • Source Detail for George’s birth was: A shipping record, he is listed as age 5, on a ship called Victorian, which arrived in NSW in 1841 and he was travelling with Thomas Mathews (aged 24) and Sarah Mathews (aged 35). Yeah, maybe George was born outside of Australia (which is probably why I cannot find his birth in NSW but then again, I don’t know the name of his parents and yes, I have checked the corresponding births in NSW and cross them out for various reasons) but that does not solve where or how someone was able to work out that this shipping record relates to my ‘George Thomas Matthews’.
    • When you click on the father’s name Henry Mathews, the source details for Henry & his wife Susan, are connected to a 1861 UK census and living at: Guilden Morden, Cambridgeshire, England. Henry, age 61, Susan Age 61, George, age 21, and Eliza age 18. Me is now confused. I also note that this family also appear in the 1841 & 1851 UK Census.

I can’t help but think someone has picked up some information and just attached it without bothering to verify the information and then everyone else has just followed suit. So therefore, I conclude that the parents of Henry & Susan that are attached to George Thomas Mathews in the trees I found, and the source information of the 1861 UK census is incorrect and the family above are not related to my George Mathews.

Why don’t people verify the information they find on the Internet?  Why is it so hard to do the actual work to trace your family history? Tracing your history means, getting information and verifying information, such as obtaining Birth, Death & Marriage certificates. Why is this so hard for people to do? I have done a lot of the leg work over the last 20 years and am happy to provide and exchange information with people. In some cases, things don’t seem quite right and you just have to take it that what you find is more than likely correct but I still put a disclaimer on what I have found if I am still not 100% sure.

I guess, I’m still at square one.  Right now, I believe this one will always stay a mystery, especially considering that I have no proof of the names of George’s parents.

1 Comment

  1. It’s a real problem with public member trees – there are lots of inaccuracies and people seem to put them up and not update them.

    On the other hand I have made some valuable connections through Ancestry trees.

    As you say the answer is to Check your Sources.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: