Is It Time To Prune Your Tree?

I enjoy searching and finding and adding records to my tree. I take great joy at picking through lists and tables and finding something that relates to my family. That being said, sometimes I am wrong. I admit it. There are many times I’ve spent hours doing research and adding names only to realize at some point late into the night that I’ve been bamboozled. I have followed a rabbit trail of ancestors and ended up in a deep lagoon so to speak. So I backtrack, one by one I delete my entries until I am back where I started.

It’s easy to spot my error when I’ve just started working on a new line, but what about something I entered two years ago? Sometimes I have to go back over information that I’ve worked on in the past and make sure it is still valid. We are blessed to live in a time where we can instantly access many records and new ones are posted every day, sometimes every minute. By reviewing past entries many times I can see new avenues for research and also see where I might have gone off-track.

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Hattie, Hiram Allen, Ruby, and Merle (my great-grandmother)

That is what happened with my 2nd great-grandmother Hattie Jane Thomas. I knew when she died (1910) and where (Kansas), I knew from census records she was born in Ohio about 1873. However, I had no idea who her parents were or how she got from Ohio to Kansas. After much research I found a Hattie Jane Thomas the right age living in Kansas with her grandparents. Everything fit. Except it was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The following year my mother was searching online records from Iowa and found an adoption record for Mary Alice Thomas who was adopted in 1882 by Aaron and Josephine Stuver. This information led to Iowa census records which listed a father and 3 sisters including Hattie Jane Thomas. New doors were suddenly opened and the old ones shut tight.

From that little bit of information I was able to track down obituaries which listed Hattie Jane’s parents’ names. Suddenly I was able to trace Hattie Jane’s line back to Massachusetts and learned that Joseph Bailey and his wife Priscilla Putnam Bailey, my 9th great-grandparents were one of the leading couples involved in the Salem Witch Trials.

These new family lines only came available to me because I was willing to let go of my preconceptions. As researchers we must be open to new ideas and we must be willing to graciously accept when we have incorrect information. Are you watching out for the sick branches so they don’t infect your tree? As your tree branches out into more limbs and branches do you continue to prune?