We all make mistakes, it’s only natural so making them during genealogy research is bound to happen, but some of the ones I’ve made have been quiet funny.
My best mistake to date involved my great great grandma. I found her on the 1881 census alongside some of her children. My shock came when I looked at where she stated she was born. It read Holbeck Whouse. I immediately though, oh my goodness, she was born in Holbeck workhouse. This led me to frantically searching the internet trying to find anything out I could about this workhouse, where was it, can I find the records, how did she end up there, how did she get out. I spent days looking for clues and answers. I traced her forwards and backwards for evidence and then the penny dropped when I was looking at the map. I found a Holbeck Woodhouse! So not only had I been trying to find something that didn’t exist I’d spent days doing it. I chose to look at the funny side and laughed and thought I’m glad she didn’t have to go through this as she had a bad enough time as it was. He husband who was the organist at Worksop Priory died 8 years after they were married and left her with 4 young children.
Another probably common mistake I made was chasing the wrong person. I’m sure we’ve all done it. I was tracing my great great grandfather George Dow. Now this is not a particularly common name so I grabbed on to the George that seemed the be the one. I traced him all over the east coast of Scotland. I traced his parents and siblings. Then one day, I don’t know why, I searched for him again and found a new candidate. All of a sudden I realised I had been tracing the wrong family. This wasn’t my George. I eventually found him on the census in Sunderland and found he said he was from Govan. So only the wrong side of Scotland from where I thought he was from. If I’d only though about it before I started tracing the first George, I’d have realised how wrong I was. I knew I was descended from the Buchanan Clan. They were mostly based in the east of Scotland. Now I know that doesn’t necessarily mean anything but it should have been a clue. The irony being that if I’d purchased my Great Grandma’s birth certificate first I would have realised George had a distinctive middle name and would have been able to find him much easier. When I did trace the right George I found his family did come from the area the Buchanan’s came from.
Another mistake I’ve made is getting too attached to ancestors. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t, but you’ve got to remember that these people live possibly hundreds of years ago. The first person I became attached to was the daughter of my 5 times great grandfather. When I found out she died aged 7 I got so upset. Susanna died in 1789. Why was I getting so upset? I suppose it was tragic that death in childhood was common, but there was nothing I could do about it. It was different times and all I could do was be thankful it rarely happens now. I told myself to not get so attached again. It didn’t happen, but I do try not to.
They always say making mistakes is human, and I guess it’s true, and in the grand scheme of things making mistakes while tracing your family history doesn’t really matter (unless it costs you money). The thing is to find you mistakes funny and try not to make them in the future, but if you do just laugh again and make it into an amusing story.