18 January 2012

Really? I Have To Prove Everything?

I am constantly amazed at how gullible people can be.  From what I am seeing on Ancestry's Family Tree's many people believe everything they read.  And then put it on line as fact without ever taking the time to stop and research and confirm said things.

Obituaries are one of the best examples of this that I have found yet.  For some reason people believe so much of what is in obituaries and no further research is ever done to follow up.

In my GGgrandmother's obituary is states the following, "...He leaves two sons, Paul L. Sharters and five sons...." it then proceeds to state she left behind five brothers & a sister, which in fact was correct. 

The problem with this obituary is that -
A. He is really a she...  no biggie I know.  But it matters to ME.
B.  There were not two sons or five sons there were SIX...
C. None of her sons were named Paul L. Sharters. 
D. No mention of the two daughters, both of whom were living at the time of her death.

A bit of research would have shown the person on Ancestry Trees those facts and then the facts presented on his/her tree would be correct instead of so poorly listing false information. 

The moral of this story?  Don't take everything you find in an obituary to be true.  Remember that in some cases it may not even be a family member writing the obituary.  Many of the Brethren obituaries I have found were written by an elder in the church or by a family friend.  In some cases information given may simply be a guess.  When my grandmother died her place of birth was incorrectly given in her obituary.  She tried to get the person who had the correct information but that person was unavailable.  So she gave it her best guess.

Memories fade, papers get lost..  you really do need to make the effort to prove the things you find.  Even from obituaries!


Wendy said...

Amen and Amen! Should I really believe someone aged only 5 years or 15 years between censuses? Should I believe my 5G grandmother gave birth when she was only 2? Some of the information available online is really sad.

Cheryl Cayemberg said...

People need to remember that obituaries were written during a time of grief, and the person writing them may not have been the most knowledgeable. Obituaries are essential tools for finding leads and helping to confirm relationships, but there is much more research that needs to be conducted before saying that anything is certain. Speaking to the choir though.