A Genea-Musings readers emailed me on Monday saying:
"I ask you to Google the name of one of your ancestors, perhaps an uncommon name. One of the responses will be on ancestry.com . Click on that, go in, and take a look. It is the most disgusting mess of misinformation imaginable.
The first name I entered was "della carringer" (a married name), as shown above. The resulting page was:
The header says "Della A. Carringer (1862 - .... )" and provides a list of historical records on Ancestry.com, including her death record in California. There are four pictures at the top of the listing, but none of them are for my Della Carringer. On the right, below the search box, is a listing that shows an unknown father, a mother (Abbie A. Smith, a married name), and no spouse or children.
I clicked on the 1920 U.S. Census link and saw:
The 1920 U.S. Census record is shown, with Della A. Carringer (Della A. Smith) at the top of the record.
I searched for Della's husband, Henry Austin Carringer (1853-1946), and it found no records. I searched for just "Henry Carringer" and got records for only "Henry Herman Carringer." Strange...there are several Henry Carringers in the records and all of my people are well documented in at least two Ancestry Member Trees.
I clicked on Della's mother's name (Abbie A. Smith), a married name) and saw:
It got her birth date right, but did not have her maiden name or death date. The birth date could have come from a census record. The pictures shown are not hers.
What about my parents? I put in my father's name "frederick seaver" and saw:
It found three pictures that I uploaded to an Ancestry Member Tree, plus a school yearbook record I've never found (it is my father's!). It had his middle initial and his birth date, but not his 1983 death date, although it listed his death record in the links. It listed his parents names, but not his wife and children. It found the 1920 and 1930 US Census, plus that of his sister, Ruth. There were several other Frederick Seaver persons in the records - why did it pick this one?
I put my mother's name in "betty carringer" and saw:
There were two names on this page - the "Living Carringer" is my mother. It correctly names her parents. I clicked on the link for "Living Carringer" and saw: