Thursday, March 28, 2013

Problems with John Richman's (1788-1867) Line in FamilySearch Family Tree

Now that I have access to the FamilySearch Family Tree through the Family Tree API in RootsMagic 6, I've started checking out and adding information to my ancestral families again.

In looking at my end-of-line ancestors, I often find that someone else has added one (or more!) sets of parents to the line.  One example is my 3rd great-grandfather, John Richman (born about 1788, died 1867) who married Ann Marshman in Hilperton, Wiltshire in 1811.  There is no baptism record in the Hilperton parish register (as seen through the Bishops Transcripts) for a John Richman in this time frame, although several Richman families were having children in the 1780-1800 time frame.

What does FamilySearch Family Tree say?  Here is the family tree chart for John Richman (1788-1867) in FSFT:

FSFT has an entry for John Richman (1788-1867) that says his parents are John Richman (1765-????) and Jane Child (????-????), who married in 1788 in Biddestone, Wiltshire.  And that John Richman's (1765-????) parents are John Richman (1733-????) and Elizabeth (1737-????).  

There is an entry in the Hilperton records for the baptism of John Richman (1765-????) to John and Elizabeth Richman in 1764.  There is an entry in the IGI for the marriage of a John Richman and a Jane Child in 1788 in Biddestone.  But I've found no connection between the John Richman baptized in 1765 and the John Richman who married in 1788.

The Person page for John Richman (1765-????) is shown below (two screens):

I was curious as to how all of that information about John Richman (1765-????), his wife, and his parents were entered, so I clicked on the "Show All" link in the "Latest Changes" box.  Here is the complete Change Log for this John Richman (1765-????) (three screens):

It appears that the process used was:

*  User Unknown4470317 entered the gender, birth date/place and christening date/place on 10 January 2012.

*  User MichaelHanny1 entered a Death fact as "deceased" on 10 January 2012.

*  User Unknown 4470317 entered the person's name, John Richman, on 10 January 2012.

*  User FamilySearch added the mother, father, mother's relationship, and father's relationship on 19 april 2012.

*  User FamilySearch added the Wife, Jane Child, to John Richman (1765), along with a Father Fact (to John Richman (1788), Father's Relationship and Mother's Relationship (to John Richman (1788)), and the Couple Event (the marriage in 1788 in Biddestone), all on 5 May 2012.

There are no sources attached, and no discussions offered.

The question becomes - who did all of this and did they do it based on some evidence at hand (like picking the John Richman/Jane Child marriage in 1788 in a town 10 miles away from Hilperton) or was this just slapped together by FamilySearch when someone had nothing better to do?

I should mention at this point that there are Richman families in Hilperton, Wiltshire continuously from the 1620s when the Bishops Transcript start.  There were several Richman families having children in every decade since the 1620s.  Many of them are recorded in the Bishops Transcripts.  However, it is nearly impossible to link one John Richman baptized in, say, 1740, with a person with the same name who marries a spouse in, say, 1765.  There are just no records available to make that connection, except for probate records, which can be used to link several families together.  I have studied this parish for over 20 years and cannot connect many persons to parents, spouse(s) and children in a way supported by evidence.

At this point, the best thing I can do is ask some questions and hope that the people who created the links from John (1733) to John (1765) to John (1788) will see them and respond in a polite manner.

I wrote two Discussion items, as shown below:

The two Discussion items are:

1.  John Richman (1788-1867) Baptism

How do you know that the John Richman (1788-1867) is the son of John and Elizabeth (--?--) Richman? There is no baptism record in the Hilperton records for a John Richman in 1788 or in the 1785-1795 range in Hilperton.

2. Richman - Child Marriage

How do you know that the John Richman who married Jane Child in Biddestone is the John Richman born to John and Elizabeth (--?--) Richman in Hilperton? Does the Biddestone record say John Richman is from Hilperton?

That's just for starters. I actually doubt that anyone will respond to those Discussion items. I hope they do, but I'm not going to hold my breath about it.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


Anonymous said...

"I actually doubt that anyone will respond to those Discussion items. I hope they do, but I'm not going to hold my breath about it."

This is very much the problem with wikitree and familysearch family tree. Is there any hope?

Finn said...

Randy, It wasn't me. Let me point out a couple of things about the submitter(s). Unknownxxxxxx, is from a submission entered before 1970 or so. FamilySearch can be from FamilySearch or from someone using third party software, such as RootsMagic, Ancestral Quest, Legacy, or Family Insight, as they have to go through the FamilySearch API where the individual's idenity is lost. Finn

RootsMagic said...

When adding a fact from RootsMagic into New FamilySearch or FamilySearch Family Tree, the user is set as the contributor (not FamilySearch).

Anonymous said...

Oh I do wish you luck with this one. The things that people "report" sometimes should come complete with a hampster wheel for running circles! At least you have a bit of a trail to chase.
Kassie aka "Mom"

gophergenealogy said...

After this first started happening about a year ago I contacted Family Search and was told that these dates such as your multiple Jan. 10, 2012 for unknown submitter were generated when the computer transitioned the information from one format to the other. There are so many incorret connections in the newer family tree that I am going to wait until I can print a pedigree chart from Family Search and use that to work from. Many previous correct trees now have incorrect connections. Good luck!

SearchShack said...

Ron Tanner's presenatation at RootsTech (one of the taped ones) seemed to infer that Family Search knows the current data (compiled from years of partial and sometimes incorrect information added) is full of errors. Family Search seemed to hope that users would spend their time cleaning it up and then collaborating on the cleaned up information. Not sure if that idea was better than just starting fresh but it's what they decided to work do.

I started to try to clean up the Shackfords and begin adding WWI source information so I could understand this process - am finding a lot of duplicates, am finding the tool sometimes doesn't find an obvious duplicate (but I can merge the two using their IDs. In one case, a family with seven children had the parents added nine separate times. There are not a lot of Shackfords and it helps me realize I wouldn't want to be researching a Smith or a Brown in this tool.

So far I'm the only person coming back on my watch list as making changes. I am hoping others come along to work collaboratively on the same tree. Don't think it will happen quickly but may move forward after more education is given on use of this tool.

Anonymous said...

My lines seem to avecseveral folks cleaning it up. It's cool.

Magda said...

Randy, thanks for going into details about the change log on your example. I know that Family Search is hoping everyone will "clean up" the information on the trees with proper sources but feel like you do, will someone care and respond in the discussions? Wikitree is the only "one world tree " collaborative system that works as far as I am concerned.

Geolover said...

You can tell by looking at dates that there were at least two sets of data migrated to FS-FamilyTree from new.FamilySearch.

You may be able to decipher how a group of dates/parents was selected from a combination of data by looking at your John Richman's 'record' and lineage data in new.FamilySearch.

You might find at least some of the purported source data in trees under the "genealogies" tab on the main page. These provided most of the source material that was glombed into new.FamilySearch. Chances are that none of the tree entries will have source references at all, much less an evidentiary evaluation.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why anyone would use an online collaborative tree like this in the first place. I use and have public trees, and I have about 12 relatives who have access as "guests" but I don't let anyone but me actually add to or edit my trees. I just don't get the appeal of doing it any other way.

Lauri said...

Very helpful Randy. I checked a few of my direct ancestors and did some initial cleanup. Decided I need a more structured plan though. I don't intend to spend a lot of time, but I think in the end it might benefit me. If nothing else, no new versions of these people will be added.