JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: family trees from existing databases #general

Sally Bruckheimer <sallybruc@...>

The difficulty with making family trees >from JRI-PL records is that there is no
sure way of knowing whether the people are actually related in the way that you
think. Is the birth record 20 years later the child of the people in the marriage
record, or was there cousin of the same name born somewhat later with no marriage
record in that town who actually had the baby? Since our ancestors moved around a
lot more than we think, it is certainly possible that the person we think is the
parent really isn't. Maybe, maybe not.

It is hard enough to track one family's records - and I have usually had odd
surnames and some rather uncommon given names to work with. I have found 6 birth
records in one very small town to three different wives (apparently) of one man -
and luckily the last marriage was recorded. The probable descendents of this man
do not know enough to connect to him, so I can't tell if the Isaac that was born is
the grandfather of the oldest known ancestor of the cousins. Since names are
reused in families, I can say 'most likely' but not necessarily. I recently found
another brother of this man, which leads to another source of possible ancestors.

There are sites, like, which allow you to merge your tree with a cousin's
tree. But that is assuming that you know your trees meet at some person. Doing
this without any knowledge of the families would be very dangerous - and some
people would assume that the tree that you make is truth, when it isn't.

Sally Bruckheimer
Princeton, NJ

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