The last few days have been interesting. If you read my posts on January 5-6 and 7 this week, I decided to contact all the people who had online family trees that contained John Whitmer who died in 1828 in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.
First, in reviewing the trees, I originally counted 358 separate family trees on one site. Next, I sent individual messages to each person hosting the tree. Along the way, I recognized some obvious duplications of hosts – 66 to be exact and, even with that, I am sure there were several people who received at least two messages from free. That reduced the number of individuals hosting trees to 292.
Interestingly, I came across three other trees whose hosts have chosen to not allow anyone to contact them. That left 289 tree hosts to whom I have written. Happily, most of the hosts had logged in to Ancestry within the last month and many within the last few days. I would estimate that 10-15% last logged in over a year ago. Those people may no longer have an active subscription.
I have received nineteen replies. One person said John was a collateral line that hadn’t been researched and they hadn’t had time to prune the tree. Another was actually descended from Michael and Barbara Whitmer and had erroneously added my John to their family. A couple others replied that they will look at the information and thanked me. Thirteen are direct descendants and mostly said that this line had either been a brick wall or they hadn’t yet researched it and seemed genuinely pleased to have all this new information about John’s origins.
One person wrote and said thank you, but they have done their own research and will keep what they have (which is wrong). I asked if they would share any documentation they had, but none has yet been offered. . . .
One wanted me to re-explain a three day post in a separate email and a second person simply wrote “I need more info.” They both got replies with this blog address.
I have already learned a bit myself about the way that some other people choose to research. Everyone has his/her own methods, which is fine, but I guess I don’t see the point in adding a lot of unverified information to my tree, not having checked any of the facts for myself, and then having to unlink/delete a lot of wrong data. That seems like a lot of extra work, not to mention the fact that once something is on the internet, it is impossible to completely erase it.
I will post a final update in early February. I am most curious to see what changes are evident in the family trees four weeks later.
2 thoughts on “My John Whitmer Family Tree Experiment – Update”
I am both impressed and disappointed that out of almost 300 you heard from 19. I have found that people generally do not reply at all even when I try and be very diplomatic and tactful. I also have learned that an unsourced tree is not a tree to rely upon. Hope you hear from more!
My guess is that most of the people with on line trees are those who spend minimal time on their hobby. Even from those who replied, several said John was part of a branch that they hadn’t yet researched, yet they had all the wrong information about him attached. I think most who were going to reply already have. Some may have read the message and won’t reply, but will correct their trees. I’ll have the final report in very early February. Thank you for the comments!