“Garbage in, garbage out”

Yes, that’s a computer phrase. It’s 2:50 AM as I start this message; couldn’t sleep. Another thunder-storm last evening and we lost power (again). Hey, no TV, no Internet, “bed time.”

“Garbage in” refers to the time I imported information from an Ancestry.com “Member Tree” into my personal member tree. Frankly, I’ve paid for the Ancestry subscription for many years but seldom visited the information. As with any computer program, there’s a “learning curve.” Until recently, I never “got the hang” of Ancestry. (To my dismay, the program totally changed a couple of years ago.) Perhaps two weeks ago, simultaneous with the scanning project, I visited Ancestry.com for information. You’ve heard my lament; I couldn’t walk away!! I wrote about “chasing rabbits.”

“Garbage out” was my goal. It has taken an enormous amount of time to individually work the families and undo the errors. Now, a little background information: My ancestry is wrapped up with the Old German Baptist Brethren–a Christian group you might mistake for the Amish. The families lived on neighboring farms, worshiped in the same Church, and intermarried. They moved from Pennsylvania to Virginia, to Ohio, to Indiana, to Kansas, ever westward seeking farmland. The families are knit together like an afghan (is that a good illustration?). My recent labor only involved three surnames: Frantz, Brubaker and Blocher. In essence, it only involved three families. Here’s the problem: Two and three marriages each. I hasten to say that death robbed the families of a mother or father (divorce was unheard of in those days). Simply put: Father had ten children, Mother just died in childbirth. Within the community, a widow is struggling with her seven children. The woman (in this case) married her sister’s husband. The couple marries–it’s what we now call a “blended family.” Step-brother and step-sister marry.

When I imported that family circle from another Ancestry “Member Tree,” I had “a can of worms” (figuratively speaking). Because it looked like “Father” had seventeen children. The names of the wives were confused. During long hours working with names, and dates, I (hopefully) established the true family structure.

Now, I am very wary of those Ancestry “Member Trees”!! Now, I only work with original sources: Census, marriage, death. Now, I recognize that the Census records play a big role in the family structure “problem.” All the children listed and a researcher (perhaps new to Ancestry) just adds that data to their Member Tree.

Quite frankly, I’m indebted to my publication Frantz Families–Kith & Kin for many of the answers to my recent frustration in Ancestry. Published in 1996, well researched, well documented–and much easier to identify individuals on the “black and white pages.” Remember, I mentioned they lived in community, worshiped in the same church, intermarried? Frantz Families–Kith & Kin is three volumes, 3,180 pages. By the grace of God, and my familiarity with the surnames, I was able to get the “garbage out.” 

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Twelve-fifty PM note: Now I’ll “publish” this message. I went back to bed about three-thirty this morning and did not get up until nine. I’ve frittered away the morning picking up downed tree limbs, sprinkling poison to kill fire ants, preparing more nectar for the Hummingbirds, etc., etc. The Hummingbirds disappeared for several weeks so I took down the feeder. I had no desire to “serve” sour nectar when they return. Well, while “frittering,” I saw a Hummingbird in my “yarden.” ~~ I’m excited to share a picture of the Plumerias ready to bloom.

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I have a habit of grabbing a tiger by the tail and then recognize I can’t let go!! I couldn’t “let go” of the mess on Ancestry; I can’t “let go” of my garden.

Later today, I’ll return to the scanning project. I’ll continue adding resource material to the digitized library.

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Late afternoon sunshine on one of my bottle bushes.

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