I have been researching my family history for over 24 years with about 22 years of that using online genealogy sites. When I first began I had a handwritten tree that my paternal Aunt gave me that had 3 generations on it. It was not a complete list of names but it was a start. In the beginning, I took my time, finding information about each of my Dad’s 10 brothers and sisters and then their families and filling in the blanks. Once that was done I started my journey backward.
Before I knew it I became obsessed with all the trees that had my family included in theirs. Being naive I took everything they had in the tree at face value. No questions, no research, I just put it in my tree. Over several months I had traveled back in time to the 900s AD. I think I was related to every royal, conqueror, and historical figure in history. I bragged about my “connections” to all my friends and family, including my husband’s family. I made so many binders and printed out thousands of pages of fact sheets. The only thing I did not have was any documentation for any of these ancestors.
I began taking the courses to become a Certified Genealogist and I saw the grave error of my previous ways. I was embarrassed by all the bragging I had done. I realized how foolish I must have looked talking about my royal blood. So, I confessed to my family and friends and I scraped my tree and started again. This time I only moved forward or backward if I had the proper documentation. Yes, it has taken me 15 years to go back to the early 1600s but I am positive that each person in my trees belongs there. I had learned a valuable lesson. Don’t get me wrong, I do have quite a few “maybe” ancestors in my trees but they are labeled as “Needs further research and documentation” and I do not write about them.
Well, today a freaky thing happened. I decided to research a branch I had completely forgotten about. I gathered all my research for my 10th Great Grandfather Anthony Savage and I began to search for any documents. Everywhere I looked all I saw was the “Royal” lines of Anthony. The majority of them were undocumented, just like what happened before but to my surprise, I found a few that had documentation! They only went back 2 generations but there it was. Is it freaky that I am actually scared to look into the documentation? I don’t want to get caught up in spreading false information again. Yes, I am a professional Genealogist, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t make a mistake. After all, we are all human and that makes us capable of doing just that.
My plan now is to take it slow, verify, verify, verify everything, and see where it leads.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.