Sanity Check

I use RootsMagic as my genealogy program to store my family data that I have collected over the last 35 years. RootsMagic and all of the better genealogy programs have a built in method to check your family data for common errors. It has been a while since I checked my family data. So I needed to see what problems had arisen. I found that I had people that died at age 120+. Those were because I entered the wrong century either in the date of birth or death. I had people getting married under age 14. Those were usually errors in which I had taken a guess of a date and had been off in my guess. I had a couple of fathers dying before their child was born. They were, in fact, true. Most of my family database errors were just dumb errors and easy to fix.

There was one problem that I had a hard time making any sense of and correcting. My fifth great grandfather, Benjamin Rathbone (born 1710) married Mary Cahoon in 1742 and they had 6 children born between 1743 and 1751. My original source of information that I used was the Rathbone Genealogy (1898) to find the parents of Benjamin. That book said that he was the son of an elder Benjamin Rathbone and Hannah Carpenter. That’s how it has remained in my family genealogy program for at least 20 years. The problem is that the elder Benjamin married Hannah Carpenter on 31 Oct. 1732 (source: Vital Records of Rhode Island (1893)) and had children born between 1735 and 1745. I checked to see what other people had for the family on WorldConnect (WC) even though it isn’t a real good source. Most other people had the two Benjamins as father and son. Not one person on WC had any sources. There was just one person that put in their notes a reference to a source called Rathbun, Rathbone, Rathburn Family Historian from the 1980s. Thinking that it might update the Rathbone Genealogy, I searched the internet. Much to my surprise, 15 years of issues of the newsletter were available on-line as PDF files. It turned out to a great well documented source and corrected my Rathbone family data. I now know that my 6th great-parents are, in fact, Joseph Rathbone and Mary Mosher. It was great to find a good source of data on-line.

So it may be time for you run your genealogy program’s error check and see what kind of mistakes you find. Hopefully they will be simple errors to fix.

I must admit that when I put my family data on WorldConnect I also didn’t include any sources with my data. That’s one of my goals for this year; to update the data I put on WC and include the sources this time to help others that want to know where I found my data.