Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How is a family tree like an elephant?

I can think of two ways that a family tree is like an elephant.

They are both very big.

They appear to be different things to different people, depending on their view. A family tree is like the old story about blind men examining an elephant: the one holding the tail said it was a rope, the one holding the trunk said it was big snake, the one holding a leg said it was a tree.

Today I worked on the profile for Mehitable Johnson, born in 1644 in Massachusetts Bay Colony.

For the descendant who entered her data as sister to their Johnson ancestor, she was Mehitable Johnson. A different descendant whose ancestor was Mehitable's first husband described her as Mehitable Hinsdale. Another researcher who was filling data on their Root ancestors logged her as Mehitable Root. A descendant of John Coleman noted her as Mehitable Coleman.

Indeed, like the elephant, she was all of the above. She was born to Humphrey Johnson and Elenor Cheney; her first husband, Samuel Hinsdale, was killed by Indians, her second husband, John Root suffered the same fate, and her last husband, John Coleman, died before she did. She was widowed three times, and with her birth name, her record appears under four different names.

This is why WikiTree invented merges. Building one tree for everyone and their ancestors is a large ambition. It takes time, patience and special software. One of the best tools is the merge function. Because Mehitable is one person, not four people, I used the merge tool and captured the data from all four profiles into a single profile. Mehitable now shows up as the courageous, tenacious, wife and mother that she was, living on the frontier, raising her seven children, resilient and strong. She died at about forty-five years of age, August 4, 1689 at Hatfield, Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Now, all her names: Johnson; Hinsdale; Root; Coleman are together on her profile. If you were a descendant and searching WikiTree for Mehitable under any of her names - you would find her.

1 comment:

GoldiBear said...

Good Job, Pandababy!!!