Friday, May 16, 2014

See an Error? Speak up!

Genealogy blogging is a two way street.  Putting genealogical information out into cyberspace is an invitation for comments, corrections, cousin connections and additional information.  I love meeting up online with other genealogists who have also studied the same ancestors, whether or not they are distant kin of mine.  It proves that genealogy is not an exact science, since new information is published all the time.  Also, new documents are being found every year, and made available to the public in archives and on line.  All this new data creates new connections or causes limbs to be trimmed off existing family trees.  Sometimes siblings are found to be from separate families, and sometimes two separate families are found to be kin.  Blog posts can help readers keep up with this explosion of information.

Overnight I received a message from a Facebook friend.  She also has a Facebook friend who has researched the EATON family I posted about last week with a “Surname Saturday” post.  This friend of a friend did not want to comment on my blog, but passed on information about a 1993 article about the John EATON family published in The American Genealogist by Douglas Richardson.   Apparently he “did not want to dispute your Eaton article”.   This makes me feel sad, because unlike a scholarly article, a blog post is a completely different kind of document.  I don’t feel as if blogs are to be “disputed” as much as they supposed are to be discussed, debated and updated.  The comments are as important as the information presented in the body of the blog post. 

Don’t feel shy about posting a comment!  You won’t offend a genealogy blogger by presenting new information about their ancestor.  I can’t think of a blogger I know who would take offense.  If there are bloggers out there who are thin skinned about corrections, they probably should trade in blogging for writing traditional articles in genealogy journals.  However, even those are peer reviewed and edited.  The give and take of ideas and information is part of the whole blogger format.  

By the way, I had several comments on the original EATON “Surname Saturday” blog post, and many Facebook comments, from other genealogy bloggers and genealogists.  Not one other genealogist caught this error!

Every comment and additional bit of information I receive online helps me to create not only an accurate family tree for my own relatives, but these tidbits of information help me to create accurate blog posts to share with the world.  Inaccurate links, dates, or information doesn’t help anyone.  Inaccuracies spread like wildfire on line.  If you have been online for any length of time, you will soon notice how inaccuracies are not only perpetuated on places like, they actually take on a life of their own that is difficult to remedy.

But it is easy to remedy corrections here on my blog.  Every time a reader sends me a comment with new information, I immediately flag that blog post with a big red UPDATE notice.  In the case of the “Facebook friend of a Facebook friend”, I quickly found the new EATON information online at the data base of journals at the New England Historic Genealogical Society website   It was in The American Genealogist, Volume 68, page 48.   The name of the article by Douglas Richardson is “The English Origin of John1 Eaton (1590 – 1668) of Salisbury and Haverhill, Massachusetts”.   John EATON was from Warwickshire, England, and not kin to William EATON at all.  They are two separate families.  This article ancestry has been traced back to his great-grandfather John ETON born about 1500 in Rowington, Warwickshire, England, and died between 4 January 1547/8 and 22 November 1548. 

The lineage of Ruth EATON, my 8th great grandmother, can be traced back through John EATON in Warwickshire and  can be seen online at this link:

Posting an update with additional data is important for beginning genealogy readers, too.  Here is a short list of reasons (of course, since this is a blog, feel free to post comments with your own reasons):

1.  To learn that a family tree is flexible- growing as well as needing pruning once in a while.  It’s OK to lop off entire branches and toss them in the compost heap, or sometimes graft them onto another limb. In this case, it was just separating two brothers and creating two separate families. 

2. To know that new information is being published all the time in journals.  You can check on several websites for the latest genealogy journals, subscribe to journals, or use lists.  My favorite is Martin Hollick’s New Englanders in the 1600s, published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010.  (Yes, this article was mentioned in this book!  How did I miss it!

3.  To realize that it is important to check for the latest in compiled genealogies in books.  My favorite for New England research is the Great Migration series by Robert W. Anderson.  There are similar books for other regions of the United States and for other countries. This series gives sketches for immigrants to New England in certain time periods, such as 1620 -1633.  Pay attention to the sources in each sketch for ideas on expanding your own research.

4. To search the genealogy blogs.  Use the search engines provided at the Geneabloggers website or the Genealogy Blog Finder at  to see if anyone else is researching your particular ancestor or area of interest.  Blogs provide the most up-to-date information, and can connect you with other genealogists.  Feel free to comment!

See my original UPDATED post about the EATON family at this link:

The URL for this post is

Copyright ©2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. As I sit here in the beauty getting my hair colored and reading my favorite blogs I wanted to say thank you for mentioning the two links for searching blogs. I was unfamiliar with them and now have another tool for my genealogical tool box!

  2. Heather, I agree with you completely! I'd welcome corrections anytime.

  3. Ditto, ditto, ditto. I'm happy for corrections on my ancestors' details posted on my blog! Thanks for bringing up this very important point.

  4. When I saw the title, my first thought was "error?" as in who is correct (a scientist friend said that genealogy looks a lot like gossip)? This is not a facetious statement; I have found that we don't know what is right without a whole lot of work. Then, "speak up" was what your friend did not do (kudos to the friend). One might try to get things to be more source-oriented but, even that, would be problematic at times (such is the way of the world).

    Being relatively new to this endeavor, I have developed a few opinions about the state (or non-state) of the art (so to speak), but expressing those will be for another time. It was nice to see reference to the Nova Scotia site. May we add another Eaton site (for those who may wonder who are the Eatons and do any relate)?

    Eaton seems to be like Wade, Gardner, and any number of other families: everywhere but of unknown relationship. I just went to look at the 1911 Eaton book (first thing that I saw when I first ran across Eaton in my research). On page 557, John is noted as a possible brother of Theophilus of CT. For those who might be interested in one historic view, here is a pointer to the book.

    Some genealogists don't like blogging or other cloud'd approaches (Gutenberg is still on the pedestal). But, as you say, it can be good. However, we also need families to step up and provide some structured presentation of data that has been verified. No collection of posts is going to do that.

    Now, what ought such look like? There are many examples already that are worthy. More seem to crop up all the time (a function of the search's industries methods plus peculiarities of query parsing and handling). might think that it offers the way (would be if things were rated and sourced) of the future. There are many other options. Myself, I would like to be able to go somewhere and read things that have been peer-reviewed. Of course, we have TEG/NEHGS/TAG (note, please, the order ;-). But, even with those, things are scattered.

    Another note. Things shown to be wrong ought not be thrown out. Keep them with the criticism visible (I had to pat the D.A.R. folks on the back for doing this).

    As some near-future point, I'll do a post with this as one of the references to extend the discussion toward activity that would reflect that we are in the 21st century (by the way, I'm 72 - and grate when I hear arguments about doing things certain ways due to tradition).

  5. Excellent post Heather! I am back from a nearly month-long blogging hiatus with a Saturday Serendipity post today. I wanted you to know that this post is mentioned.

  6. Thanks, John! It is always an honor to be on your list

  7. I agree with you as well. I'm no expert, just doing the best I can and welcome comments and corrections.