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Kimberly Powell

Genealogy Goofs

By October 24, 2006

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While the spooky names are interesting, this Halloween press release from Ancestry.com also shows some of the difficulties presented in reading and interpreting old census records. For example:

Double Check All Facts: Alla Witch identified in the above mentioned press release is actually "Ella Ulitch." The last name in the 1920 census appears to have been misread - the "Ul" being misidentified as a "W" which is an easy mistake. The Alla for Ella appears to have been misspelling on the part of the census taker. The family's name in the 1910 Census is more easily read as Ulitch, and the Ella's husband is also easily identified as Henry Ulitch on his WWI Draft Registration Card. Entries like this are very common in the census and other genealogical records, and are why we should always try to find more than one source, when possible, to support our facts.

Don't Rely on the Index: The Devil family from Minneapolis, Minnesota, identified by Ancestry.com in the 1930 census is actually the Droel family. The 1930 census index indeed lists the family as Devil, but a quick look at the actual census image makes it clear that they are not. It is hard to tell if the name should be Druel or Droel, but it is obvious -- at least to me -- that the name is not Devil. William Arthur Droel appears in the Minnesota Death Index and his name is also clear on his WWI Draft Registration Card. His son, Louis W. Droel can be found in the SSDI. A good reason to never rely solely on indexes!

Always Consider Alternate Spellings: The Jacob Monster from the 1910 census in New Jersey is listed as Jacob Munster in most other records, including the 1900 census, his WWI Draft Registration Card, and the SSDI.

While this was only a press release about interesting names, and not an attempt to define family relationships, it is still a good example of the mistakes we can all make when we do our research too quickly -- caught up in the excitement of the moment -- and don't take extra time to verify our facts. Otherwise you may find a few "devils" causing mischief in your family tree!

Related:
How to Apply the Genealogical Proof Standard to Your Family Tree
8 Ways to Avoid Barking Up the Wrong Family Tree

Comments
October 26, 2006 at 12:19 am
(1) Jan says:

I have found errors in census records and in other resources as well. If have official documents, can they be submitted to initiate corrections?

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