Following a False Lead

There comes a point in every family historian’s life when they realise they’ve been barking up the wrong tree so to speak. It can be terribly frustrating and disheartening, especially if you’ve spent days, weeks, months, even years, going down one route only to suddenly realise you’ve got it all wrong.

Yes, this has happened to me.


In two days.

Having spent some time away from the actual family tree research – I’ve been focusing most of my time recently on scanning and archiving the family photos and documents in my possession – I decided to approach it all with fresh eyes; to be more discerning in separating the wheat from the chaff. There’s a lot of chaff.

Tracing the family history involves a lot of detective work and sometimes you just get it wrong. You follow a false lead and before you know it, you’re spending hours searching in the wrong family. This happens a lot amongst amateur genealogists, especially if you blindly follow other people’s paper trails without verifying the information yourself.

I thought I was being careful but in retrospect I should have smelt a rat. Things didn’t make sense for a while.

So, where did I go wrong?

The big one is the Matson family. I’ve been following a lead for several months. I was so convinced I had it right I even wrote an article about Elizabeth Matson (since been updated). Having taken a step back from it all and looking at all the information objectively (plus some additional digging) I realised I was working on very shaky grounds.

Initially I was pretty discouraged by it all but then a whole new world of opportunity opened up to me as I have discovered a treasure trove of new information. I can’t wait to share my new discoveries with you all so watch this space.

Secondly, and to a much lesser degree, some of the early Hill family information is wrong. As a result the Hill Family Tree on this website is smaller than it was but not to worry, we will get there in time.

Family history research is not an exact science. Things can go wrong and often do, but sometimes you do have to take that leap of faith. There’s nothing wrong with that, just so long as you are committed to following through with the investigation and if it doesn’t pan out be prepared to cut your losses and start over with what you do know.

Genealogy is hard work but so worth it.

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