Do you ever have trouble trying to merge two individuals that you think should be combined on FamilySearch? Today’s your lucky day! We’re going to talk about whether you should and how to do it.
FamilySearch is a one-tree, collaborative effort. What that means is there are no private trees. we’re all trying to work on the same, common ancestors all up and down our branches.
The difficulty in that is sometimes on FamilySearch there are multiple instance instances of the same individual and they need to be merged together
If you’ve watched or read any of the Research Over My Shoulder Series videos or posts, you will see that I’m picking on the Winfield Underwood family once again. In this case, we’re gonna talk about the possibility of him having a second wife, like we talked about in this clue web.
We’re also going to decide whether Bertie is the child of the second wife or if the second wife is just the first wife and she needs to be merged on this family tree.
Notice we have a Bertie, an Emmett Burt and an Albert. We’re gonna focus on Bertie. Hopefully, when I’m done, you can decide if Emmett Burt and Albert are the same individuals and if they should be merged.
If examine this profile, you’re going to see Winfield is married to a Mrs. Winfield Underwood. No one knew what her name was. They thought the couple had a child named Bertie Underwood.
The biggest difference between the two Berties is that one child was born in 1870 while the other was born in 1890. Wow, that’s a bit of a stretch! The biggest problem is that Winfield would have been 13 when he fathered the Bertie born in 1870.
To solve this problem, we need to see what sources are attached to try to figure this out. On the person page for the second Bertie, the one that’s attached to the Mrs. Winfield Underwood profile, you’ll quickly notice there are only two sources.
One source is the 1900 census for W*filed. I’ve mentioned this census record and the error in a previous video on YouTube. This census applies to Winfield and his wife Rhoda Kelly, but does it relate to either of the Berties?
Before I examined the actual census image, I reviewed the extracted information from that census to review the family structure. Notice the family includes W*field, Rhoda, Logan, Bertie and a number of other children.
It’s important to note that the 1900 census instructed the census recorder to list the children in a household below the head of the household and in order from oldest to youngest. But, what do you notice?
Bertie is thirty years old and is not listed in the oldest child’s position. (This census record also identifies relationships).
What do you think is going on?
Sadly, the person who attached this record to Bertie’s profile did not leave a reason statement explaining why they attached this record to this family or created this person profile. I have a blog post about writing reason statements (Click here). Please always leave a statement of why you attach records or make changes to FamilySearch Family Tree. (okay, soapbox moment complete).
When we actually examine the record, you can see the enumerator’s handwriting and why things become a little strange. Notice these years beside Rhoda and the children. Rhoda’s birth year is 1871 the first child was born in 1888. When we come to Bertie that third digit in the year is challenging to read. It looks a bit like 1870 but it doesn’t fit with the birth order. It also looks like 1890. Can we make a firm judgment?
The next child’s entry has the year 1892. Comparing that third digit for Bertie and her sibling, do the numbers look similar?
Yes, they do.
We have a mistake.
How are we going to change the age of Bertie, then merge her two profiles, keep her connected with Winfield, and ensure she’s the daughter of Rhoda and not Mrs. Winfield Underwood.
The first thing we’re going to do is merge the Bertie from the Mrs. Winfield Underwood profile family into the other Bertie.
When it comes to merging, it’s easier to show rather than tell, which is why I’ll direct you to the video to watch the steps in action.
What happens if you make a mistake?
If you make a mistake and two folks should not have been merged, you can always undo the merge. FamilySearch has your back!
If you can make the case that two individuals are the same in the FamilySearch Family Tree, MERGE THEM! There is no sense having all of this clutter and having people doing duplicate work on the same individual.
Embrace the merge!