This just drives me to utter despair...I know there are many placenames in America which are the same as those in England...emigrants often gave their new towns and settlements the same name as the one they'd left behind...but...and this is a very big but...Europeans only began to travel to America in the early 1600's...as far as we are aware anyway. And I thought that would be common knowledge...in other words I thought everyone knew that. It isn't rocket science after all...it's documented. Ancestry have lists as long as your arm of the passengers who sailed to a new land and a new life dating way back to the time of the Mayflower itself. And you can look them up. It's a bit of a hassle admittedly...but they are there for the searching.

So...why is it I keep coming across family trees of folk who've confidently put their deceased relative down as having either been born in America or died there when they actually lived and died in a small village in the middle of Oxfordshire...or somewhere similar...

Mustn't the misinformation they gaily include in their research throw them totally off when it's all written down? Don't they ever look to see what other people have put in their family trees about the self-same person and think it ever so slightly odd that the place of birth, marriage and death are completely different? Don't they ever stop to consider how a long dead cousin actually managed to make it to America in the 1500's? Or even the more recent long dead cousin who was born in Norfolk,England while they happily state that all the siblings were born in Norfolk, Virginia without bothering to wonder how that was so when there isn't a single record to back it up...

The American records are extensive and pretty thorough...certainly when I was looking for Max's family and latterly for Gracies, all the information you could need is there in black and white on the various forms people filled in and returned to Government during their lifetimes...and there are individual city and town records of where you were employed with the street address...so I'm wondering if these deluded folk struggle to find the long dead cousin who not only sailed away to America long before anyone else did but also failed miserably to ever fill in a single tax form or a statement of their land holdings or where they were employed...

It's all there you see...everything from how much land you acquired and the house you lived in, to the number of servants you had, or in later days, how many slaves you happened to own. It does take a bit of patience to find it all out admittedly...but it can be done.

Sometimes your search just goes tits up, if you'll pardon the expression, and the person you know full well existed is so elusive that your eyes begin to cross and you get a headache from trying desperately to read a passenger list presumably written by an illiterate chimpanzee. But they aren't all indeciperable...so why do the researchers of family trees not check the hard facts before they gaily add the completely wrong information...

Another 'mistake' is putting down the names of a persons parents when the child was born fifty years before its Mother. That's something else which really gets me spitting pins. Stop and have a bit of a think before you invent a birthdate to suit yourself...check it first. Read back over what you've included and actually look at the dates you've put down and wonder how Mary Smith managed to give birth to little Johnny when she'd been dead for the last thirty years.

There's no harm you see, in leaving a blank or saying you don't know that yet so you'll leave it until you do and then verify the facts before you add them to your tree.

There's not much point in compiling the history of your family or anyone elses for that matter, if the actual facts are wrong. What's the point in spending ages sitting in front of your computor and carefully making your family tree if you decieve yourself and others to the correct information.

But it is the emigrating to America which is my particular bugbear and has me heaving heavy sighs and wondering just how ignorant some Americans are about their founding...I've lost count of the number of times I've found someone who was born in America when a quick look at the birth records for that year show they were born in Oxfordshire in England or London or somewhere I've never heard of and have to look it up.

Our history lessons at school were pretty dire...tending towards the learning by rote of the wives of HenryV111 and little else...and maybe it is much the same in American schools...perhaps it is a case of learning about one subject to the exclusion of everything else...but wouldn't you think that if you're sufficently interested to compile your family tree that you'd also be interested in where your family originated and not automatically presume that it must be America...