|Travel Document for Maria Gereken 1867|
I know this because I soon found details from my trees (details that only I knew) published elsewhere, with no link back to me and no mention that I was the source. It wasn't gratitude or thanks that I wanted. What I wanted was the connection with other descendants! I wanted the opportunity to share information and photos, and to find out how this new "cousin" fit in to the family.
It was also distressing to see my trees merged with other trees and the resulting mess that often ensued. Many family tree researchers don't look at the facts and assess them to see if they fit with their ancestors. One of the worst I ever saw was a tree that was a compilation of other trees, complete with "sources". But the "sources" when checked, did not match the facts for the individual! I hated seeing my careful research mangled into something unrecognizable. And no, I'm not saying I am infallible. My research can lead my astray. But I'm methodical and cautious and I analyse the sources and facts within before adding them to my tree.
So I deleted my online trees in favour of "teasers" on my Olive Tree Genealogy website. These "teasers" were just a brief summary of my tree, and a prominent email link for descendants to contact me. They work well and they provide me with new cousins with whom I can share information and stories.
But last year I grit my teeth and put my youngest son's family tree on a third party website. I did this because I wanted to share the information I had on the family. It was proving difficult to research, as the immigrant ancestors were from Germany and settled in Yorkshire England circa 1869. I also hoped that the broader exposure than my website could give the family would result in a descendant or two finding me.
Yesterday it paid off. I was contacted by a man who is descended from the sister of my son's great-grandpa Schulze. And best of all his family has the Family Bible! Soon I was looking at scanned images of three pages of the births and deaths of the children of the immigrant ancestors Henry and Mary Schulze. I also learned their German names - Georg Heinrich Christian Schulze and Maria Catharina Friederike Gereken. The Bible entries are in beautiful ornate script, no doubt written by Maria herself at the birth of each of her children.
This new-found cousin is a wealth of information. He also shared the scanned Travel Documents issued to Mary Gereken in 1867 when she planned to leave Germany for England. I asked his permission to share these records with other family members and it was quickly granted. This is a very exciting find and one I'm anxious to share with my son and his Schulze aunt.
But I'm still not going to put my entire family tree online. This encounter was a wonderful example of the best that can come from putting your tree "out there". But I believe it's atypical and as happy and excited as I am, I don't trust that I will be lucky enough to have that good experience again. The ugly part of online trees have scared me off.