That may sound like a Mother’s Day message, and indeed, it’s a good thing to remember: Be good to your Moms, folks.
But I’m posting it in a spirit of celebration over having solved a problem that’s been worrying me no end the last week or two.
Any fans of Catch-22 out there? Remember The Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice? Well, when looking at my family tree — or portions of it — that was me.
First, I noticed with puzzlement that my father was on the tree twice. Not as duplicates, so I couldn’t merge the two Dads using the Ancestry tool for that. The database saw him as just one person, but displayed him twice, with a twist: One version of him showed up alone, with no wife or family. The other showed him in relation to my Mom, my brother and me.
Ditto with all four of his siblings: One version of each alone, another version with their families.
Then, I saw with alarm, the weirdness had spread to my father’s father and his siblings. Then, to his father and his siblings. Finally, to my great-great grandfather Nathan Benton Warthen and his siblings!
I needed to fix this, because I badly needed to back up the tree on my hard drive by syncing with Family Tree Maker, but I didn’t want to infect my offline tree with… whatever this was.
I had some anxious chats with people at Ancestry about this. They kept saying there must be someone — in one of those four generations, or maybe a generation or two before or after — who was listed as being married to a close relative, or had some other irregularity in his or her close relationships. That would cause all those people to be “related” to me in more than one way, hence the duplication.
Do you realize how many people that meant I had to check, tediously, one by one? I mean, Nathan Benton Warthen had 10 kids — nine with my great-great grandmother, and one with his second of three wives. I had to check each of them and all of their descendants that were on my tree.
Unfortunately, I started with the present day and worked back. I’ve been doing this during spare moments for days…
But finally, eureka! Finally, I checked Augustus Thomas Warthen, the one child of Nathan Benton and that second wife, Emma Augusta Adams, to whom I’m not related. (Nathan’s third wife was also named “Emma.” I guess that simplified things for him.) Bingo! It showed him with two mothers — Emma Augusta, and my great-great grandmother, Rhoda Ann Etchison.
Apparently, I was careless in copying some information from another Ancestry tree, maintained by someone who was mistaken about who Augustus’ mother was. So the correct datum and the wrong one were at war with each other, causing nasty ripples in the continuum.
I severed his link to Rhoda, and a miracle occurred — I no longer saw everybody twice.
Yeah, I know y’all don’t care. But it made my week. And I pass it on for those of you who have trees on Ancestry as well.
Remember: You just get one mother.