An Alternate Reality

Who can forget Back to the Future when he manages to totally rewrite history simply because he lets a sports almanac fall into the wrong hands?

Updating my family tree, I fairly regularly discover I have given people extra children, who belong to somebody else or have attached a census to the wrong person and totally rewritten their whole life. Pondering that somewhere in some alternate reality, an ancestor has suddenly found their whole lives in disarray, can be disconcerting.  Perhaps they could avoid continually giving their descendants the same name or at least tack numbers(or better still their jobs) on the end of their names for the sake of some of we more challenged genealogists. (72)


Then of course there is the issue of photographs. Is it to much to hope that somebody somewhere in the future will confuse my photo with that of Cindy Crawford, at least for a day? When I first started on Ancestry, I had  happily added people with abandon from other people’s trees, watching enthralled as my tree had grown exponentially and the family members had climbed into the thousands.

(On occasion overlooking that there might be four people of the same name with the exact same date of birth etc, all  of whom had different mothers or more challenging still the same poor mother).

Well, eventually having had my fun, I  had been forced to go back to relieve these busy people of their additional offspring (among other things). This is reminiscent of some very famous criminal investigations which have found themselves swamped with data. I do think this might perhaps be a necessary stage but eventually somebody, somewhere has to cry,

“Enough!” and begin to methodically to sift through and fact check all the data.

My approach has been.  “Ok I’ve had my fun but now what can I actually prove?”

It can be entertaining to contemplate my ancestors suddenly unburdened of the extra mouths at their table. For example James Panton, the Town Crier had presented me with just such a dilemma. I could only resolve the issue definitively(I hope) by delving into the newspaper archives and  thus being  able to obtain a date of birth for the Town Crier. Of course, there is obviously still room to be mistaken, causing some poor guy who has quietly spent his life working on a farm, to find himself making proclamations in the middle of Lincoln, simply because he shares a name and a year of birth, with a city-dwelling namesake.

By nature I am  drawn to mathematics, where on the whole we can perform a calculation and obtain an exact answer. Logic puzzles have  also given me many happy hours. However people have consistently refused to conform to mathematical formulas for my convenience, so exact conclusions have often remained elusive,

In the meantime. If you are reading this in the future, healthy scepticism of my research is ok. However please feel free to let it go, if you fear you may have confused my profile photo with that of a renowned super model.

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