You would think that an Obituary with lots of information such as the one run in The Sunday Morning Star – January 28, 1912 for Emma L. Wickersham, would yield one or two family tree and you would be right.
Mrs. Emma L. Wickersham, age 43, died Saturday, January 27, 1912 so her birth year is about 1869.
She was the wife of Joseph A. Wickersham and she lived at 2118 Washington St., Wilmington, Delaware. Ancestry.com gives us the full city, county and state as [Wilmington, New Castle, Delaware, USA] They have a son named Leon.
Mrs. Wickersham was formerly known as Emma L. Cullen (maiden name) and was the only daughter in the six (6) children family of Mr. and Mrs. David Cullen of Newark. Del. Her brothers are George Cullen of Landenberg, Pa, John Cullen of Rising Sun, Md, Andrew Cullen of Elkview, Pa, Robert Cullen of Berks County, Pa, William Cullen of Chesterville, Md
So as you can see there is a lot of information and I used the information to build a fake tree. I had gotten some family tree hints on my simple search but I got mixed results so I decided to go ahead and build the fake tree. Once the tree was created with the known information I was able to narrow down the good resulting family trees to twenty. I sent out notices to all the twenty (20) tree owners telling them about finding the obituary, giving them a text file with some info and telling them that they could find a photocopy of the newspaper obituary on my fake tree.
In the following days I started seeing a flurry of activity among the different family trees. One person would copy the obit and in turn would post some other item, which another person would copy and so on; every tree own getting the items off of each other’s trees to help them with their own branch of the family tree. I even got caught up in the flurry and put a picture of Joseph A on my tree having copied it from one of the other trees. Also, somewhere along the line I put her name on my tree as Emma Lucille not as Emma L as was written in her obituary. I can’t tell you where I got that bit of information but there is was. I think I did that because most of the trees that I found listed her as Emma Lucille and so I figured they were family and must know her middle name.
Normally I don’t trust the information that is on a family tree, I just use it as reference to verify some other information but this time everything looked okay.
Normally putting in the full name instead of an initial is good practice and normally it does not cause problems but this time it caused a huge problem and I will explain it all to you in my next blog.