Ghost People on My Ancestry Tree

Have you ever come across this problem?

You are looking at your tree and there seems to be duplicate people on it.

We see that there are two John boxes on the tree layout but on the list of “All People” there is only one (1) John.

What is going on?

To find out you have to bring up the profile page of the ghost person. You can do it right from the list; just click on their name and the profile page will come up.

Or you can go back to the tree and select his profile that way.

On the profile page we see on the right side that there are some additional clues.

For one, Nancy is his step mom and there is a note under her.

“Additional parent relationships”. Click on it.

When you click on the “Additional…” you get the additional person. So you now know John has some problems with his relationship box.

Once in the Relationships panel you can see that indeed John has two mothers; a Step and a Biological.

You can use the X to remove one of the mothers. When you do that the tree will no longer had two John’s.

To learn more about relationships on Ancestry dot com you might want to look at one of my blog post:

Now imagine if you made a mistake and assigned a second wife to a person.

Look what happens. Ghosts all over the place.

To fix this mess we have to go into the person’s profile page and just remove the extra spouse.

When you see duplicates on your tree don’t panic and delete them.

Take a deep breath and investigate.

The duplicates you see might just be ghosts that look like duplicates but are just relationship problems.

The good thing about this relationship problem is that you do not have to go to counseling to solve it.

Look at the suspect people and check their relationship boxes and do the same for the people that show up connected to the “ghost” people. You might find that somewhere along the line you assigned a second person where there should only be one.

Bonus How To:

Now if you really have two people on the tree, walk very lightly because you do not want to remove the wrong duplicate.

What I do in such cases, I review both profiles pages, and then I go into the profile page of one of the real duplicates; usually the one that has the least amount of sources. I then edit their name to read something like this. “Elliot M Smith” will be renamed “Elliot M delete Smith”.

Now if I go into the List of all People I see “Elliot M Smith” and “Elliot M delete Smith”. Next I go into the “Elliot M delete…” profile page and compare the sources he has with the sources on the other “Elliot M”. If the delete guy has a source that the other one does not have I go into that source record and save it to my good “Elliot M” person. I then remove that source from the “Elliot M delete” profile page and I do the same for all the other sources; compare and remove or compare, save to good and then remove from the delete person.

I do this so as not to have to look for all those sources I had assigned to my “Elliots”. Once I have cleaned up all the sources from the “delete” profile page, I look at the people assigned to my “delete” and “good” persons on their profile page. If they both have the same people then I delete the “Elliot M delete” person and thus have only a good Elliot.

You can be extra careful and rename both Elliots while you review their sources and people.

One “Elliot M delete Smith” and the other “Elliot M good Smith”, and this way you don’t make a mistake.

It is like brain surgery or defusing a bomb…

do it carefully now, so you don’t cause bigger problems down the road.

I hope this short post on “How To” detect real duplicates and ghost duplicates has helped you solve your “hair pulling” problem.

As always feel free to as questions in the comments and or point out errors in the lesson above.

Thank You

Jose A Munoz from Clarkston, Michigan, USA

Reminder: YouTube has many good genealogy videos, so look for answers there if you can’t find a good solution on my blog. I did a search while getting ready for this blog post. I wanted to see if they covered these ghost people; I did not find a video on the topic. –

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