Alex Haley, author "Roots", 1976
Alex Haley, author "Roots", 1976
I started working on the family tree 10 years ago, from the middle of 2008. Chris and I split who would do which side of the family. Chris took Dad’s side which is the Johnson/Riddle side, I chose Mom’s side which was the Farrington/Alexander side. I had the start of dad’s side tree from my cousin Rex, (Rex Allen Johnson 1940 – 2014)(See Below). Rex was our Uncle Bob’s (dad’s oldest brother, Robert Carl Johnson (1918-1962)), son by his first marriage to Olive Marie Wagner (1920 – 1996). An interesting note: was that all of Uncle Bob’s kids, in his first marriage, were very close to our father’s age (Rex was 10 years younger).
As I researched the internet for my our ancestors, I discovered that, some of the data and records that I had obtained were now showing up on other genealogy websites. For my family members who are still alive, some privacy must be provided to ensure that personal information isn’t posted for the general public. Most of the data you find on genealogy sites are family members and ancestors who are deceased. The truth is, that anytime I have upload information to a website, rather it be a copy of our family tree, or documents, I am placing my trust in a company that I do not have control over, or know exactly what they will do with this information. This is the case for everything from posts on forums to social media sites – from cloud storage to online banking information – and most importantly, our family tree and all the information it contains.Rex had given me a copy of his work that he had completed on his side of the family, when I was in High School. I kept it in my safe for 30 years while I was in the Military and then into my civilian years, until I started the famly tree in 2008. Unfortunately Chris, who I loaned it to, misplaced my original, (wish I had made a copy). After a year of working separately, we gave each other a copy of what we had gotten done on each side of the famly. From that time on I continued working on our family tree.
An example of what I am saying is, without mentioning names; a large genealogy company that I used for research, had taken all of my files and published them online in their databases, even though I had made my tree private. So here I am paying them to do my research online; then they take my research add it to their database, then charge others for the information that I had gathered for my own tree. I do take some responsibility for this. These genealogy companies must have informed me in their terms and conditions, and of course, you have to agree to their terms to use the site. I personally feel these companies should have clearly informed me, that my tree and research would be used in this way – they never did!
I have put countless hours of research into our family tree, and I do NOT want it available for just anyone to access without our family’s permission, especially for my ancestors who are still living. And as anyone who works on or in genealogy knows – some of the information that you collect for your tree is never 100% accurate. Our family tree is a work-in-progress, that is for our family and is not intended to be shared with others without our approval. The last point is that in my research of our family, only “I” know which names, dates, details, and stories still needed further research — someone copying my tree does not.
Am I going to stop using all these genealogy sites? NO! But now, I know I must be more cautious with my data. This was my reasoning for running my own server and websites. By using my own server, I maintain control over all my data and information. It also allows me to maintain some ownership over our data. Our family tree and data is available for all family members, and only they should decide how the site, information, and data can be used, copied, or made public.