Thursday, May 8, 2014

Another Merging Disaster

Well, it happened again, another merging disaster. I had a member of my society come into the library yesterday when I was volunteering. She was a little confused on the subject of Trees, Family Tree Maker Trees and the trees she access through her iPad using the app.

She kept talking about them being different trees. Since she uses Family Tree Maker version 2014 and has her tree linked to, I explained that they are one and the same tree. Well, sort of. The problem is that she had many “similar” trees on Ancestry. For Example; (I have changed the names to protect her identity) She had one tree called “My Tree”, then another called “My Tree(1), another called My Trees and then she had a few other trees that were just portions of her original tree.

My friend explained that previous to having FTM 2014, she had FTM version 8. Then she received an iPAD and started exploring and merging records she found into her tree. But since she was using FTM Version 8 on her laptop, this was not synced to her tree. She still was doing separate things on her laptop. OUCH! She realized the error of her ways and then purchased FTM 2014 which I helped installed on her laptop. I thought at that time, I moved her tree back to her laptop with version FTM2014 since we decided she had done way more stuff on this tree than the one she previously had on her laptop. That was back in late February.

So fast forward to yesterday and now I find she basically is using two trees, My Tree and My Tree(1). To make things even more confusing, My Tree on her laptop was tied to My Tree(1) on and My Tree(1) on her laptop was tied to her My Tree on She told me that the tree she has been using lately on her iPad is showing “living” people. When I say “living” I mean the person’s names are living as in viewing other people’s trees. I have a feeling she was merging other people’s trees into her own and thus creating “living” people in her tree.

She wanted to merge these two trees into one new tree, I advised against it for several reasons. 1st of all, it would take forever to merge two such huge trees into one. 2nd it may take a while to sort through all the matches to verify that in fact they are the same person. 3rd, I don’t have much luck when merging such similar trees into one and since these were not my trees, I was scared.

So I decided to look at the trees and the people in them. They were almost the same size with almost the same number of people, a difference of about 9 people. Also, I found that she was correct that one tree had “living” people in it. The other tree had the same people, however, with their names. I suggested that we save the tree that had people’s names in it. She agreed, yeah! Then I suggested that we remove all the trees from and start over. Again, she agreed. I explained that she might lose some facts or people because at this point and time, we don’t know what is in this tree. Again, she agreed and continued. I offered to save the trees from Ancestry to her computer in a separate folder but she said she didn’t want to deal with them. I deleted the trees from Then I went into her computer and removed all but the tree we decided to keep from her computer along with all the backups, new and old.

I re-linked the tree back to, showed her how to make a backup to a flash drive and turned her tree syncing into a Manual operation.

She has decided to take the advice of a friend of hers, from her DAR chapter to never, ever merge from Ancestry but instead manually key it into her Family Tree Maker program. This way she would decide what she is exactly merging in. I agree with her DAR chapter friend.  I told her that I like using the iPad Ancestry app as my lookup screen with my laptop. I will follow the leaf suggestions and see them on my iPad but record them into my laptop (no merging). I find this easier than switching screens on my laptop. I still have Ancestry open on my laptop, so that I can save the source, but switching for the saving is simple task.

I noticed that she duplicated some of her people and I did show her why this might have happened. I proceeded to try to merge one person to a suggested shaking leaf. I clicked merge and showed her the section that shows who could get merged or added to her tree. I showed how when you get to the other people it found in the source that you can ignore, add, or merge into an existing person and perhaps she was “adding” instead of merging into an existing person. I cancelled the merge and explained this is why it is sometimes better to just manually record the information into your tree.  

Fingers crossed, I am hoping she will be fine for now, that her tree isn't too far gone and that she can recover from this little disaster.  Now I probably should start to practice what I preach, but I must admit that sometimes I use the “merge” source facts for my co-lateral lines instead of typing all that information myself. I do this in spite of the fact that I don’t like how Ancestry creates my source citations and it saves the media to my media folder, but I don’t have a copy of it in my organized folders. I know I can look up the media attached to the source, but sometimes I am looking at a printed document of my tree and what to bring up the source and not have to open my program to do it. So note to myself: go back and fix your files and do your research the right way for the beginning.