Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Great Great Grandfather Suddenly Has a New Identity......

This is a photo of my great great grandfather JOHN F MARTINE. The photo is a copy of an original that was sent to me by a relative.

 While browsing public family trees on, I discovered that someone had appropriated this photo of my gg grandfather and had given him a new identity "JOHN ALBERT MARTINE", as well as five wives and numerous children, none of them correct.  They also "borrowed" all of my research including birth and death dates and attached census records.

Clearly the person merged and combined several public family trees,  including mine.   Besides all my attached census records, which are correct for JOHN F MARTINE,  this person has my gg grandfather living in Bromley, Middlesex England in 1861, Cmudu, Glamorganshire, Wales in 1890, and Hillsborough, Somerset Co NJ in 1900.

At this point I don't know whether or not the photo was intentionally attached to the family tree, but the person has so far refused to remove it.  Their only excuse was that they are "new to this", and that I need to "back off". And now they have blocked my emails, so I can't inform them that I actually found their correct ancestor.

Here is a link to the erroneous public family tree:


Note  3/19/2011: The person has removed the photo from his/her online family tree, so I have removed the link.

And here is a link to the "correct" ancestor of the owner of the erroneous public tree.


Using the information on this person's family tree, I found their correct Martine ancestor in about two minutes. If the person had even tried to do some research, they too would have found that my great great  grandfather was not the same person as their ancestor John C Mortine/Martine, who was born in Strasbourg, France.

Here is the correct information for my great great grandfather JOHN F MARTINE, the man in the photo:

Born June 15, 1831 Spencerport, Ogden twp, Monroe Co NY
Died Jan 30, 1907 Old Soldier's Home, Orting, Pierce Co WA

Married April 12, 1851 Racine Co WI to MARY ANN SCOFIELD, as per copy of original marriage record & Civil War Pension Record. MARY ANN SCOFIELD was the daughter of CHARLES SCOFIELD & SALLY ANN HOYT DIBBLE. 

JOHN F MARTINE Fought in Civil War 2nd WI Cavalry Co G, rank Corporal. Disabled & discharged by May 1862,  as per numerous sources, including his Civil War Pension Record.

--CHARLES ALBERT MARTINE born April 12, 1854 Yorkville, Racine Co WI m Alice Miller (my great grandparents)
--IDA K MARTINE born June 24, 1857 Yorkville, Racine Co WI m James Myers
--MINNIE LUCINDA MARTINE b Aug 16, 1869 Hardin Co Iowa m 1st) William Clifton 2nd) Joseph Rainford; died Everson, Whatcom Co WA
--JOHN EDSON MARTINE b Jan 10, 1875 Kansas City, MO m (late in life) Pearl unknown in Everson, Whatcom Co WA

Census records:
--1850 Monroe Co NY Spencerport, Ogden twp census age 19 with his sister Rachel Martine age 34 only (parents both deceased)
--1860 Racine Co WI census with wife Mary Ann and children, near father in law Charles Scofield
--1870 Hardin Co Iowa census, Etna twp, town of Eldora with wife Mary Ann and children, surname incorrectly written listed as "Morten"; occupation, drayman.
--1880 Livingston Co MO census, town of Chillicothe with wife Mary Ann and children, next door to daughter Ida and son in law James Myers.

I have not been able to find JOHN F MARTINE in the 1900 census, but his Civil War Pension record shows that he & his wife were living in Kansas City, MO until the late 1890s, before moving to Whatcom Co WA to be near their daughter Minnie.

Here is a photo of JOHN F MARTINE's tombstone in the Old Soldier's Cemetery, Orting, Pierce Co WA.


© Betty Tartas  2011


Barbara Poole said...

Betty, I wonder if that person knows that you are one of the best genealogists out there and are so thorough in your research. It is their loss, and indeed sad. I couldn't check their link to Ancestry, since I dropped my sub. a month ago. Did you ever tell them you have a blog? That is one of the first things I do, so they know I'm a serious with genealogy. Keep us posted. I would be willing to write them, in your behalf.

Betty said...

Thanks Barb for the vote of confidence! I respect your opinion as a genealogist, and your praise means a lot to me. :)

I just emailed a copy of the text of my blog to It will be interesting to see what they say (if they ever respond).

I also attached a link to my blog in the comment section of the erroneous family tree.

If people want to merge Ancestry public family trees and the fill their online family trees with misinformation, that's their business. But I don't think they should be able to attach other people's family photos to the wrong individual. needs to make sure that doesn't happen.

Astrid said...

Wow, that sucks. I have also found trees with incorrect information. In two cases, I found they were not even related and had the wrong people -- my people. I found the correct people for them... and guess what... two years later and my people are still on both trees. One of them also has my pictures attached. I don't get why they want non-related people as ancestors.

Linda McCauley said...

Not that I think it would really do any good but have you tried contacting Ancestry? It would really be interesting to see what their position is on this situation. It's bad enough when there is incorrect information in those trees (much of which is directly caused by Ancestry's "point & click genealogy" in my opinion) but attaching a picture of one person to a completely different person really crosses the line as far as I'm concerned.

Betty said...

Thanks Linda & Astrid; I have emailed and I have posted a link to this blog on their Facebook page. So far, no response.

This morning I made all my family trees "private". None of my other photos attached to my family trees have been misused in this way.

Yvonne C Johnson said...

It is wonderful that people use the ability to put trees on However, THIS is exactly the reason why I don't put one on anywhere publicly. I have two cousins that stole my complete family history, all 13,000 + of them and then made books and made a profit. That was just by "being nice and sharing" because they were family members. They attached their names as their sources and that they were the ones who found this information. Genealogy has become more of a profit to people. A way to make money. For me, my ancestors aren't for sale. Perhaps this person who did this is trying to make money. Even if you do make it private, when you do accept someone to look at your tree, they can still change things on their end, not on your tree... but on theirs and then you start back at square one. Resolution to all this? I have no idea. I don't want to be Mrs. Scrooge, but dang, I worked hard to find my info and get my pictures... don't misuse them. I am so sorry this happened to you Barbara.

David Smith said...

Unfortunately Ancestry's advertising encourages intellectual laziness.

I'm fighting a never ending battle because people keep connecting the passenger ship record of my paternal grandmother Alice Ingeborg Eriksson, b. 1899 to a semi mythological Swedish Queen named Ingeborg Thandsdotter who, assuming she actually existed, would have been born around 980 AD.

Most people don't make the correction, usually saying something like " Ancestry told me this so it must be true". One person even argued with me saying " how do you know she wasn't married before"

My response was " Yes, you're right, she time travelled from the 1st millennium where she was royalty to work as a cook and marry a sign painter".

I have 3 other relatives who have been hijacked like yours, spouses and children changed, yet they kept all the other info from my tree, which includes info not available on Ancestry.

Kay said...

This has happened to me on 2 different occasions. I'm not sure how can prevent it really. I have started adding as many sources to my tree as possible, obits especially if I can find them; hopefully people would want to compare closely before actually creating their own fantasy family tree!

Betty said...

Kay, dcsmith & Yvonne, thanks for your insight & comments!

I'll post on this blog if anything changes.


Anonymous said...

Don't people even proofread before they post? I saw one that had a man married when he was four years old. I emailed some photos to a distant relative of my husband. She thanked me and said she was going to look through it and get back to me. I never heard from her again, but she posted the pictures I sent her.

Unknown said...

I am so happy to see others are facing the same problems as myself and I really feel these online sites need to up there game to at least slow the perpetuation of false information.

My own experience is that I get frustrated at seeing genealogy posted on sites such as familysearch or ancestry that is quite simply not accurate. I see people who are probably some version of a cousin thinking the Gregory's (my line anyway) originated in Scotland as MacGregors which is not true. My Y-dna proves that we originated in England or perhaps Frisia, but certainly not the MacGregors of Scotland.

My question is, short of emailing hundreds of people at numerous sites, how is the best way to show these people their mistakes and perhaps turn some towards spitting in the process? My concern is that if I do not do something, false assumptions of genealogical ancestors will continue and the facts will not emerge.

Anyway good luck with it all.


researcher in maine said...

Betty - Thank you for sharing your story on the Ancestry FB wall. I am so sorry to hear this has happened to you and can relate to your frustration and disappointment. I do hope that the information gets corrected and you get feedback (positive) from Ancestry TGN.
As one of your posters said, "Unfortunately Ancestry's advertising encourages intellectual laziness." - this is an accurate statement!
Good luck!

Karen said...

The same thing happened to me, someone posted 2 of my pictures to their tree, after contacting them, thankfully they removed them from their tree - and now my tree is private too! Good luck with your situation!!

Y said...

Hi, I have not been aware of that this could happen .. It is of course very, very disappointed ... it does not feel nice at all...
Genealogy should be fun and nice!

Betty said...

Thanks everyone who posted comments! As of Saturday March 19, the photo of my gg grandfather John F Martine has been removed from the erroneous family tree.