To be absolutely honest, if you really wanted to, you could just make up your Genealogy and say you are related to whomever you wish. Who would really know? Maybe family would, but how many of them have actually taken the time to research their roots? The farther back you go, the less your family would know about their Ancestors. Friends and acquaintances’ would never know that you were not really related to George Washington. However, just making up our Family History is not the goal. Developing an honest, accurate account of your lineage is the goal. This is done by finding and verifying information and documents that prove your claims. In order to join the organization, The Daughters of The American Revolution, I had to prove that I had a least one Ancestor who fought in that War. I had to submit documentation by way of birth or death certificates, pictures of Headstones, wills, etc to show my direct line back to this family member. In doing so I established that I did indeed have a connection going back to beginning of our Country. I couldn’t have done this if I did not have the documentation.
There is nothing more embarrassing than to be sitting and talking with a relative and you tell them about some of the interesting things you have found out about the Family History and they ask you to show them and you can’t. Just saying “I remember Aunt Rosie telling us that story” or “I think I read that in a book somewhere” or “I just copied someone else’s information from Ancestry.com about this relative” won’t make what you are saying believable. If you can pull out a document or picture and show them “proof” then you save yourself having to sit there with a red face. When I went to visit my cousin in Jefferson City, MO this happened to me. I had been researching the Hayes line of my family. I had used other people’s information they had put up on Ancestry.com without looking for any documentation that would confirm what I was entering. I was really excited because according to what I was inputting I had “traced” my roots back to Ireland all the way to the 1500’s. I really impressed myself. Before going to Missouri my cousin had told me she had hit a “brick wall” with our Hayes line and asked me if I had any information on it could I bring it? Well I printed it all out and took it with me. When my cousin looked over the information I had so proudly handed her, the first words out of her mouth was “Did you get this from Ancestry.com?” The second thing she asked was “Do you have any documentation for this?” I could have curled up into a ball and cried I was so embarrassed. It was only natural for her to ask me these questions because she has learned a long time ago about the value of providing proof for your documents. That was the day I learned my lesson to make sure I can prove my claims to the people I have listed in my lines.
Excerpt from my book: Your Family History: Doing It Right The First Time http://tinyurl.com/lua7ojt