I did some research on the Ditmars before I understood the dangers of online trees. As I got back to this line to verify, elaborate and confirm, I began deleting the trees I had saved for future reference. At one point I thought they would at least provide clues, but I’ve since learned that even clues might waste a lot of time.
I’ve been unraveling information to eliminate obvious errors and to uncover information that will confirm the lineage. Part of the problem stems from many online sites where researchers (one of them actually a Ditmars!) have confused a person in one generation with a person in another, effectively eliminating a generation. With the Ditmars confusion is understandable—it seems as if every family after the original immigrant, had sons with the names Johannes or Jan and Douwe, Dutch naming traditions can make things pretty complicated pretty fast.
To avoid the most obvious mistakes, there are a few general guidelines I follow each time I move back a generation. First, if there is enough information, I look at the ages. In the generational mix-up I encountered with the Ditmars, there was a Douwe born around 1642 confused for the Douwe born in about 1668. This mistake was compounded in subsequent generations, not helped at all by the many sons named Johannes that I was sorting through. But what really tipped me off was Douwe’s will written in 1752. Hmmm…110 years old? The second guideline is the birth date of the mother as it compares to her children. In this generational mix-up, a mother born about1656 with a son born about 1752.
This is gonna take awhile.