Find A Grave Contributions: The Battle & Current Status

Search Family Disambiguation’s cemetery records at

by clicking on this phrase: Family Disambiguation.

(So far, I haven’t figured out how to fix this link any other way, but there’s no harm in that. The first page you come to has links to my 6 memorials by clicking on that phrase in the upper right quadrant.)

My memorials are for public service clarification & differentiation (disambiguation) purposes.

I have added 6 memorials to Find A Grave (joined six months ago with this purpose, finally did it this week, alas, without photos). Of necessity for clarification, the bio-sketches run longer than I’d like (but I have benefited by a few lengthy ones I’ve found by others in the past, & the website allows the length so I hope it will pass muster):

For convenience, I’ve listed these in sets of couples (the first four entries are for disambiguation purposes, separating a massive mis-merge!):

* Find A Grave Memorial# 166553946: Younger Herndon (1785 – 1859)

* Find A Grave Memorial# 166714909: Sarah Ann possibly Wilson Herndon (1801 – 1860)

* Find A Grave Memorial# 166677991: Philip Herndon ([ca.] 1805 – 1848)

* Find A Grave Memorial# 166715088: Sarah Hitchcock Herndon (1807 – 1851)

* Find A Grave Memorial# 166738704: (PVT) Benjamin Herndon ([ca.] 1760 – 1814)

* Find A Grave Memorial# 166825324: Ann Newton Herndon ([ca.] 1763 – 1831)

ALERT: Immediately after posting those FindAGrave entries, having emailed FindAGrave editor asking for oversight & arbitration of the difficulty in separating an inaccurate mis-merged “fake” composite family on their website and to make a policy concerning mismerged individuals (two-in-ones) & couples (four-in-twos), having supplied all documentation, and after originally posting this blog, I received a very disturbing reply.

I am speaking of my 3x Great-grandparents: one man & one woman, who are represented by an earlier FindAGrave patron (the current memorial manager is not the memorial creator), but erroneously merged two men & two women & their two sets of children into one. I was unsuccessful in convincing the current manager that the memorials were completely inaccurate, wrong dates (day & month of birth belonging to an uncle), wrong spouse (belonging to a separate man, the other half of the mis-merge), some wrong children who belong to the other half of the mis-merged couple, and needed a complete overhaul for correction, that in fact she had only one authentic individual person, the spouse being a mis-merge of two men, none of the dates correct, and the children attributed to them were a complete mix-up between the two couples. Evidently the current memorial manager’s interest is in quantity of feathers in the hat & not accuracy of the memorial. She doesn’t know the true wife of the half of the man she wants to keep, and isn’t releasing any portion of the four-way mis-merge when she is only representing two of four people (only one really, because her other is a fake which does not exist).

In making FindAGrave aware, I was greatly disappointed to find that the “curator” (don’t know if there’s only one or if that is what they call all their customer service editors) who replied to me was only interested in first-rights of the current manager regardless of inaccuracy and asked that I take down my “duplicates.” In response, I immediately removed Sarah Hitchcock Herndon [Corrected] (as Sarah Hitchcock is the only authentic person of her two memorials) and that Sarah’s true spouse Philip Herndon (half of the mis-merge).

Problem is, although the current memorial manager offered to remove the erroneous names, she hasn’t, and has ceased communication, not answering my last two emails, AND she wants to retain the identity of my ancestor Younger Herndon (retaining the erroneous name Philip), taking over my unique entry for Sarah Ann possibly Wilson (who was previously unknown to her), without releasing the other half of the mis-merged set (the Philip portion & his wife Sarah Hitchcock).

Although I supplied links to 3 volumes of 733+ pages of documentation separating the two couples & families, it appears neither the memorial manager, nor FindAGrave editor/curator are interested enough to do more than barely skim my letter. I sent a follow-up letter to FindAGrave editor/curator, requesting escalation of the problem to FindAGrave policy-makers, and can only hope that since it was bought-out by, they will make policy-changes to ensure accuracy of the memorials.

As it’s going, since the current memorial manager has ceased communication, & FindAGrave wants me to merely work through her, which I’ve freely offered to both to do, my hands are tied, and the accuracy of my ancestors hang in the balance, hostages to the whims of an unwilling memorial manager (whether due to mere ignorance or willful disregard for truth)!

As you can see by this, just because memorials & family linkages are on a massive database (even FindAGrave) are adopted into an official county cemetery book (as these mis-merges of my ancestors were in 2008), you cannot take these undocumented postings as fact, you must treat them as mere clues which must be verified. It is crucial that you do your own research, no matter how long published, copied into online trees, mass-copied, and mass-proliferated & mass-disseminated, because the sheer volume of mass-copied material does not equal consensus or truth! If not doing your own verification & fact-checking from original documents, you only perpetuate myth, and you often are buying a lie, a falsehood, which creates the genealogical brick walls which is why you cannot find these non-existent “fakes” in the documents.

So the question is, how much are you willing to do to establish what is true, to separate fact from fiction? Do you want to perpetuate a fairytale without basis in documentation, or do you want to find your true ancestor? It’s up to you! If you don’t want truth, you may as well write fiction as to post names to erect a family tree which isn’t real.

This is a formidable uphill battle against the tidal wave of erroneously hypothesized, then widely-corresponded, incrementally adopted & posted, then mass-copied, & integrated into online trees, now canonized & published as proven fact in an official 2008 county cemetery book & on FindAGrave, when there is zero documentation in original records to back it up. All because a respected somebody said it might be so (that the given name Younger might have been used in the sense of Junior and maybe he was connected to a Philip Herndon & therefore maybe his name was Philip Younger, meaning Philip Junior), and tragically that genealogist died while he was still working through it, having made many cross-outs & over-writes in his original notes which few have access to and many do not take the time to avail themselves of, yet he was misquoted, and the mis-merge of two men’s names began, being rumored for decades on the internet back-and-forth across the nation without the foundation of dates, and a monstrous error emerged, two men conflated into one, (probably father & son or uncle & nephew), their two wives both named Sarah confused as one, and the children of both couples mixed into one—which has been posted, published, touted and integrated so many ways, people aren’t open to investigating the truth—because the story’s been told wrong too long, it’s taken on a life of it’s own, overshadowing our true ancestors—and totally erasing the other half of the couple, denying their very existence!

So the question facing us is: how do you establish truth to people who have “bought” the fiction, the falsehood, hook-line-and-sinker? Despite my three decades of research on that line, my nearly seven years intensively spent on connecting them & their parents & children, with my nine whole months spent exclusively on separating the mis-merger by supportive documents, I’m finding people not willing to even look in detail. What must be done? First they have to be educated to care. This is my attempt to turn the tide and aim people in the right direction.

Now my six FindAGrave Memorials have been reduced to four (due to obedience & conformity, not consensus or agreement). Depending on FindAGrave (and the curator who replied to me, as well as the current memorial manager), my two remaining unique ones for the mis-merged couple may be at risk; perhaps all of them if FindAGrave decides to erase all my contributions (as I’ve read they’ve done to others).

This well illustrates why it’s been so important to me that a Disambiguation Central (as I originally called it) or Disambiguation Station (which I changed to for rhyming & memory & recognition purposes) or Family Tree Fixer (which I’m working on) be established for the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) correction of online family trees, because I am absolutely certain, I’m not the only genealogist facing this problem of erroneous fictional brick-wall-catalyst info being published and adhered to in place of the truth of my authentic ancestors. Heaven help us is my prayer & my call to you for action. May we unite in using genealogical proof standards and principles of educated correlation & deduction to “reveal facts not stated in any one record” (as taught by Thomas W. Jones, of Board for Certification of Genealogists).

Citation: By researcher, Rose H. Bonnell, 15 Jul 2016 & 15 Aug 2016.
Provenance & Permissions: This blog post is the Intellectual Property of Rose Herndon Bonnell (
com/212) permission is granted for use when quoted in full, with proper attribution & citations.

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