A number of researchers I know have pooled their resources via e-mail to discuss and update information about their ancestors in Grainger County. Ancestoral names primarily include Coffee/y, Dalton, Wolfe, Shockley, Rucker, and Hayes. Other surnames are discussed as they arise. Photographs are also shared!
My purpose in participating is to add and update information in the Edward Coffey/Ann Powell descendants report that I maintain at the Coffey Cousins' Clearinghouse website.
The problem with such a list is that it tends to grow. For me, I find it increasingly difficult to remain concentrated on each participant, and the information they provide. The information sometimes becomes extremely confusing as lines cross. Of course, it remains clear in the mind of the person submitting it because they are intimately familiar with the data. But, for others it tends to blur after awhile.
But, the information exchange is extremely important, and I like the format. If you have ever participated in the various Coffee/Coffey forums on Genealogy.com or Ancestry.com, you have no doubt noticed that just about the time you find an interesting post, the participants switch to private e-mail (or, they change and fail to update their e-mail address), and you never see any more of their information. By setting up your own informal mailing list, and keeping it limited to 10-15 people interested in the same family lines, a lot of information can be exchanged in a short period of time.
I find myself having to do more than just concentrate on what information is being exchanged. One of the first things I do is jump to the census record to verify children, ages, birth places, etc., hoping to at least provide future researchers with some confidence that the information is accurate as I know it.
Not all of the information that has been, or ever will be posted to the Coffey Cousins' website will be completely accurate. I post what is sent to me by others with the disclaimer that I have not personally documented the information, and it is not guaranteed to be accurate. For the most part, sources are provided. Users of the data are encouraged to complete their own research, and contact the source - if a person with contact information has been listed. Naturally, I would like to receive any updated information so changes on the Coffey Cousins' website can be corrected.
I guess what I am attempting to do with the Edward and Ann Powell document, is to start a public discussion, the goal being to update the information with the most accurate data available at the time. I would also like to do the same thing with the Peter Coffey family. It appears however, that Edward left more descendants who research, and share information, than Peter did.
What I would eventually like to do is start an on-line discussion, available to everyone, with defined "categories." That will require more thought! If any readers have suggestions please contact me.