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View Full Version : A Cautionary Tale: Genealogy, Paper Trails, and Y-DNA Testing



rms2
10-18-2014, 09:38 PM
Thank God for y-dna testing!

A couple of us recently stumbled across a number of member trees at Ancestry.com that include Obadiah Stevens (b. 1787), the mdka of one of my closest matches (107/111). These pedigrees are extensive and carry the line back to a Thomas Stevens, b. 1592 in Bishops Canning, Wiltshire, England. On geni.com the pedigree picks up again and goes beyond that, to Richard Stephyns, who died in 1519.

Today I contacted a man in this line who is responsible for the better researched parts of it and not for the inclusion of Obadiah in it. I spent an hour and a half on the phone with him discussing it. To make a long story short, I think he is right, and this is a dead end for us. The man belongs to y-haplogroup I-M223 and does not match us (obviously).

I am not going to bother you all with the details of this pedigree, but it's a good thing we have had our y-dna tested and that this man has done so, too. Otherwise we might have latched onto this too-good-to-be-true information and gone down the wrong trail for years, perhaps never departing from it.

Phew! :doh:

rms2
10-18-2014, 09:42 PM
Moral of the story: beware poorly documented member trees at Ancestry.com and elsewhere.

There are some sloppy, lazy people out there, and the wish is often the father of the thought (and the pedigree).

rms2
10-18-2014, 09:48 PM
Note: Can an admin or mod edit the title of this thread to correct the typo in the title? I actually do know how to spell cautionary. Don't know how that bogus n slipped in there.

Thanks!

MitchellSince1893
10-18-2014, 10:09 PM
I have made many family trees using family tree maker, for the sole purpose of trying to figure out how I'm related to other autosomal matches on ftdna, 23andme, and gedmatch. In doing so, I'm at the mercy of others as I build these trees from those on ancestry.com and other sources. These quickly created trees stay on my harddrive so there is no concern of others latching on to them.

Often all I have is a name and an email address . From there I will google their name and email in hopes they are a genealogy hobbiest. You would be surprised at how one can build a tree many generations back based solely on this info, the internet and an ancestry.com account. Now whether the tree is accurate is another story.

What I often find is that these autosomal matches from gedmatch, 23andme, and ftdna, are just too far back to make the connection e.g. in the 1600s or earlier, or there is a genealogical dead end. But every now and then I will hit the jackpot and find a common ancestor.

It's never ending detective work. For those that are interested in such work, I highly recommend using the genomemate tool https://www.genomemate.org/ It is invaluable in organizing dna and genealogical data.

I used to have a tree on ancestry.com but took it down because so much of it was dependent on the work of others, and I was concerned I may be perpetuating bad info.

AJL
10-18-2014, 11:49 PM
Note: Can an admin or mod edit the title of this thread to correct the typo in the title? I actually do know how to spell cautionary. Don't know how that bogus n slipped in there.

Thanks!

Done! Sticky keyboard keys happen...

ilmari
10-19-2014, 08:50 AM
The same scenario played out in my tree, on man claiming my MDK Y DNA contributor. Well, I already knew why he thought he was his ancestor as well, but he hadn't bothered to look at the church records to see that it was well documented that family name continued to his portion of the tree, but only because the shared many great X grandmother was married to both men and had children with both men. As the second man came to live on the dead mans farm and to live in his house and marry his wife, he acquired the same surname / farm name. This was also a 16th Century situation, but my lineage stops going back at about 1500, but the other fellow, N1C1, got back a bit more. Initially, he was angry, but then was happy he had someone catch his mistake. This scenario was the impetus for my finding another direct descendant, and we match 64/67.

rms2
10-19-2014, 09:53 PM
It's funny: before I spoke by phone with the man I mentioned above, I had planned to come on this new surname subforum and blab away about the new discovery and the bright possibilities it presented. Thank God y-dna test results saved me from it!

It really is a good thing, if for no other reason than to eliminate false connections. Better to be brickwalled in North America than to believe in the wrong set of European ancestors.

ilmari
10-19-2014, 10:16 PM
As in my scenario, you could still be related, if you find a 2nd or 3rd marriage in the line.

rms2
10-19-2014, 10:49 PM
It doesn't seem likely. I still think my y-dna line is probably Welsh rather than English. Several of my closest matches have Welsh surnames (Beddoes, Price, and Samuel), and one of the closest of my 111-marker matches (Samuel 105/111) not only has a Welsh surname but can trace his y-dna line to a specific town in Wales. Stevens/Stephens is a Welsh patronymic surname, although it is also common in England and found in Ireland and Scotland, too. It's the Welsh matches that make me think Wales.

GTC
10-19-2014, 11:58 PM
I would hang a large "beware" sign on any tree in Ancestry.com. There's far too much cutting and pasting from one tree to another by people just because they can, and the fiction gets worse as time goes by.

I use the Ancestry site for access to its census and electoral roll type databases. I pretty well ignore the trees on there.

AJL
10-20-2014, 04:04 AM
I would hang a large "beware" sign on any tree in Ancestry.com. There's far too much cutting and pasting from one tree to another by people just because they can, and the fiction gets worse as time goes by.

I think I've mentioned before that the author of one Ancestry tree I saw counted as an ancestor "King Xerxes of Persia, born British Columbia, Canada." Hard to see how someone made that leap.

But then Ancestry has also allowed me to connect with second, third, and fourth cousins I probably wouldn't have spoken with otherwise. Sometimes they have photos or scraps of useful information. One even had a scan of my great-great-grandfather, his brother, and their father in front of the foundry they worked at near Burlington, Ontario, taken around 1875.

MitchellSince1893
10-20-2014, 04:18 AM
I've seen plenty of trees on ancestry.com where the parent(s) was born after their children. And then you see the same parent/child pairs in multiples trees. You would think some one would catch that.

Táltos
10-20-2014, 04:20 AM
I think I've mentioned before that the author of one Ancestry tree I saw counted as an ancestor "King Xerxes of Persia, born British Columbia, Canada." Hard to see how someone made that leap.

But then Ancestry has also allowed me to connect with second, third, and fourth cousins I probably wouldn't have spoken with otherwise. Sometimes they have photos or scraps of useful information. One even had a scan of my great-great-grandfather, his brother, and their father in front of the foundry they worked at near Burlington, Ontario, taken around 1875.
Yes there is good and bad in everything. I've seen Odin listed as an ancestor on there.

Me too, I have found cousins on there that I would not have realized otherwise. Family that was right under my nose and I connected with them for free on their message boards. Such a cool find for you with the picture of your gg-grandfather and family on there. :)

rms2
10-20-2014, 07:59 AM
I agree there is some really good stuff at Ancestry. One just has to be extremely cautious, especially with member trees that are not backed up with source citations that can be checked.

MikeWhalen
10-20-2014, 01:43 PM
I think this is the key point...Ancestry is just 1 tool in the tool belt, like all info, be like a good police detective, rule nothing in and nothing out until you have the facts to do so and go where the solid evidence leads you, whether you like it or not

M



I agree there is some really good stuff at Ancestry. One just has to be extremely cautious, especially with member trees that are not backed up with source citations that can be checked.

Gray Fox
10-20-2014, 04:01 PM
Thank the Lord for DNA testing indeed. My family history on either side is awash with tall tales, false information and flat out lies. I've stopped discussing anything with family members pretty much altogether. Each time I do, the discussion ends up offending someone. All I'm doing is presenting the facts. I try to be as nice as possible when I hear that our Great Grandmother was 100% Native American. Too bad DNA testing completely refutes that.There's a lot of magical thinking on my maternal side. It becomes very frustrating at times. Ignorance truly is bliss, I guess.

rms2
10-20-2014, 06:35 PM
We had one of those Amerindian legends, too. It didn't pan out, at least not in my autosomal dna or mtDNA, which is where it should have shown up, if it was true.