Days Gone By - stories from the pastGenealogy Information

MONDAY MUSINGS: These genealogy myths that are easy to believe

There are many myths floating around out there in the world of genealogy. Don’t derail your research by becoming a victim to the following myths.


You can find your whole family history online. It looks so simple when advertised on TV by Ancestry.com. A few clicks on the keyboard and you find your family history but genealogy research is a lot more complicated than that. You can find many family trees online but there are also lots of errors in them. To adequately document your family tree, you need to track down the sources of information. Some documents can be obtained online but you often need to visit Libraries, Courthouses, and State Archives.

Genealogy Tree of Lee 1886 (Library of Congress)

Your ancestor came over on the Mayflower or George Washington is your ancestor. Lots of families have these stories and they became embellished over time, so be sure to do your research and validate these claims. Not everyone with the same last name is related. DNA evidence today has disproved many long held traditional family stories about ascendancy. FYI – George Washington did not have children or descendants. However, his wife did from a former marriage.

Your ancestor’s name was changed at Ellis Island. Passenger lists were created at the port of departure and Ellis Island officially checked the names on the list. However, immigrants often changed their own names in an attempt to sound more American.

You can buy your family crest. Actually, families don’t have crests….individuals do. Coats of arms must be granted and you must prove descent through a male line of someone to whom arms were granted.

WHERE DO I START? Hints and Tips for Beginning Genealogists with On-line resources Save time and avoid pitfalls in your research. Where Do I Start? is filled with simple, no-nonsense instructions to set you on the path of your families’ ancestry with the following information:

    • WHERE TO FIND – on-line resources, experienced genealogists will not be aware of many of these.
    • COURT RESEARCH – how to do courthouse research, where to find birth, death, social security records free on-line.
    • EIGHTY – ONE QUESTIONS – you should ask your elderly loved ones before it’s too late.
    • TIPS ON BREAKING DOWN THE WALL – Everyone faces some difficulties in research, often called a ‘brick wall’ but WHERE DO I START? provides suggestions for overcoming them.
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WHERE DO I START? Hints and Tips for Beginning Genealogists with On-line resources


By (author): Donna R Causey
List Price: Price Not Listed
Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me
All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
She has authored numerous genealogy books.
RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE)
is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2)
is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series)
Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1)
is the continuation of the story. .
For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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17 comments

  1. Donna Bridges

    Thanks for your comments about genealogy myths. While I can always learn something from these tv programs, they do make it appear you can snap your fingers and swish, you’ve got your completed family tree. The reality is that it takes quite some time researching, traveling, talking to relatives and new relations, etc. It is not simple. But I enjoy it and hope to continue my search shortly.

    1. Matthew Wester

      I’ve been working for over 20 years on our family tree. I have just now started getting it uploaded to Ancestry.com. Not only to help archive everything but to also to help other family members see all of it online. It is a double edge sword, sometimes you can find it all online, but you have to do the leg work to get it there.

  2. Paula Crites

    What about Ancestry’s DNA test kit, is that a sure fire way of finding out some of your genealogy? Want to know if their DNA kits are worth buying & if their test results are legitimate

    1. Matthew Wester

      I got one for my dad. And we know that his grandmother was half Native American and the test didn’t pick up on that. So I don’t think it’s very accurate but it was fun to see what it said.

      1. a person told me that two sisters took the test and one results was that she had Native American blood and the other sister did not?? Don’t know what company that was but I would not trust them.

      2. That means his great-grandmother was a full-blood. That is not that far back. Wouldn’t she be on a roll somewhere?

        We have the same thing, kinda. Out of West Alabama and east Mississippi.

    2. La Donna Cauley

      My husband and I both had the DNA test. I am satisfied with the results. I also tested negative for Native American — That was a surprise. My cousin explained that Native American and African DNA with phase out quickly especially in women.
      Several of my cousin have also had their DNA test done. It has linked us to some family members that were adopted — or their grandparents were adopted. We have uploaded our DNA to genmatch, a free site that breaks the DNA match by chromosomes. It can become complicated but also rewarding.

    3. George Howell

      A DNA test will show connections to other people who have had DNA tests. If one of those people will give you a family tree with some common ancestors in it (yours and theirs), then that might save you some genealogy research time. Don’t count on that.
      I have done four different kinds of DNA tests. I have not learned much from them, and I get bogged down with people who know a lot about DNA tests, but cannot tell me who our common ancestor is.

    4. Renee Brannon Dailey

      I did Ancestry and unbeknownst to me so did my 2nd cousin. The test identified us as second cousins…so I think it is pretty accurate…..

    5. La Donna Cauley

      George Howell have you used genmatch? We have a large group of family members that work on the DNA research. It’s very complicated but looking at the chromosome matches we have isolated certain one to certain branches of the family.

    6. Janet Nelson Eubanks

      My test has confirmed a number of family lines, so I think it is well worth the price. As far as ancestral origins, such as Native American, some family members may show it and others may not. I tested as 1% Native American, but my two sisters didn’t. This is due to the way in which specific genes are or are not inherited. This is particularly true when the ancestry is far back in time.

  3. True, George Washington did not have any direct descendants, however, he did have siblings who had direct descendants, for example, Charles (founded Charles Town, WV [part of VA until 1863]). So one can be related to George as a niece, nephew or cousin.

    1. that is true. For example I found out my family relative was a third cousin to George Washington.

  4. still plugging away after 30 years. started off with oral stories from my great grandmother who lived to 100 years old. then after the coming of internet access made it a little easy but yes don’t put stock in all who post information on family trees. I found quite a few errors on my family and concerning dna tests I have people tell me good and bad results from them, especially minorities, ie. Native American and African American. Not sure which company is the most accurate( ancestry.com?)
    If you are near a LDS (Latter Day Saints) family center you can get access t o ancestry.com free if you research in their sites. Even then some information I have found on ancestry sites posted by people may be in error. Check and re check information. It is fun to me to search for family connections and where they came from and their status in life.

  5. Charles Moore

    Genealogy- not like McDonald’s as they advertise.

  6. James Verhoff

    “Actually, families don’t have crests….individuals do.”

    Not exactly. Crests were granted to individuals; however, they were (in the Renaissance and later) sold to raise funds for the state. Regardless: the crest was inherited by the oldest male, it’s true. But it’s more complex than that. The crest was also used to indicate family ties–see quartering. It was also used to indicate loyalties–see livery. There was even a German tradition of halving the field, with one half devoted to the individual/family crest and the other devoted to the lord/nation they were fighting for.

    Members of the family could, in justice, wear those arms as a sign of loyalty to the family–as could literally anyone else that the oldest male heir (or whoever was deligated the authority) said could wear them.

    So yes, arms/crests (not the same thing) were granted to individuals. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have one represent a family. That’s literally what they were used for for hundreds of years.

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