3 Genealogy Myths That Have Never Helped Anyone

When it comes to genealogy, there’s no shortage of myths and misconceptions. From the tall tales told by your great uncle to the myths that are so widespread that they almost feel like facts—it’s important to debunk them all.


But you’re probably wondering why. They’re just harmless stories, right? Wrong.


Myths like these need to be busted to ensure that they don’t taint anyone’s family research, including yours. Misconceptions can also lead to wrong branches when you’re finding your family tree, so it’s best to ignore them.


Myth No. 1: Surnames Being Changes at Ellis Island

Truth: This is by far one of the most popular myths you’ll come across on genealogy forums when you start your research. And it’s important to know that this myth is nothing more than misinformation.


The truth is that the list of passengers was prepared at the departure ports—in Europe. So, the officials at Ellis Island couldn’t have changed them. However, it’s believed that many people changed their names on their own before arriving at Ellis Island to make them sound more American.


Myth No. 2: Same Surnames Must Mean We’re Related Because Of ‘The Three Brother Came to America Story’


Truth: People usually have this misconception that having the same surnames means that you’re related. And this is a popular myth because usually, people try to connect their trees to those of celebrities.


And the common explanation is the story of three brothers (with the same surname) who came to America and went off in separate directions to settle across the country. A lot of families in America have a similar version of this story, but it makes no sense.


This is mostly because brothers migrating to America at that time didn’t typically settle so far away from each other. In fact, entire communities preferred sticking together in the new and unknown homeland.


Myth No. 3: The Records You Need Were Burned in The Courthouse Centuries Ago

Truth: This myth has some truth to it, but it’s connected to your research in such a crucial way that it’s best to thread your way through it.


The facts are that, back in the day, floods, fires, and various other natural disasters were incredibly common. Therefore a lot of public and private buildings were damaged from time to time. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all the records supposedly housed in such buildings were completely destroyed.


If you’re told that the records didn’t survive due to a natural disaster, you need to dig further because:


  • Some records may have been reconstructed;
  • Some recorded may have been recovered or were not stored there at all;
  • Or maybe the records you’re looking for are placed in another county, and you’re simply looking in the wrong place due to boundary changes;
  • You can also look for substitutes, for instance, baptismal records instead of a birth register or probate-related notices in local newspapers instead of wills and deeds.



While we’ve busted these myths for you, there are countless others that you may not even recognize. This is why it’s best to have expert DNA research assistance like what we offer to ensure your research is accurate.


Through our genealogy services in Tampa Bay, we can help find biological family roots in no time at all.


Get in touch with us today!