Tuesday, September 10, 2019

52 Ancestors - MISTAKE: Fake News

Nothing sparks the adrenaline quite like Ancestry’s shaky leaf alerting me to a new find. A picture! And not just any picture – a picture of my 3X great-grandmother, Nancy Elizabeth Frazier. I could not click fast enough, my own fingers shaking like the Ancestry leaf.

Portrait posted on Ancestry
 Wait a minute! Hold the phone! Not so fast!

Are you sure this is little Nancy Elizabeth (1811-1895) with her parents John Frazier (ca 1770-1850) and Lucy Hardin Shiflett (ca 1778-after 1850 )?  Eh, I don’t know. They had lots of children. Where are they? Where is their portrait?

I sent a message to the gal who posted the photo and asked how she came in possession of the portrait and how she knew these were our Frazier ancestors. Her response surprised me. These are not her exact words, but close: “Oh, it’s not them. It’s just some girl with the same name.”

Even though SHE KNOWS these are not her ancestors, she is happy to let everyone think they are. She has even cropped out each person’s face to attach to their individual record on Ancestry. There’s that man’s face on John Frazier’s page, the woman’s face on Lucy’s page, and the little girl’s face on Nancy’s page.

Fifteen people have saved that photo to their family tree. Probably even more without public family trees have saved the photo to their personal database tricked into thinking they know what their ancestors looked like.

When I discover a mistake in a story I have posted on my blog, I correct it. There will be a bold notice of the correction and a link to a new and improved version of the story if I wrote one.

Honest mistakes are one thing. Perpetuating a lie on purpose is deplorable. Fake news!

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. LOL! sometimes you really have to wonder!

  2. Wow, she must not take genealogy seriously if she does this somewhat randomly I'm calling it when she's not verifying facts and photo cropping things out. Take the time to do it accurately or don't take the time to do it at all.


  3. Unbelievable! What is she thinking????

  4. That is shocking - where is the genealogy ethics in such a tactic?

  5. Even though I've posted photos of the clothing worn at the time of an ancestor, with a clear caption under it saying "NOT" that ancestor...the next thing I know someone has posted it on their tree and called it by that person's name. It drives me crazy!

  6. I'm like you, a little skeptical, or maybe wary is a better word, of images posted in public trees. I see purported images of my fourth great-grandparents and wonder if they are really them or not. It's sad when someone so purposefully misleads others, though.

  7. I was all excited to find a photo of a great-uncle, but then realized that there were two Isaac Alonzo Ashlocks, both born in Missouri within a few years of each other but with completely different families. Sadly, the photo went with the other Isaac.