Friday, October 14, 2011

Darned Pedigree Resource File

Records say the darnedest things

We depend upon records to reveal the “truth” about our pasts.

Yet sometimes records have anomalies.
Some are amusing or humorous.
Some are interesting or weird.
Some are peculiar or suspicious.
Some are infuriating, even downright laughable.

Yes, Records say the Darnedest Things.”

Records Say the Darnedest Things: Pedigree Resource File

Watch “Monday Mailbox” next, for a letter and question from Barbara. (I’m sure there is only one reader of my newsletter named Barbara.:-) Barbara found an interesting entry in FamilySearch’s Pedigree Resource FIle (PRF). Apparently, someone included an obituary in a person’s notes section, then stuck the wrong information in the record!

Here’s bits of the obits:

March 16, 1888

Henry Farley Byerly was born in North Carolina, February 26, 1809. …In October, 1851, he emigrated to DeWitt county, where he has ever since resided…


Henry F. Byerly died at his home in Kenney the 13th inst., aged 78 years, 8 months and 4 days. The burial took place at the Texas Cemetery the 14th.

According to Barbara, Kenney and Texas Cemetery are in DeWitt county, Illinois.

Here’s the PRF record:

An entry from PRF classic

Lessons learned?

  • Sources are good. Having the text of the obituary was a powerful anecdote [sic] for the error.
  • Compiled trees should be used as finding aids, not sources.

Watch for the full text of Barbara’s letter on Monday. Until then, “records say the darnedest things.”


  1. The same can be said for the Public Trees on Ancestry. Benjamin Franklin Swatman appears in a number of trees born 23 December 1927 with a baptism in Godalming London 8 October 1926.
    (15 months before he is born)

    The correct baptism is 16 January 1928 in Hallow, Worcestershire where his sister Hannah is baptized on 11 April 1824.

  2. Mick,

    Is there a typo in your comment? I've searched and can't find any Swatman born 1826-8 or 1926-8.

    -- The Insider


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