8 Lies About Your Family Tree
Don't fall for these family tree falsehoods! Learn the truth behind eight common genealogy scams and myths.

According to family legend, my ancestor John Howland was the only Pilgrim to fall off the Mayflower. The entertainer Mitch Miller is a distant cousin. And the spelling of my last name was changed from Eisenstadt to Eisenstodt at Ellis Island. All families pass down genealogy stories of their ancestry, some true and some not-so-true. Your job as a genealogist is to separate fact from fiction. We've identified eight common genealogy myths. Avoid these beginner traps, and your research will be smoother sailing.

Myth #1: Your ancestors' names were changed at Ellis Island.

This is the most common family myth, but Ellis Island historians have yet to find a documented case that supports it. Many of our ancestors did change their names as part of the assimilation process; however, this happened after they settled in the United States, not when they first arrived.