Saturday, March 30, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Genealogy Fools Day Is on Monday

I always associate April Fools' Day with my brother and myself, because my mother told me that she was told her due date for each of us was April 1.  It's one of the few times I can say I'm happy I was late.  But this week, for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy Seaver is asking when we genealogists were fools.

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision. 

1.  April Fools Day is Monday.  When were you a Genealogy Fool?  What wrong, funny, or silly genealogy effort did you make?

2.  Tell us about them in a comment on this post or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.

One of the biggest genealogy mistakes I have ever made, and which lasted an extraordinarily long time, was trusting an index entry without looking for the original record from the beginning.

In the LDS International Genealogical Index (IGI), I found an entry for what appeared to be the marriage of my great-great-grandparents Joel Armstrong and Sarah Deacon Lippincott.  It stated that Sarah's parents were Jesse and Elizabeth Lippincott.

Because I knew that information in the IGI generally came from actual microfilmed records, as opposed to unsourced family trees, I trusted this and added the information to my tree, then researched the people listed as Sarah's parents.  I took the tree back two or three more generations, which was the result of some effort, because you pretty much can't go around New Jersey, and particularly Burlington County, without tripping over lots and lots of Lippincotts.  They're everywhere.

Then FamilySearch added images of church records from New Jersey to its online record collection.

And I discovered that there were actually two different Sarah Lippincotts who married close in time to each other in Burlington County.  Mine did marry Joel Armstrong, but her parents were not Jesse and Elizabeth Lippincott.  They were Abel A. Lippincott and Rachel R. Stackhouse.  Jesse and Elizabeth were the parents of the OTHER Sarah Lippincott.

Somehow the two different marriage entries had been conflated in the IGI.


So I excised a huge amount of my research and started over.  And yes, I absolutely felt like a fool.

On the other hand, at least I was willing to admit I was wrong and start over.

My cousin's husband, who had made the same mistake I had, refused to believe it was a mistake and stuck to his guns, even when I sent him the information about the two different Sarahs' marriages.  (And it's even correct in the IGI now.  Well, somewhat correct.  Now it says that Sarah's parents were Abel A. Armstrong and Rachel R.  At least the given names are right.)

As of the last I heard, he still had Sarah's parents as Jesse and Elizabeth.

You can lead a horse to water . . . .


  1. Lippincott! A genea-buddy of mine in my Anquestors group has Lippincotts in her tree. I'll have to ask her for more info. Yes, Like me, you had to excise a big branch off the tree and, yes, we both admitted we were wrong, which is what is most important.

    1. I will happily communicate with other Lippincott researchers, thank you! And I firmly believe it's better to admit you're wrong than research someone else's tree.

  2. Sounds like my experience with the two Ellis Lancasters in Kentucky, also found in the IGI.

    1. Yours was an IGI problem also? Wow. I used to trust IGI a lot more than I should have apparently.

  3. One of my nieces was born on April 1. When my brother called to report the birth we didn't believe him. Otherwise I don't think it has been a problem for her.

    1. I'm glad it has not been a problem for her. I suspect it might have been more of one for me, with all the moving I did when I was younger and always being the "new kid in school."


All comments on this blog will be previewed by the author to prevent spammers and unkind visitors to the site. The blog is open to everyone, particularly those interested in family history and genealogy.