The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
I have written a number of times about the problems of accuracy in various online databases. This "problem" is not limited to any one database; it seems common in all of the web sites that contain genealogy information contributed by the general public.
On almost any online genealogy database that contains information contributed from the general public, you can find claimed births of white children in Massachusetts or Virginia in the 1500s or in Kansas in the 1700s. These are only the more obvious errors, the ones that really "jump out" at you. Unfortunately, there are thousands more fictitious entries that look as if they are plausible but are not backed up by source citations or any facts. The sad part is that some people actually believe this stuff and insert it into their own genealogy databases, then pass it on to others. The misinformation replicates itself time and again.
In recent months I am told that the quantity of such junk has actually increased. You can find online pedigrees back to Adam and Eve, ones that link Winston Churchill and Saddam Hussein, and many, many others with just plain made-up information.
For a quick example, go to http://www.familysearch.org and conduct a search for John Allen, born 1600 (plus or minus 20 years) in Massachusetts. You will find many such entries. One on the list shows a man of that name born in 1589 in Gloucester, Essex County, Massachusetts. One problem: only Indians inhabited that area in those days, according to every reputable history book. Spend a few more minutes looking for other impossibilities, and I bet you will find them.
I don't mean to pick on FamilySearch.org; it simply is an example that everyone can see easily. In fact, all of the other online genealogy databases that contain information contributed by the general public contain similar fairy tales. The bogus data may not be for something in the 1500s; it could as easily be for the 1890s and still be equally wrong
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