What is the G2G reputation of Samuel Gordon Smyth's 1909 Genealogy of the Duke-Shepherd-Van Metre Family?

+2 votes
This secondary resource is out of copyright, so freely available for copied stories (with proper citations). Also out of copyright and free is a review of the book that can be accessed directly at



 ISSN = {00426636},
 URL = {http://www.jstor.org/stable/4243099},
 author = {Kate Mason Rowland},
 journal = {The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography},
 number = {4},
 pages = {461-464},
 publisher = {Virginia Historical Society},
 reviewed-author = {Samuel Gordon Smyth},
 volume = {18},
 year = {1910}
in The Tree House by Roger Shepherd G2G3 (3.6k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith

1 Answer

+6 votes
I don't know this book specifically so I will speak generally of these types of sources.

Personally I love these old genealogies. I see them as someone who had a large head start on our work. For dates within about 75 years of publication I have rarely if ever found contradiction, this seems true across many different books and authors. Once they start reaching further into the past is when things get shaky. The 19th century saw it as highly fashionable to have a lineage to european nobility. In truth almost everyone has some such ancestor but these genealogists were not so picky on the details as we are in modern times.

In general most will be correct but there will usually be something somewhere that should be questioned. Look especially close at lines that go towards noble families, and extra close at any connections that are the only link. Real noble lines of the time tended to intersect at least every 4 or 5 generations, false ones almost always seem to come from one "cousin" who got isolated from the rest.

I try to use these books as starting points. It gives me a name to search for, a place where to begin my search, and details to tell one John Smith from another. I avoid using them as my only source if at all possible.
by Greg Shipley G2G6 Mach 6 (69.1k points)

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