Can i remove an imaginary ancestor now that i've adopted 'her'? or give her a False Ancestor template or something?

+14 votes

I think i understand how this particular imaginary lady came into being, and now 'she' is in trees all over the internet, especially Ancestry.  'She' is even here at WikiTree.  She would be my fifth great grandmother if she actually existed.  Instead, my ancestress in that spot on the tree is [[Lewis-7106|Naomi Lewis]].  I'm not really asking to discuss whether i've got that part right or not (although happy to share my evidence if anyone is interested).  I'm trying to figure out the best way to indicate that in spite of so many trees with [[Smith-93044|Elizabeth Smith]] in them, she is actually a result of a misunderstanding.  I see that there is a False Ancestor category and maybe a template?  Which one should i use? How do i use it?  Would it be okay to recount the whole situation on 'her' profile?  

I just saw that 'she' was an orphan and adopted 'her' tonight.



WikiTree profile: Elizabeth Somers
in Policy and Style by Shirlea Smith G2G6 Pilot (127k points)
retagged by Keith Hathaway

Hi Shirlea! Sorry I didn't respond earlier, but the False Ancestor template was still being discussed. It is now {{Disproven Existence}} instead, to better mirror {{Uncertain Existence}}, and is the next step from that Research Note Box. For details, see

It looks to me that you've met the conditions for "upgrading" from {{Uncertain Existence}} to {{Disproven Existence}} - mainly, you added details explaining/supporting the conclusion that Elizabeth Smith did not exist as wife of Andrew Somers & posted to G2G for discussion. With no profile manager, no project, and no objections in the G2G discussion, I think you're good to go. My only suggestion would be to revise the first section to be as clear as the rest. For example, instead of "Elizabeth may never have existed. She might have been written into the family tree as the wife of Andrew Somers by confusion with Elizabeth Smith who married Andrew Steeves." perhaps "There is no evidence that Andrew Somers married a woman named Elizabeth. It appears that many online trees have confused Andrew Somers' wife with the wife of Andrew Steeves (Elizabeth Smith).<ref>For example, [ Ancestry] erroneously has Andrew Somers' wife as Elizabeth Smith.</ref>

Or you could just delete that first paragraph & give the Ancestry link as a "bad example" somewhere else. The "Research Notes" section is very clear (nice work! although inquiring minds want to know the source for wife Amy :).

Cheers, Liz

Thank you!  Will do!
This is a huge issue with with so many newbies not knowing what they are doing and ancestry giving crap hints, people get mixed up, and flaws naratives are made.  It is why I like more then on source, and I like proven sources, not little hints.

1 Answer

+14 votes
Best answer
This is the current approved method of marking these

You will also need to present the proof why you believe this person is fiction. Write it out on her profile. example
by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
selected by Keith Hathaway
Thank you!
It's important to do this rather than trying to make the profile disappear because as you say, it's all over the internet, so other people believe she exists and this is where they will find the truth, especially if it's well documented.

Also note, that only real people have parents, spouses and children.

If the legend that has grown up around her includes mention of children who are real people, they can be named and linked in the narrative, but they should not be linked as children in the data field.  We don't want real people having fake parents!
Thank you!  Very clear and helpful!

If i tick the No Children box for her (after I move my many-times great aunt over to her real mom), will that prevent other WikiTree-ers from adding more children to her?
Not really, because I think others can just as easily untick the box. But leave your name on as a manager, and you'll know in your family activity feed that someone unticked the box.
Thanks! Super helpful! I've started writing some notes on the profile -  will probably have to tidy up later, but at least something is there for discussion if necessary.  I have to look up a few of my sources again--obscure things like the account at the general store and the minutes of the church association, if i remember correctly.  Anyway, its great to have this visible.
There also need to be clarifying notes and links on the profiles of anyone supposedly associated with her but now disconnected  -- children, husband, parents.  People who believe the myth will find her supposed husband's profile and think it's wrong because she's not listed.  So now his bio also needs a subparagraph like ===Fictitious Wife=== naming and linking her and describing why she never existed and isn't his wife.  

Remember the ditty, "oh what tangled webs we weave when first we purpose to deceive"?  One of the most important tasks of genealogy is untangling the web whether the deception was purposeful or not.
In my humble opinion: If you re sure and you sourced all well and this person is not existing why should it be present at WikiTree.

We do not have non existing profiles here. Not even Santa! :D Even I still believe he exists. :D (Joking)

But I understand it could prefend others to readd it again believing internet copies of copies. Well adding profiles without sources is harder these days at WikiTree and I think that is a very good thing.

Otherwise I would suggest to re-use the profile for a family member with a very close or same LNAB name. This way it will not vannish but stay with us just under another first name and different dates.

Astrid, the problem is that if you remove it from WikiTree then other well meaning people who have not done the research will re add it.  So we have a whole set of categories for Fictitious and legendary Genealogy.  There are noted fraudsters like Gustave Anjou in the US whose fabricated genealogies are still employed for documentation.  There has to be a record on WikiTree.

But if all the links to parents, spouses and children are dis-engaged, then the profile will only show up if you're trying to create a duplicate;  it will not show up in any family tree.
Thank you Jack, Yes I considered that. I am sorry but I was not aware at all there was a Project for this as well:) Happy to learn about that.

I was wondering if even it was existing at WikiTree a duplicate (I think it was able to add again in the past) was addable. Right. So it stays with BIG FAT remarks it is a fake/not exisisting person, with evidence that is what this is about right?

Learned something new today! :D

Good work Jake (and your group!)!

Thank you for explaining.



Is mr. Gustaf still alive?
Nope, he died in 1942.

I just re-read the Wikipedia article.  I highly recommend that everyone read it, because it not only sensitizes you when you see Anjou as a source, but it also describes how he committed his frauds -- mixing large amounts of real data, extensively documented, with little bits of fake data, so his work really seems believable until you examine it in detail and comb through it fact by fact.  

The result is the suggestion that anything Gustave Anjou ever wrote about carry the category: Gustave Anjou Fraud, because while the person may be real and most of the facts may be real, you have to be extra careful, confirming everything with other sources he didn't touch, because his work essentially contaminates everything he touched.

Thus, the reason I love G2G and check it everyday. There is always something to learn from here.

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