Question: What is the source of all this conflicting and erroneous information about the early Yanceys of America. Where is the primary evidence for much of this info that nobody seems to have sources for?
Some of the answers are discussed below.
Genealogical Research of the late 1800's and early 1900's.
When one begins to analyze how genealogical errors have been passed on from researchers of earlier decades to those of the current generation - one needs to realize that genealogical research was nothing like it is today back in the early years of genealogy (late 1800's early 1900's). Keep in mind that during this period - there were no computers, no Internet, no email, no genealogical databases, no xerox machines, very few large libraries or other sources of large genealogical material, and few people had close access to primary source records (court, census, deeds, etc). People preparing genealogical reports often relied on word of mouth traditions, mingled with the small amount of primary records they had (such as Family Bibles), supplemented by data that was scoured from pages & pages of, often conflicting, handwritten research notes & correspondence. There were few genealogical standards in this early period - documentation and citation are very rare in genealogical reports of this period. Those preparing genealogical reports/charts often mingled documented facts, with theories based on circumstantial evidence, with educated guesses, and even some whims based on virtually no evidence at all - and did it all with no reference to what information fell into what category. Also because of the lack of access to good information - early researchers often "filled in" missing information with educated guesses, suppositions, and gross generalizations - and I think very few of these people ever considered that many us of in this future generation (100 years later) would be taking their collection of family history and taking it for "gospel truth" - when so little of it was based on primary documents. And then the printing process (for those few who had the luxury of being able to publish their work) - with many manual steps, recopying and transcribing the information - often led to errors in the published genealogical record never intended by the author - but again, succeeding readers had no way of differentiating between fact and error.
Published records concerning the Yancey Family of the of this early period, are full of many conflicting and erroneous information especially about the origins of the Yancey family and the first few generation of Yanceys in America. (Keep in mind this was nearly 200 years since the earliest Yanceys of America). Think about it. What would WE have known about our ancestors of more than 200 years back if all we relied on was word of mouth and a very limited amount of primary evidence?
When people of later decades (mid 1900's) began to compile genealogical books concerning the family - again there weren't a whole lot of sources - but the ones that everyone found were the very few that were published in the early 1900's with all the problems discussed above. Errors were passed on from one generation to the next and again, much was not necessarily backed up by primary evidence. What one early researcher considered as a possibility - was often included in later publications, and in current genealogical databases - as if it was fact - when such was never the original intention. Unfortunately we have many "theories", "guesses", "estimations" that have been made at one point in time - that are being recorded in current Yancey databases - with no indication that such info is not documented, and may have simply been someone's guess.
Here is a list of published Yancey reports - in chronological order from earliest to latest.
This list comes in real handy in identifying exactly how specific information has been passed down over the years - and where the source of a specific error lies.
Various conflicting and erroneous Yancey information that should be studied by current genealogists can be found at:
Here is one example of how information has been passed on to current generations with no consideration of real evidence.
Information concerning Charles Yancey of early Virginia and supposed wife Mary Bartlett
Many researchers trace their Yancey line back to a Charles Yancey Sr & Mary Leighton of early Virginia and his son Charles Yancey Jr who almost everyone records as marrying one Mary Bartlett. There is NO PRIMARY evidence to document her name - nor even any significant circumstancial evidence. The source of this information can be traced back to a very early report on the Family: Nanney or Yancey History, by Tempe H Carraway, about 1930. Here is the citation:
"A Charles Yancey died in 1690 in Virginia. I believe this Charles Yancey was one of the original four brothers, who came to America in 1640, or a son of the original Charles Yancey, according to Virginia Wills. . . . From Yancey records, I have this Bartlett history. Thomas Bartlett came to Virginia prior to 1637. Charles Bartlett was born in Bristol Parish, 1734. . . . King James I, King of England, Stuart Line, First Wife or her mother was named Bartlett. If we can find some Bartlett History that comes through this Stuart line . . . Of course the Bartlett name, so strong in the Yancey Family gives us every reason to believe we have a line back of James [son of Charles Jr.] - possibly his mother. I believe his [James'] wife was Ann or Anna Thornton, a direct descendant has a Thornton will. . . ."
Note the lack of any evidence whatsoever - the will records referred to don't exist. and the use of the Bartlett Name is no more common than any other name in the Yancey Family - it just happens to be the name of one of the more famous Yanceys - Bartlett Yancey.
This is a perfect example of how one person back in the early 1900's made a general "off the cuff" statement, with no evidence at all - that virtually EVERY single Yancey researcher since has placed in his genealogical database - many not even questioning the validity. As far as I can tell there is no evidence at all to document the name of the wife of either Charles Yancey Jr or his father - nor even any significant circumstantial evidence.
similar cases exist:
The whole story of the 4 or 5 brothers from Wales coming with Sir William Berkley - is very very questionable.
Another great source of many genealogical errors concerning the early Yanceys - can be found in the book "Lynchburg and It's Neighbors. 1935" By Rosa Faulkner Yancey. Her style of Writing is very colorful and interesting - and I don't think her book was ever meant to be a genealogical book based on solely documented facts. Her daughter also wrote a book - the Vanishing Virginian - It was a story about the family - a movie was even made of it - I have to wonder how much of the book was supplemented with information that was "created" to make the book more enjoyable to the reader - but not necessarily based on fact. I have seen similar cases in various books about early families where evidence is lacking and authors fill in what's missing with inventions from their mind in writing what in some cases was simply a historical novel.
Another source of many errors is the LDS IGI and other databases
see the following site: