Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fact-Checking My WJB Clinton Relationship - WRONG!

In my blog post, Ancestry's We're Related Mobile App - My Top Cousin Is ...  (posted 19 October 2016), I noted that the mobile app indicated I was Bill Clinton's 7th cousin twice removed, but that I was leery of Bill Clinton's descendant line from George Soule (1593-1680) of the Mayflower.  

I received several emails today, and had a comment on this blog and on Facebook.  Here they are:

1)  Howard Swain emailed, saying:  "Here is the best online data on Clinton’s ancestry:  For other US political figures, see here:

That is helpful.  The website is by William Adams Reitweisner.  Almost all of the information is from the book by Gary Boyd Roberts, Ancestors of American Presidents, First Authoritative Edition (Santa Clarita, Cal.: Boyer, 1995).   The Reitweisner page says that the father of Simpson Green Ayers (1820-1897) was an Ayers from Ireland, with no further information about the line.  

2)  Heather Wilkinson Rojo commented on the blog post and on Facebook, saying:  "Shame on Ancestry! The Mayflower passengers are among the most researched set of 102 people on the planet. It is very easy to prove a Mayflower lineage within the first five or six generations because of the Silver books project. One peek at the Soule book shows that Elizabeth Soule had only one child, Isaac Walker. Who is this Mary? The only AYERS in this book is a Susannah. Also, the "go to" book for the lineages of American Presidents is by Gary Boyd Roberts "Ancestors of American Presidents" (I have the 2009 edition). There is even a chapter on Presidents with Mayflower links. Clinton is not included. Nor does he even have a single New England ancestor. Someone really dropped the ball on this one!"

Indeed, the Reitweisner page and the Roberts book indicate no known New England ancestry for William Jefferson Blythe Clinton.  The Soule Silver book does not show a daughter, Mary.  I trust these resources more than I trust whatever family tree is using for the We're Related mobile app.

3)  I went into the three "universal" family trees available online to me - the FamilySearch Family Tree (free), WikiTree (free) and ($$) - to search for known relationships.  Only had this descendancy from George Soule to Bill Clinton.  The others did not show the descendancy from George Soule to the Ayers, let alone to Bill Clinton.  

4)  The We're Related mobile app has a question at the bottom of the screen - "does this path look correct to you?"

I tapped on the thumbs down button.  I don't know what will happen to the information on the mobile app now.  Will Bill Clinton disappear from my list of relationships?  I hope so.  

5)  All of this means only that my relationship to Bill Clinton is certainly wrong.  It doesn't mean other person's relationships are wrong, unless they are connecting to George Soule or to the Ayers from Massachusetts and New Jersey.  But they may be wrong.

I've taken Bill off my Christmas Card list.

6)  So the question remains:  What family tree information is using to compare my (and your) Ancestry Member Tree to for the We're Related mobile app?  Were the family trees for famous persons researched by responsible researchers using authoritative sources (like the three mentioned above)?  Or were they taken at random from other Ancestry Member Trees, or the defunct One World Tree database?  

7)  While this mobile app is intended to be fun, and to draw users to create a family tree on, the results should be as accurate as possible.  


Copyright (c) 2016, Randall J. Seaver

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Cousin Russ said...


Since he was in my list as well, I went back to see how you and I might be related.

I also have Blythe, according to the APP, but our nearest common cousin would be WJC himself, As I come down the father ancestry and I think you said the mother.

The best that I can tell, the APP is looking at the AMT that we selected when we signed up. I remember that because it took me a minute to figure out which tree.

BUT, I wonder where else that are making the connections.

I had a bad experience with the "other" Relative Finder, which also showed you and I related in the Blogger List.

If I really wanted to see the connection and did the research to find or confirm that relationship, I think that the Reasonably Exhaustive Research would kick in.

I had a new hit today, with I really like and wouldn't have to work too hard on, Right Time and Place, which I may look at again.

What is also interesting is that one of the BYU / FamilySearch Family Tree showed, that I did make the connection, hasn't showed up yet.

But the question about Where did they pull the Data From is a great question.


Diane Gould Hall said...

One of my biggest pet peeves is leading people who aren't familiar with genealogical research to believe something is true, when in fact, it may not be.
If research were that easy it wouldn't even be fun. Just click and add. No proof, no challenge, no reward.
I'll be deleting that app from my iPad.

Cynthia T said...

As soon as I learned about this app, I decided not to use it. I have proof of my Mayflower ancestor, Richard Warren, and that's good enough for me. I honestly don't get why some people are excited about a possible relationship to the rich and famous.

Cynthia T said...

As soon as I learned about this app, I decided not to use it. I have proof of my Mayflower ancestor, Richard Warren, and that's good enough for me. I honestly don't get why some people are excited about a possible relationship to the rich and famous.

Tanya said...

I too got the Bill Clinton, 8th cousin, 2X removed, WRONG! then Justin Bieber, David Cameron, Eminem and Madonna were the other four, I didn't bother looking at them.
I do have Mayflower passengers and Benjamin Franklin as ancestors on my tree I would have preferred being listed as related to.
I notice the tree on the app only goes back to great grand parents, probably why it doesn't have more ancestors further back.
I think they need to work on this one.