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Is It Fake News?

Have you ever heard anything that sounded too good to be true? Have you ever believed something to only find out that Snopes.com says it is false? I know I have — both in my Facebook timeline and in my genealogy.

Thus, when I saw that there were parents for my ancestor, James Crawford on Family Search, I so wanted to jump up and down with joy. Not only are the parents identified, but so are the siblings.


This is fantastic news! However, the skeptic in me asked, “Is this really true or is it just ‘Fake News’?”¬†

Thus, I started looking for the sources behind the relationship. The only source attached that supported the parent-child relationship was a christening record for James Crawford found in Scotland, Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950.


Scotland Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950 was used as the source for each of the children of Hew and Isobell (Muir) Crawford. I don’t doubt that Hugh and Isobell had a son named James Crawford who was christened in 1768. But is the James Crawford in this source, my James Crawford.

When seeing this source, my first thought was that I have no evidence that my James Crawford was born in Scotland. Unfortunately, I don’t have direct evidence saying he wasn’t born in Scotland.

According to the 1850 census, my ancestor was 78 years old and born in Virginia. My ancestor, James Crawford, married Sally Duggins in 1799 in Garrard County, Kentucky. These two sources along with the history of other Crawford families in Lincoln, Madison and Garrard counties Kentucky prior to 1800 are the basis of my theory that my ancestor was born in Virginia and not in Scotland.

I also wondered whether there was DNA evidence to support Hugh Crawford as the father of James Crawford. Fortunately, I am managing some yDNA in the Crawford Family DNA Project. I didn’t remember any close matches who had a Hugh Crawford line. When I checked our ‘group’, I didn’t find any Hugh Crawfords in the group.


My Crawford line has been placed in the R1b-01B Ardmillan group. Most of the Hugh Crawford lines are in the R1b-13a Dal Riata group. Thus, the Crawford ‘experts’ don’t believe my line is closely related to a Hugh Crawford line.

My list of yDNA matches does include someone whose line goes back to a Hugh Crawford. However, our genetic distance is EIGHT at 111 markers.

At this point, I don’t believe the DNA evidence supports Hugh Crawford as the father of James Crawford.

Since Family Search contains a revision history, I followed the revisions and identified two researchers who seem to support Hugh Crawford as the father of James Crawford. I messaged each of them to see if they could shed further light on the family. I also messaged two descendants of James Crawford that have been researching the family longer than I have. I received a response from one of the ‘Hugh Crawford’ camp stating that the attached sources (i.e. the Christening record) were the support for Hugh Crawford being the father of James Crawford.

With the Christening record being the only support, I decided to evaluate that information against what I already knew about James Crawford (see James Crawford in my Ancestry tree for details). I have 1772 as the birth year for James Crawford. My source for that information is his tombstone found in the Eaton cemetery, Preble County, Ohio. Since the 1850 census indicates that James Crawford was 78 years old, this census record supports a birth year of 1772.

At this time, my conclusion is that James Crawford was born in 1772. Thus, he could not have been christened in 1768 in Scotland. Based on my conclusion, I changed his birthdate back to the 1772 date and removed the Scotland Baptism record from his list of sources.

Without the Scottish baptism record, there isn’t any evidence that Hugh (or Hew) Crawford is the father of James Crawford of Preble County, Ohio. Since one of the other descendants is more knowledgeable of how to edit relationships on Family Search, I’m going to let her attack the parentage issue.

Thus, I am considering the news that Hugh Crawford is the father of James Crawford of Preble County, Ohio to be Fake News. Unfortunately, that means I am still looking for the parents of James Crawford.


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