Tyner Genealogy

Common Myths & Misinformation

There is a wealth of information on the internet for those doing genealogical research. The web has made sharing information easier. An unfortunate side-effect of this convenience is that it also becomes easier to pass along bad data. The information about the Tyner family is no exception.

There are quite a few popular Tyner web pages out there which contain compiled information on individuals and their families. However, the website owners do not do their own research or verify the data. They simply and irresponsibly copy and paste it into their site as fact. So when a researcher comes along and finds an ancestor, she or he just copies all the information to their own research and repeats the same mistake the website owner committed! I have also seen this occur on the Tyner mailing lists. The information continues to spread, like a virus. It's even been put into books and manuscripts which are part of genealogical collections in libraries! Sometimes the people compiling and passing along information aren't even related to the specific Tyner branch the information concerns.

I have decided to create a page to address some of these common myths and unproven claims. If you have any questions about the points below or if you have any myths of your own you'd like to have addressed, please feel free to contact me. Also, please feel free to point out if you think I'm wrong or if there is some evidence I don't know about. Email:

Tyner Myth #1: The Tyner and Tynes families are the same.

Truth: They are two distinct families who both happened to settle in the same areas in early America. When records were written, spelling didn't always matter. As long as the name you wrote sounded correct, the spelling was considered correct. That's why Tyners and Tiners are the same family. However, Tyner and Tynes are very different. It's also not very likely that a colonist suddenly woke up one morning and said "I'm going to change the 'r' in my name to an 's' and completely change the way I pronounce it!"

Historians have even made this same mistake for another reason unfortunately. Sometimes when transcribing early records, the 's' and the 'r' start to look alike. So sometimes you will see a person with the last name Tyner and sometimes they will have the last name Tynes. It is just because the transcribers wrote what they saw in the record and as a result, the two families sometimes get confused.

Tyner Myth #2: Nicholas Tyner's birth date.

Truth: This one is one of my favorites. You'll see some places claim that Nicholas was born abt. 1637. Others claim abt. 1650. However, I've never seen any evidence to back up either date! I'd really like to know who came up with these dates. We know the approximate date of his death from his will but we have nothing to even estimate the year of his birth. You'll see below that this becomes a regular problem when it comes to data about Nicholas.

Tyner Myth #3: Nicholas Tyner's origins.

Truth: Like his birth year, we know nothing about where Nicholas came from. Some claim he came to Virginia as an indentured servant. Many claim he came with five children. Again, there is no proof for either claim. We have no immigration records and no record of him being an indentured servant. It doesn't mean that it wasn't the case. But he also could have very well been born in Virginia.

Tyner Myth #4: Nicholas Tyner's wife was Margaret Oliver.

Truth: Same as the two myths above. We really don't know who his wife was. There isn't really any proof that her name was Maragret and we certainly don't have any idea of what her surname was. I do think it's funny that some people claim he came to Virginia with his children and no wife and yet, they will claim to know her name without citing a record in England to back it up.

Tyner Myth #5: The birth dates and birthplaces of Nicholas Tyner's children.

Truth: Let's keep going with the same pattern. We know the names of Nicholas's children from his will and other records. However, there are no records that give us an estimate for the year of their births. We also can't say for sure that they were born in England.

Tyner Myth #6: Dempsey Tyner was a full-blooded Cherokee.

Truth: This one is actually impossible. DNA research shows us that descendants of Dempsey match the descendants of the Sarah Tyner/John Harris Line. We know that John Harris fathered the children of Sarah Tyner and that they had at least two sons, John Harris Tyner and William Tyner. Each of them had sons of their own. However, we can't be sure who Dempsey's father was or how he fits in with this family.

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