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The Three Brothers Myth


Three brothers immigrated to America and each went their separate ways. This common family story often trips up people new to family history research, because it almost never turns out to be true.

The Story Goes:

For some reason, the "brothers" story is always about three brothers, not two or four. There never seems to be a sister either. In the most common version of the story, one brother goes North, one South and the third West.

How it Began:

Some people speculate that this myth originally came from the assumptions of lazy genealogists, trying to explain why an unusual surname popped up in several different places about the same time.

Proving or Disproving the Three Brothers Myth:

If you discover a "three brothers" story in your family tree, begin by identifying the three supposed brothers. Once you pinpoint their names and where they lived, good genealogy research will often be able to tell you whether they were actually brothers, or perhaps of some other relationship, such as cousin, uncle or even father. They may also just be three unrelated men with the same last name. Look for their immigration records, to confirm that they actually traveled together - and without any other family members.

In Conclusion:

While the "three brothers" myth is very rarely true, there are documented cases of three brothers immigrating together. Generally at least two of them they stay in the same general location, however. While such a story in your family tree is more likely to be a myth than not, it is always worth checking out with good genealogy research.

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