Y, France – Y, France - Atlas Obscura

Y, France

Y, France

This small commune with an even smaller name appears to have an unlikely amount of dead ancestors. 


A simple and obscure commune in the northern part of France, Y is a teeny, tiny place, with a teeny, tiny name.

Its short name is derived from the main street layout, which is basically three roads that are shaped like the letter “Y”. With a population peak in 1866 at a whopping 226 citizens, the town is currently occupied by less than 90 people. The residents of Y call themselves “Upsiloniennes” a slightly more complicated verbiage that comes from the Greek letter Upsilon—which (you guessed it) looks like the letter Y.

Normally a small, weird village like this would go mostly unnoticed, but due to a technical error, Y ended up on the radar of several genealogist enthusiasts in the late 2000s. When tracing their ancient ancestors back to their death sites on a popular ancestry website, all roads seemed to lead to Y—or at least an unusually large amount of them. It appeared that the number of people who allegedly died there was gargantuan compared to the number of people who had ever actually lived there. Ancestry message boards lit up as users questioned how so many ancient relatives from all over the world ended up meeting their makers in the tiny french commune with a letter for a name. It remained a mystery until a clever user noticed that in the drop down menu used to add new ancestors, all of the fields had to be filled in to complete the entry. They deduced that at some point, a less-than-thorough genealogist may not have known the “Place of Death”, but under the duress of having to put something in the field, just added a “Y”.

The user noted that this changed the actual place of death in the listing (and all of the subsequent listings) into “Y, Somme, Picardie, France”. If that went unnoticed before hitting save, tens of thousands of listings could easily been incorrectly altered to list Y as the place of death for all sorts of people who had never stepped foot in France, much less the teeny village.

With “The Secret of Y” answered, users cleaned up their extensive databases, and the tiny town of Y was relieved of its morbid online moniker, “The Place of Death”. 


From Around the Web