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Old 07-17-2013, 01:03 PM
Status: "happy again, no longer catless! t...." (set 8 days ago)
Location: Cushing OK
14,423 posts, read 16,695,799 times
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Originally Posted by PA2UK View Post
Well, it is still the best place to start but I do always remind beginners that family stories can be wrong too.
The thing about family is there is more chance of a marriage lisence, birth certificate and death documents being available with additional information. And if you know that then you can at least know you've got the right name.

My take on family tales is sometimes there still is much truth in them, but morphed a bit like with my grandfather being the one burned out. However, her supposed tale was inspiration to me when I sorely needed it and she might not have had that experience, but she had others which made her as strong.

Sometimes you take inspiration where you find it.
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Old 07-17-2013, 01:26 PM
Location: Stuck in NE GA right now
4,585 posts, read 10,482,984 times
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I have the reverse. Growing up (50's and 60's PNW) I was often "mistaken" for NDN and I'd ask and was told NO your "French"...LOL. Even though I just "knew" besides looking in the mirror. After decades of searching by myself and my LDS cousins I had a DNA test done and yup, I am and have a very large % and would be eligible to be a member in about any tribe. Only in the last several months did I find out that my fathers generation KNEW they were NDN, they are now all gone and the one x-wife who heard the info from my father's little sister isn't talking to us any more...sigh.

Keep in mind that NDN's were not considered citizens until 1924 and my gr grand parents must have hid during removal and raised their children NOT to say anything as they were not citizens and had few rights if any living outside the reservation system. They didn't trust the Gov't nor has anyone on that side of the family. They have refused any info. I can't imagine the fear they lived with throughout their lives of being discovered.

Two of the key elements virtually disappear off census records from 1860-1900 and several others from 1830 onward. I'm sure there were name changes in order to hide.

I continue my searching knowing that someone might have a key to help me unravel this mystery. I would love to know my tribal heritage before I go, I'm now 62 and will be 63 soon it's like a hole in the soul.
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Old 07-17-2013, 02:27 PM
Location: Verde Valley AZ
8,275 posts, read 9,109,458 times
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Originally Posted by Tallysmom View Post
Been there, Tracy.... my father in law. Now -- in his defense, his father died when he and his brother were young, and I think the tall tales told might have been stories from his mother to keep dear father alive in the boys memories..

He insisted his grandfather Alex came over with his wife Hannah and came through Ellis Island.

Nope -- when I got to researching (after Pop's death) I found that his grandfather was here during he Ellis Island years. Born in Ohio. And Hannah? Part of pre-revolutionary war line.

The part about being related to President McKinley was true -- he was a first cousin a few removed.

BUT -- there was a kernel of truth. An Alex WAS the first over here. In 1803, he was here and his wife Mary gave birth to a son David in Bedford County PA.

When I get things all nice and cleared up in my tree, I'll start on Hubby's tree again to find the kissing cousins link -- I just have a hunch we're very distantly related.....
My maternal grandmother was good about 'telling tales' about our family history. First she told me they came over on the Mayflower. Well, they didn't, exactly, but they DID come over on one of first ships after that. They had actually left England in the 1300s, went to Holland and stayed there till the 1500s when they finally came to New England. She also tried to tell me that she was related to Judge Roy Bean and that her German MIL had gone to see him in So. AZ when here on a visit. Well, the Judge never set foot in the state so that wasn't true. My grandmother's sister had married a guy with the last name of Bean but he wasn't related either. In fact I'm not sure the Judge's real name was Roy Bean. I'd have to look it up again. I also did some research for that side of the family for my aunt and found some 'interesting' stuff that she hadn't been right about. My grandma was always a bit of a 'snob' so I always took that into account when listening to her stories.

My paternal relatives were better about telling the 'true story' and there's been enough written about them to document it. When I first found out about our Pocahontas/John Rolfe connection I was REALLY skeptical but that did prove out, so.... There WAS one story I kept hearing all my life that turned out to be not true but I never thought it was. Supposedly my maternal grandma had some Indian in her family but, no, she didn't. She was English, Scots/Irish...mostly the latter. No Indian anywhere. I don't know where these stories come from.
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Old 07-17-2013, 10:42 PM
Location: Memphis - home of the king
26,135 posts, read 22,795,314 times
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OP, congrats on knocking down that brick wall.

I've found most of what i've been told to be true with only minor adjustments necessary. I think those are inevitable as people's memories can be honestly faulty or innocently misinformed. But interesting thread. I'll have to come back when it isn't so late and read some more posts. Gute nacht!
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:03 AM
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After re-reading though this thread, it appears to me that there are two separate, but related issues here: family history can be divided into family facts - and family folklore. It's when the two become intertwined and confused with one another that problems begin.

So: If your primary interest is in family facts, then focus on the written record, and rely solely on it for accuracy about who was born where, when, married whoever, had kids, worked in whatever occupation, and so on.

But if your primary interest is in why your family is what it is, and what previous generations were like, and what shaped your common family characteristics, then focus on family stories, particularly those passed along by older relatives. They may be inaccurate - they may be anything but factual - but they may also contain their own "truths" about personalities, family traits, family traditions, and family values. They may lead you astray when it comes to facts and "the begots" - but they can surely shine a light on your own path as well as help explain the past. Not the "factual" past - but the legendary past, whose influence is surely just as strong.
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Old 07-18-2013, 12:59 PM
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Lol. Not my parents but I feel your pain. I have a close relative who converted to mormonism back in the 60s. When she was filling out all of her family tree paperwork in the 70s she created the family tree she wished she had, not the one that actually existed. Since none of the rest of the family was mormon and the internet didn't exist yet she was able to write a substantial work of fiction without anyone noticing something was amiss. And since everyone taps the mormon database for info my fictional family has now propagated into every genealogy site in existence. It makes sites like ancestry utterly useless to me, I'm stuck with working off census records, etc.
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Old 07-18-2013, 01:30 PM
569 posts, read 531,044 times
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Originally Posted by Wmsn4Life View Post
My paternal grandmother does deliberately say, "I don't remember..." when asked about her side of the family. Her only sister died in 1944, and she is the last one. I guess that's better than providing false information, but I'm not sure.

When I asked one of her nieces about it, she mentioned my grandmother's FIRST husband, which was a surprise to my parents and me since we all thought my dad's dad was her first husband.

Nope, she had been a teen bride in her home state and conveniently left that part out since she felt it did not fit in the narrative of her life.

I understand it. I just wish she didn't worry so much about being judged for it. But I completely get why many people want to forget about certain parts of the past.

Census info has alerted me to babies who died young that I never knew existed. I usually ask relatives who might have been around but not directly involved about it since it's not often something the older generations want to bring up.
That sounds like my aunt. She married when she was maybe 18 or 19, divorced him, and then married again. My cousins have no idea. They are all in their 30's and 40's. I suppose it could have to do with the fact they are very serious Mormons. I would probably be very irritated that the entire family kept this secret (I knew about uncle Ned, the 1st husband, as a kid even though I never met him) if I were in their position.
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Old 07-20-2013, 07:05 PM
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Sometimes I think people were just embarrassed that were dirt poor, w/o a pot to pee in. they would make up stories. And they just got passed on.
In ever heard any wrong ones, just lots of mispellings, RIDICULOUS mispellings that really threw me off - from actual relatives and from census.
Of course back then, women would go to great lengths to cover up an unwanted pregnancy. Mostly, the Mom claimed the child to be hers when in fact it was her teenage daughters child.
The worst is when the older relatives just would refuse to talk about it. Again, like they were embarrassed to be dirt poor.... so what? No one cared.
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Old 07-20-2013, 07:09 PM
Location: southern california
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that is a bit harsh but certainly true that family fable is often substituted for family history.
we lie to our kids so they wont go to school and embarrass us.
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Old 07-20-2013, 09:53 PM
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That has happened a lot in my family. Family members telling the same stories they heard, only the person that told them (my great grandmother) changed many important facts and dates. So most her grandkids (my dad and his cousins) all knew the same story, it was just completely wrong. I think she was embarrassed about some family events. Then changed the facts to not cause more embarrassment down the road.

As for the names, many of the names I was given were actually knicknames, their real names were something different. But, many people in the family had no idea that the legal names were different from what they called them everyday. Then we have the real looney tunes in the family that seem to change things just because they can.
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