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Old 12-26-2013, 04:54 PM
 
Location: Jamestown, NY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EnricoV View Post
Parents, grandparents, and we ... hand down stories as we think we heard them. Errors are understandable.

I can't tell you how many years I was certain that the obituary of a x-great grandfather said he died in Jefferson (in 1869). I searched for years to try and figure out why he was there ... when he'd lived, and his son lived, 30-40 miles away. I tried to figure out who he could have been living with. And couldn't. Then one day I reread the obit, which I'd found as a very new genealogist, it didn't say that at all. It did say that the first vote he cast was for Jefferson.

I just got it mixed up ... and that's what happened with our ancestors. They heard something, and repeated what they thought they heard.
When you were in school, did you ever play the "gossip game" where the teacher would whisper a sentence in one kid's ear, and he/she had to whisper it the next kid who then had to whisper it to somebody else until it went all through the class? Inevitably, by the time the "gossip" got through 20 or 25 kids, it was totally different.

That's how oral history works. It's family "gossip" that gets mangled as it's passed down. Somebody tells his/her kids about something that he/she took part in or witnessed, and the kids change the story a bit when they tell their kids because maybe they forgot a key part or they confused a name ... and by the time it gets to the great-grands, it's very different.
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Old 12-26-2013, 06:03 PM
 
Location: Pacific NW
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Absolutely. That's why most "experts" say that while family tradition is really, really unreliable, there's a grain of truth in it. The "story" is about the wrong line, or the wrong generation ... but there's something true about the story. It just gets a little twisted.
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Old 12-26-2013, 08:31 PM
 
11,432 posts, read 19,448,624 times
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I once tried to help someone with her genealogy, and we couldn't make any headway. I couldn't figure it out... but then it dawned on me why she kept saying no...no...no....

I didn't know her stories. Every family has stories. And Enrico -- so right -- even the wrong ones have a grain of truth. Not knowing her stories made it difficult to dig up her past.

That and her names being so darn common. Until you've looked, you can't imagine how hard it is to find the right John Smith in a sea of John Smitheses.
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:58 AM
Status: "Even better than okay" (set 11 days ago)
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
51,292 posts, read 50,539,435 times
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When I was young, I was interested in our ancestors (long before the Internet and the current interest in genealogy.) My mother was going to a wake, and I asked her to get information on where my last-name ancestors had come from in England and when they had come to an elderly great-aunt who was the only living member of my grandfather's family.

My mother came home with notes from Aunt Alice's memory. Our great-great grandfather had come here in 1887 from Manchester, England to Hartford, CT, but there was a stepmother who didn't like her stepson so an uncle from Paterson, NJ, had come and gotten him and that's why we were in Jersey.

Years later, with my sister doing genealogy online with better resources, we found that they came here in 1863 and that they'd left Manchester (the city was correct) because the cotton mills were shutting down due to the Yankee blockade of southern cotton and so they came to Paterson to work in the silk mill. They were never in Connecticut. There was eventually a stepmother, but years later after my great-grandfather's mother died here. Bad info from Aunt Alice.
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Old 12-27-2013, 09:44 AM
 
9,209 posts, read 18,055,111 times
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I posted previously about my mother's insistence that our Whipple line was descended from William Whipple, signer of the Declaration of Independence and Revolutionary War general. In reality General Whipple had no descendants-his one son died in childhood.
My mom just met another woman whose maiden name was Whipple, and her family also always told her they were descended from General William Whipple.

I wonder if every family named Whipple claimed him as an ancestor? I wonder if people read all the signers of the Declaration of Independence and if they see their family name, they decide they are related and then "declare" this to their children.
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Old 12-27-2013, 02:21 PM
 
3,286 posts, read 4,606,040 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CravingMountains View Post
Is there a difference between the two?

Yes. Dutch means coming from the Netherlands. Austrian means coming from Austria. These 2 countries are several hundred miles apart, and speak different (though somewhat related) languages.
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Old 12-27-2013, 02:23 PM
 
Location: Pacific NW
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At least with an unusual name like Whipple, it's more likely to be true. It's the common names that I always marvel at people claiming connections to.
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Old 12-27-2013, 02:54 PM
 
Location: Pacific NW
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowlane3 View Post
Yes. Dutch means coming from the Netherlands. Austrian means coming from Austria. These 2 countries are several hundred miles apart, and speak different (though somewhat related) languages.
But maybe the "Dutch" was as the case with Pennsylvania Dutch, which really was Deutsch, meaning German. Austrians are closer to being German than they are Dutch.
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Old 12-27-2013, 06:24 PM
 
Location: Texas
1,029 posts, read 1,155,933 times
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On one side of my family, I've been stuck by misremembering. My grandfather swore that his grandfather died of consumption in Colorado - that the ancestor had travelled there for a few months to see if he could get better. My uncle told me that he has the ancestor's wallet and the train ticket. I've been unable to find any death notices for the ancestor for years.

Then one day I ran one of my periodic searches on ancestry.com and forgot to fill in a location. Turns out the ancestor died on the train returning to Ohio after a 3-day visit to Colorado. The death certificate was filed in Kansas. I found an obituary in a Kansas newspaper, which gave some additional information about the ancestor and his wife, and I found the records from the funeral home there. Hole filled

On the other side, my grandmother swears that around 1803 one of her ancestors and the woman's young son were kidnapped by an Indian tribe (either that, or the woman ran away to live with an Indian because she didn't like her husband). The story says that three years later, the woman was found and forced to return to the white world (if she was kidnapped, she fell in love) - and brought her one-year-old son (my ancestor) home with her. Pictures of their descendants certainly looked like they had Native American features, and they did live in an area where the white families had a lot of contact with the native tribes. But then I found a Catholic baptism record for that child, registered when he was just a few weeks old, listing the woman and her white husband as parents, and his siblings as godparents. And there was no older child born to the woman according to any documentation I've found.

I think they just liked the story....or it could have something to do with the fact that Alzheimers ran very heavily in this family and the people passing down the stories had already gotten "confused".
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Old 12-27-2013, 09:55 PM
 
Location: Canada
3,676 posts, read 2,485,292 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowlane3 View Post
Yes. Dutch means coming from the Netherlands. Austrian means coming from Austria. These 2 countries are several hundred miles apart, and speak different (though somewhat related) languages.
Not quite. If someone was listed on a census in the 1800's as being born in Austria, it meant they were born somewhere in the Austro Hungarian Empire. They may have been born in what is now present day Austria, but they could just as easily have been born in areas which are now part of Poland, the Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia or Italy.
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