by Abby Glann
One thing that will keep coming up when you run with genealogists of any
sort are sources, like we talked about last time. They are just *that*
important. No matter what the source, be it the 1790 United States
Census confirming your fifth great grandpa's home in Virginia or the
back of the cereal box that told you George Washington's mother's name
was Mary Ball or the parish records from Zbiroh, Bohemia showing your
second great grandmother's birth date, you need to put it in your notes.
That includes family stories.
Family stories can be
great for little clues to big finds. One thing I have loved to do for
years is to take my notebook (or smartphone for you savvy sorts) with me
to visit relatives and take notes about the stories they tell. When
your grandfather starts talking about his grandparents living in Sweden,
their profession, what their trip over on the ship was like, where they
settled, that child who died in infancy, the other one who married the
doctor in that small town in Minnesota, and so on, all of that is great
to use for clues in your search for where your family was at certain
times. Sources tend to lead to other sources, and family stories are
great for that.
One caution with family
stories-they aren't always true! That doesn't mean they won't help,
though. My family had a story about my third great grandfather that had
been in the family for ages and was rather beloved. I was the
unfortunate bearer of bad news as I got further into researching our
heritage. The story was that that grandfather had been a member of the
Scottish navy and had gone AWOL while on leave in Nova Scotia, changing
his name from Saxton to Brown and starting a family there. Well, his
name was always Brown and he immigrated from England, not Scotland, with
his young wife to be a miner and raise a family. No navy. No name
changes. But there was truth there-he did live in Nova Scotia, he was an
immigrant, and his name was Brown. All those correct clues helped me
find the truth and add to my family lines.
matter the story-that you're descended from Thomas Jefferson or that
your great Uncle Jim Bob owned the service station is Sapulpa-they are
sources, and should be put down as such. They make great additions to
your own story, too, giving you an idea of who your ancestors were.
Every member and detail to your story you can add will help get you one
step closer to finding how you're a cousin to all of us.