October 30th, 2011 at 3:45 pm (Articles)
I subscribe to several of the online genealogy sites and blogs. I recently received a great post on About.com. Their writer Kimberly Powell gives great insight to the overwhelming task of researching you family history. I appreciate the work that is put into her postings. I find them very helpful and I always read them.
If you are a busy person and you do not always have time to visit all the genealogy sites. This is one that I feel you will always benefit from.
Here is an excerpt from her site:
Family Legends – Fiction or Fact?
By Kimberly Powell, About.com
Nearly every family has a cherished story or two regarding their distant ancestors – one that has been handed down from generation to generation. While some of these stories probably have a lot of truth in them, others are actually more myth than reality. Perhaps it’s a story that you’re connected to Jesse James or a Cherokee princess, or that a town in the “old country” is named after your ancestors. How can you prove or disprove these family stories?
Write Them Down
Hidden in the embellishments of your family’s story are probably at least a few grains of truth. Ask all of your relatives about the famous legend, and write down everything they tell you – no matter how insignificant it may seem. Compare the different versions, looking for inconsistencies, as they may indicate those parts are less likely to be rooted in fact.
Ask for Backup
Ask your relatives if they know of any items or records which may help document the family story. It doesn’t often happen, but sometimes if the story has been carefully handed down from generation to generation, then other items may have been preserved as well.
Consider the Source
Is the person telling the story someone who was in a position to have experienced the event first-hand? If not, ask them who they got the story from and attempt to work your way back to the original source. Is this relative known as the storyteller in the family? Often “good” storytellers are more likely to embellish a story so as to elicit a favorable response.
Bone Up on History
Spend some time reading about the history of the time, place or person which relates to your family’s story or legend. Background historical knowledge may help you prove or disprove the legend. It’s unlikely that your great, great Grandfather was a Cherokee, for example, if he lived in Michigan in 1850.
Test Your DNA
While your genes may not have all the answers, a DNA test may be able to help you prove or disprove a family legend. DNA can help you determine if you descend from a particular ethnic group, your family came from a particular region, or you share a common ancestor with a particular person.
I find it helpful to bookmark or subscribe to this site. Check it out. I think it will give you new insight.