Family Clues, part 1
All those family stories that either aren’t true or just don’t make sense?
Make sure you give plenty of credence and time to each one…even an obviously false one may have some bits of truth to it.
Three examples from my own family legends.
#1: “My grandfather rode for the Pony Express.”
I was doubtful of this from the beginning. As thrilling as it sounded, I knew from research that the Pony Express itself only lasted a short time (about 18 months). After a bit more research, I found that the actual years the Pony Express ran were 1860 to 1861. The man in question (my grandmother’s grandfather) would have been only three years old at the time it ended. Interestingly, after I carefully explained all this to my grandmother and presented her with the facts, she still maintained he had been a Pony Express rider! She had heard this story herself and repeated it for so many years, she could not accept the truth.
I did learn that her grandfather had done quite a bit of riding and scouting in Arizona, Mexico, Nevada, and Oregon. In fact, an eye-witness account of an Indian attack on the town of Pendleton, Oregon credits her grandfather for having “saved the town” by riding in ahead of the Indians and warning the townspeople of the impending attack. Though lives were lost, many believed her grandfather had single-handed prevented many others from sure death. Now, isn’t that an even better story?!
#2: “My great-grandfather’s name was Lige.” “My grandfather’s name was Jab.” “I was born in Indiola, Kansas.”
All of these statements are technically correct.
But it took me some time in researching to determine that while he may have been called Lige, his legal name was Elijah. Likewise, Jab’s name was actually Richard Jabez.
In the third instance, my ancestor had left Indianola, Kansas when she was 18 months old, and traveled by wagon-train to Oregon.
No wonder she didn’t recall the name of the town accurately…which naturally led to at least 4 more generations repeating incorrect information!
#3 I will tackle in my next blog: Family Clues, part 2.