by Delia

Some of my favorite "personal research" stories are the ones related to me by my maternal aunt when I first became interested in actually doing family history, one concerning a murder and one concerning some well-known people in the history of the Kentucky county from which we hailed. She would recount these stories over and over to impress upon me how important our family had been, but she'd never let me see the family Bible in which some of these people were listed. As I continued to expand my research skills, I wanted to learn more, and I began investigating these accounts, armed only with the fact she wished to impart to me to start. I began with the murder. The tale was that both husband and wife were murdered in a remote, unidentified area of the state in the mid-1840s, leaving behind their two small sons to be raised by the husband's parents. Some facts matched, but I could find no account of a double murder. I searched newspapers for several years, seeking some account. I examined court records in counties I thought might be likely, and sought guardianship records, all to no avail. At some point, after a number of years of research, my mother visited her older sister, and was able to make a photocopy of the Bible record for which I had been asking. As I examined the family record Mother had delivered into my hot, little hands, I realized that the supposed-murder-victim-wife actually died several days after her second son was born (probably of childbed fever) and her husband, the other supposed-murder-victim, died almost a year later. While this was not definitive proof that a murder did not occur, the facts do not match with the tale my aunt held dear. She was not happy with me.

A couple of years later, I was looking into the prominent family to whom she claimed a connection. Yes, the names of our ancestor Mary, her father Samuel and her uncle William all matched, as I compared, the prominent family's dates were about a decade ahead of our Mary, Samuel and William. Other facts confirmed: Our family had not established the county seat. Again, I was a true disappointment to my aunt.

Over the years, I popped another few of her cherished bubbles. I'd like to say that before she died, she thanked me for providing the true story of our family, but she didn't. However, these events did establish how I view the family stories that are related to me by our customers. They may be great narratives, but until they can be proved, they are just tall tales.