While family stories are notorious for having inaccuracies and outright falsehoods in them, there is usually a grain of truth in there somewhere. The more recently a family line immigrated to America, the more likely the family origin story is to be correct, while the further back in time the immigration happened, the less likely it is to be true. Even so, always verify all family origin stories, even with more recent immigrants. For example, I was always told growing up that my paternal grandfather’s mother came directly to the United States from Germany in the early 20th century. Even my grandfather himself told me his mother came from Germany. However, when I began doing genealogy research, I quickly discovered this was not true. It was my grandfather’s mother’s mother who came here from Germany, and not in the 20th century, but in 1883. So, family origin stories can change even in the space of a generation. In this case, the family actually did come from Germany, but the immigrant ancestor was different than who I was always told it was. It wasn’t my grandfather’s mother, but his maternal grandmother who was from Germany. If you are curious about an ancestor’s origin, listening to any family origin stories about them is a good first step. However, always confirm those stories with records.
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