7 Ways to Document Family Legends

How I discovered that Davy Crockett was the brother-in-law to my 4x Great-Grandfather
How I discovered that Davy Crockett was the brother-in-law to my 4x Great-Grandfather






Do you have a family legend that you wonder if it is true?  When I began Genealogy that legacy was proving our relationship to Davy Crockett.

Do you want to discover more about this family legend?

How can you solve this mystery?


  1. Look at pictures—I had heard stories about a great-grandfather that lost an arm. In one of the two pictures we have of him, you can see his sleeve hanging proving he lost his arm.
  2. Census Records—these records help to prove ages, who was in the family during that time period and where they lived. If nothing else, this information may get
    With tenacity brick walls can be broken
    With tenacity brick walls can be broken

    you started on your quest.

  3. Newspapers—scroll through the newspapers in the area or check online databases. If the circumstance was newsworthy it would have made the paper.  Many papers covered a lot more news than we do today.  I’ve found information on crops, family visits, transactions in paper entries from the early 20th Century and earlier. Online websites such as Newspapers.com and Chronicling America make searching newspapers much easier.
  4. DNA—these test can provide a number of details to legends of sharing an ancestor and relationships.
  5. Court Records—court, jail, and probate records may provide a lot of information if there was a court case. However, tracking down these records can be difficult at times.  Be sure to check both the local juridiction and the state archives.
  6. Published Genealogies—in my case of finding Davy Crockett, I was able to prove that indeed we were related through a published genealogy.
  7. Oral History—interview family members. Often family members will talk.  Even if the answers are not known in your immediate family, check with the children and grandchildren of your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents children.  They may know more to the story that you can piece together.
  8. Bonus: Research history—research the history of the area or time period to see if the legend was plausible. For instance if you have a legend that 4x great-grandfather died in a Confederate Prison Camp but he lived from 1750-1780 then you know he did not die in a Confederate Prison camp.  Possibly he died as a Revolutionary Solider.  Then you could check the records for the Revolutioanry War.


How do you document your family legend?



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