Profile Accuracy Theme of the Week: Family Legend

+25 votes

This week's theme: Family Legend.

To participate, simply:

  1. Choose a profile that fits this week's theme.
  2. Review and improve the accuracy of the profile.
  3. Reply with an answer below to let us know which profile you chose.

Also see: Photo Sharing Theme of the Week: Sunday Best.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.8m points)
edited by Eowyn Walker
Today's family-legend profile is that of Theodore Ceruti, my great grandfather.

A "family legend" section in his profile has been added to tell the story and why any basis in fact has not been discovered. According to the legend, the Ceruti family from the Bahamas descended from the Ceruti family of violin makers in Cremona, Italy. No evidence supports this legend and an alternate explanation is given on the profile for how the legend got started. This is not the first family legend to have been debunked and it is not the last.
Marion, Thank you for posting this. I was wondering how to include a family legend and still maintain accuracy. Yours is an excellent model to follow. You have done so much work!
Thank you, Joyce, for your vote of confidence. I hope that others will find this format useful. Then they can just "tell it like it is" - State what is fact and what is fiction, etc. Even I believed this family legend because I did not know any better. I was convinced that it is false because of the absence of any mention of my great grandfather in the violinists' genealogy. There were other instrument makers named "Ceruti" with one "r" and one "t" but they did not make famous violins, just student varieties and lutes. This is interesting history but not romantic enough for Ceruti men.
If I could only give a "thumbs up" for your tale.  Nice job Marion!
Thank you Kathy.

That is not the only family legend that has been debunked. Usually, I have assumed that these stories are true until I find support for an alternate hypothesis or until I find source information that indicates that the legend is most likely false. If a legend is false, sometimes it does not take much to debunk it. However, sometimes it is very hard to decide if a family story is true or false when no information is available. Take for example the Stillwell armorial bearings.

A rendering that fits the same blazon for these armorial bearings was used for years on the stationary and literature of the Annual Stillwell Family Reunions in New York City.

No one knew at that time that our Stillwell line not only were not descendants of the original armigers, but also had no demonstrable connection with the original armigers via a common ancestor. These fact were discovered initially using online searches and also corroborated with a report from the College of Arms in London. And yet the wrong assumption persisted for over 50 years before the advent of the internet.

I went ahead and finished out the last 4 ancestor shares I needed to complete 52 in 52, utilizing the 2021 prompts as suggested.  I posted on the G2G about completing, and I'm just following up about getting that badge.  Thanks for your time.  Have a wonderful week!


34 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer

After spending a couple of days exploring my family legends and my husband's, I could find neither supporting nor debunking evidence within the limited time I had this week.  So, I decide to adopt an orphaned profile, who was only a legend for her family, not famous, not scandalous but who had immigrated to the United States and married and had children here.  The only information on her profile was "marriage certificate", a marriage date, and what turned out to be an incorrect death date and place.  Her name was Mary Zyllka Stafin.  Mary immigrated to the United States from Poland right after the turn of the century (1902-1905).  She married Karol Stafin in Chicago (a marriage certificate was found) at the end of 1906.  Together Mary and Karol had 8 children from what I could find.  Six of those children already had profiles that were orphaned and I added the other two.  All the children and Karol now have sources although they could all use better biographies.  I followed Mary and Karol from Chicago to Wisconsin and back to Chicago.  In Wisconsin they were a farming family and where Karol got his citizenship.  Genealogically defined?  Unfortunately no.  But I did find a death certificate for Mary and Karol and his citizenship source.  

by Kathy Zipperer G2G6 Pilot (360k points)
selected by Jennifer Gonnuscio
+19 votes
I would like to select Lucas-9916 as the profile for the Accuracy of the week challenge. He is an ancestor of my mother.

He was born in 1789 in Görike in Westprignitz, Brandenburg, as son of a miller. He attended elementary school for only a few years and also learned the trade of a miller.

However, he wanted to become a teacher from an early age. An almost unthinkable career at that time.
Through a mentor, however, he managed to train as a teacher by working tirelessly.
After several stations as a subordinate teacher, he became a teacher and organist in Burg near Magdeburg in 1834.

Therefore, I want to give his profile the honor it deserves.
by Dieter Lewerenz G2G Astronaut (1.6m points)
+20 votes

Carl Spencer Dahl

Our family legend: This is my great uncle Carl who's profile was incomplete and contained a fairly significant inaccuracy on my part and also within the primary source I had used for his birth year. Carl died at Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States in the early morning attack December 7th, 1941. Originally, I mistakenly recorded he was aboard the destroyer the U.S.S. Arizona blush when in fact it was the U.S.S. Virginia. Naval records were reviewed more thoroughly which triggered my correction. We're from Arizona so my thinking had obviously been rushed when I built his profile. His birth year was trickier: Official naval records show his birth at 23 May 1921 which, by this reckoning, made him 20 1/2 years old at the time of his death. Carl had enlisted 7 December 1939, exactly two years before the Pearl Harbor attack (and the next error I describe also involves 2 years which goes to show how superstitious beliefs start).  But; family lore said he enlisted at age 16 and the 1930 U.S. Census backed them up showing his age to be about 6 in 1930 placing his birth year at 1924 (he was b. 23 May 1923 making him actually 5 1/2 yrs old). Again, the Naval records show his birth as 23 May, 1921. To break apart the log-jam now clogging my mind I looked up his obituary in the web site (and clipped it for future family use) and found the obit written by my great-grandfather, Carl's father, 10 days after the Pearl Harbor attack where he states Carl lied about his age saying he was 18 years old when in fact he joined the Navy at age 16. Mental log-jam broken and reconciliation complete. It's my very sincere hope that Carl had a terrific adventure during that last two years of his life. America didn't think it would be entering the war which could be viewed as a blessing for that time he had left. 

edit: typo correction. 

by Leigh Anne Dear G2G6 Mach 7 (72.2k points)
edited by Leigh Anne Dear
+18 votes

Jacob Boy 

Jacob was a soldier in the American Revolutionary War being originally drafted after settling in Loudon County, Virginia. He served in various campaigns in both North and South Carolina. There is no mention of his being at the Battle of King's Mountain in pension applications, however, we do know he served under Col. Campbell who was at King's Mountain. 

The family legend is that he took a "Redcoat" off of a British soldier (or a local Tory) at King's Mountain. We do know that he did possess the coat and I have spoken with older cousins that actually wore it for Halloween. Unfortunately, the family that had the coat donated it to a local history museum and in the 1970's I was told the museum had lost the coat.   

Many men from the Sullivan County, Tennessee area were of course with the Overmountain Men at King's Mountain, including some of my other ancestors. I presume he heard about the area from them and after the war he moved his family to a beautiful spot on the Holston River in Bluff City where his descendants still live on portions of his farm.

by Emily Holmberg G2G6 Pilot (116k points)
+18 votes

I have often heard family stories and legends about a Portuguese ancestor on my mother's side, which is correct; my 4th-great-grandfather Antonio was from the Azores. 

I will be working on the profile of Antonio's eldest son, my 3rd-great-grandfather John, as the sourcing on his profile is currently quite limited.

by Anonymous Anonymous G2G6 Mach 2 (25.6k points)
+18 votes

Virginia Elizabeth "Jennie" Hill Parker

I knew her as Aunt Jennie; she was my husband's great grand aunt. Aunt Jennie was the family historian for my husband's maternal family, and she loved to talk about family history. She had a family legend that she told about her fourth great grandfather Gabriel Maupin (1666-1720). She told us how when Gabriel was aboard the Nassau from England to Virginia, and the ship sprung a leak. Fearing that they would all drown, they ask Gabriel to lead them in prayer. They prayed, and when they arrived in the York River an investigation was made. It was discovered that a huge fish was found securely wedged in the broken planks, stopping the flow of water through the hull. This story has been verified and recorded in the Bodleian Library in England and the Virginia Historical Library in Virginia, so I am leaving it on her profile as told. 

I do want to do more work on her profile, as she was a dear lady that was truly interested in genealogy, and I know she would love WikiTree.

by Alexis Nelson G2G6 Pilot (468k points)
+16 votes
I'm going to improve the profile of Nathaniel Perley. He was a privateer and was supposed to have been captured during the War of 1812 (but I think it was earlier). Years ago, before I understood the magic of sources, I read that the British captain chose to force him to do menial labor after his capture and that did not sit too well. Apparently, it was the code to just lock up the Captain of a captured ship and treat him as a guest/prisoner. His crew, on the other hand, would be forced to labor on the ship. Captain Perley took exception to the orders and spit in the British officer's face and was immediately shot. He left behind a young, pregnant widow and about 5 children.
by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (560k points)
That's quite a tale, Lucy. Thank you for sharing it. Privateering ind piracy were dangerous buisnesses. Do you know where the capture took place? I would like to know if it happened anywhere in the Bahamas.
+13 votes
This week I am working on [[Preston-7434|Jessie Fidelia (Preston) Ziegler (1868-1955)]]. My grandmother always told lots of stories about how her own grandmother ran the family, was so strong, etc, and I don't think she realized as she told those stories just how alike they were.
by Kate Eovino G2G2 (2.5k points)
+13 votes

I am working on:

Lavinia (Walker) Watkins

She is a family legend because she had the gumption to leave Ireland and most of her family behind to emigrate to Canada as a teenager. She had the grit and determination to homestead and raise a family in the rugged Canadian Rockies but was also known for her storytelling and sense of humor. 

I have added a couple of details and searched a couple of additional resources but so far no breakthroughs. 

by Peggy Watkins G2G6 Pilot (305k points)
+9 votes

Following my personal theme, I used the Bio Check app to select another orphaned profile born in 1869. This week I updated the profile for Catherine Lyon who seemed to fit the theme of family legend, as the only source on her profile was "family album".

by Kay Knight G2G6 Pilot (436k points)
+10 votes

I'm reviewing and updating the profiles for Absalom Davis and Priscilla Williams. There have been several stories passed down the line about this couple. They left Delaware in a covered wagon and migrated to a farm in Indiana, where they raised their family. They are my 3rd-great grandparents. 

I've pretty much harvested what I could find for them, but will be cleaning up citations and updating research notes.

by Joyce Rivette G2G6 Pilot (120k points)
edited by Joyce Rivette
+12 votes

Three generations ago, the family story was that we were related to President John Adams and President Lincoln.  

We knew the connection to Adams. My grandfather's name is in the genealogy "Henry Adams of Braintree.". We were cousins through another son of Henry.  But my gf's grandfather was named John Quincy Adams.  I have already explained to two generations of school children in my Adams family that we are not descended from John Quincy Adams, the president.  Ours was a farmer in Vermont. 

The one I wanted to improve today was the Lincoln line.  My grandfather's first wife was a Lincoln.  Her children, my uncles and aunt, were told in their youth that they were related to, but not descended from Abraham Lincoln.  Interestingly, that generation was close enough to the end of the Civil War that they actually knew Robert Todd Lincoln, and some of my dad's half brothers caddied for him at the golf club in Manchester VT.  He didn't tip well.  

They just thought since their mother's name was Lincoln, they must be related.  They knew the Lincolns weren't originally from Vermont.  

I have connected the line from their mother, http://[[Lincoln-3192|Flora (Lincoln) Adams (1876-1920)]] to Thomas Lincoln, "the miller", the immigrant to Taunton.  Too bad, the one Lincoln's father descended from was the other one, Thomas Lincoln, the weaver.

So that dispels that myth.  But I am of the opinion that Lincoln's father was actually Abraham Enloe, and Thomas Lincoln was his stepfather.  Not that any of this matters anymore.  There are no descendants of Abraham Lincoln left to test the dna.

by Carolyn Adams G2G6 Mach 7 (78.4k points)
edited by Carolyn Adams
There may not be descendants of Lincoln with which to prove Lincoln's paternal line with DNA, but the Bostic Lincoln center is campaigning to get someone other than them to get a sample from Lincoln's tomb to test to compare to an Enlow descendant.  They are not trying to pay for it themselves, as they are afraid their involvement would taint the perception of the validity of whatever the results are.  They have a petition at the museum my family and I signed more than a few years ago-- I don't remember who they addressed it to.
That is fascinating news.  I hope it happens.  I have long believed Lincoln's understanding of the enslaved people stemmed not only from his love of humanity, but his understanding of the poverty and subservience in which his beloved mother lived.
This is an interesting answer. I'm wondering if your John Quincy Adams was named for the president? There's a connection between people with the same name, even if they're not related. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston offers free admission to anyone named Isabella.
By the time my gggf was named, in the early 19th c.  it was commonplace to name children after famous people. I have an ancestor Lorenzo Dow Jepson from the same era.   There are hundreds of people named after Lorenzo Dow, a charismatic minister of the time.
+8 votes
My grandma and her sisters' cooking were the stuff of legends:
by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (481k points)
+10 votes
I improved the profile of Llewelyn Wyn Griffith, brother in law to my great aunt Hilda. Improving his profile included searching old newspapers, WW1 historical websites and military documents to fill out his story

He was both a writer and a soldier. He served at the Somme where his younger brother Watcyn was killed, as an officer he blamed himself for his brother's death.

He was awarded O.B.E.(Order of the British Empire), the French Croix de Guerre and had three mentions in dispatches.

His book 'Up to Mametz' is one of the classic World War 1 novels.
by M Ross G2G6 Pilot (240k points)
+10 votes

Alexander Campbell Howe is the justification for the continuation of the family legend that we were full Scottish on my father's side. It had been legend from that side of the family without a lot of factual evidence. Lacking any real evidence, my father seized on the "campbell" name in this ancestor (one that my father actually shared) to decide a particular clan affiliation and tartan.
by Saphyre Rogers-Berry G2G6 Mach 2 (24.9k points)
+8 votes

When I started attempting to put together the branches in my family tree, I set down with my dad to gather what information he had been told, or knew first hand.  When sorting out my Papa's parents, he told me that there was a "legend" or story... that Papa's mother, Clara, was somehow related to a president of the United States: President John Tyler.

I thought this was super cool!  I think I worked out the potential connection, but I'll have to dig back into that at some point to verify all the connections. 

by C. Verworn G2G6 Mach 2 (29.0k points)
+8 votes
I am going to work on Williams-39706, my ggf who according to family legend was a Cornish smuggler as well as a fisherman, also his wife Hichins-1 who may or may not be related to Robert Hichins, quartermaster at the wheel of the Titanic. I don't expect to prove either of these rumours but the profiles will be a bit tidier!
by Gillian Loake G2G6 Mach 5 (50.4k points)
+8 votes
This legend is not about someone in my own family, but about the person for whom she is named. . .

I was surprised when I found my great-grandmother's birth record. She had always used the name Melanie, but her birth name was Rose de Lima Melanie. Why, I wondered, was a French Canadian child named for a saint born in Peru?

Now I was curious about the saint for whom my ancestor was named. In Wikipedia, I found facts (she was born in Lima in 1586; she was noted both for her asceticism and for her charitable works) and legend (at the time of her death, roses fell from the sky.) To support her work with the poor, she grew and sold roses and other flowers, and made and sold fine embroidery and lace. She is the patron saint of embroiderers and of gardeners.

What a fine name for a new baby daughter! My great-grandmother was not the only little girl in Quebec named for this saint; a quick count showed me more than 20 of them on Wikitree.

Saint Rose de Lima (birth name Isabel Flores de Oliva) doesn't seem to have a profile on Wikitree, and I am not qualified to create one, but perhaps someone else could do so. She deserves one.
by Joyce Vander Bogart G2G6 Pilot (124k points)
+8 votes

This is a profile I improved this week by adding a source, adding the Revolutionary War badge, the details of his Patriotic service, and other details.

I’m sure one of his descendants has a family legend of their ancestor fighting in the Revolution.  Well, now they’ll know.

by Jared Crayk G2G6 Mach 1 (15.6k points)
+7 votes

I am selecting my husband's grandfather, Charles Vermont Hawkins, for this week's Family Legend challenge. As far as I know, his story is true.

According to family legend, Charles was born at least 6 weeks premature, in the midst of an especially cold Indiana winter.  He was so very, very tiny, and no one thought he was going to survive. But in the meanwhile, they lined a shoe box with fabric, laid the baby in the box, and put the shoe box in the warming oven of the caste-iron stove (they didn't have access to a hospital with an incubator back then). In the morning when they checked on him, they were very surprised to find he was still alive!

Unfortunately, his mother died within a couple weeks from birthing complications, but Charles grew up to be a "hale and hearty" man.

by Charlene Hawkins G2G6 Mach 1 (12.6k points)

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