Verifying family stories handed down for generations can prove challenging

Credit: Special

Credit: Special

Having done genealogy work for 60 years now, on my own family and on many other families, I often reflect on what I have been able to document.

My Columbus family said my great-grandparents met on Valentine’s Day. I could verify that because my great-grandfather came up the Chattahoochee River on a riverboat from Eufaula, Alabama, and newspapers showed the ship arrived close to February 14. My North Carolina family had a story that George W. Hoyle had lost his arm in a threshing accident. I never thought that that would be documentable until I found a newspaper article indicating it happened in 1889.

Other stories are harder to confirm. In my current research project, various sources say that Leonidas A. Jordan (1828-1899) of Macon was the wealthiest man in Georgia in 1868 when he married Julia Hurt Colquitt of Columbus. But how is that provable unless one analyzed the wealth of many others? And how do you do that? Do you still pass on the story, citing the source?

Because there’s much more access to historic newspapers, thanks to digitization projects, more information is available now than ever before. So what is the most unexpected fact you have actually proven in your own research?

Book dealers

If you are looking to enhance the books in your personal genealogy library, you need to be on the mailing lists of several companies. The Southern Historical Press has moved to 1071 Park West Blvd., Greenville, S.C., 29611. It often has warehouse sales so it’s worth being on the mailing list. See The Reprint Company of Spartanburg, S.C., has long published reprints of Southern histories, including many county histories, so to get on its mailing list go to The national leader in genealogy books is the Genealogical Publishing Company of Baltimore at so get on the email list.

Divorce in older times

Centuries ago, a divorce was a big deal and very hard to come by. Until 1832, to get a final divorce in Georgia, you had to petition the state legislature.

Contact Kenneth H. Thomas Jr., P. O. Box 901, Decatur, Ga., 30031 or