How Folklore Helps Find Ancestors

By Jeannette Holland Austin

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Everyone loves a good story. Folklore is interesting because it speaks to certain events and family traditions. We should listen to it, because of its clues pertaining to relatives in foreign lands and the superstitions, arts, and humanism which they embraced. In other words, one might locate the original family seat by observing the practises and skills which were brought with immigrants to America from certain parts of the world. As in the mining of ores such as silver, gold and other minerals. For example, if someone said to me that that the family tree had a coal-miner, my first thought would be to search in West Virginia. If they drew in the 1832 Georgia Gold Land Lottery, I would search the records in Cherokee, Lumpkin and Carroll Counties. The same is true of railroad builders and the dates and places where rails were being laid before and after the Civil War. And so on. In so many respects, the countryside should be remembered for its contribution to civilization and studied to locate more clues as to the origins of the ancestors.