Family lore can provide good clues for the researcher. Or Not.
Stories that have been handed down for generations have some credibility simply because they’ve been repeated so often; and because the story tellers themselves are convinced of their validity. If your mother or grandmother told it, it must be true.
Unfortunately, they are often simply fantasy – the product of someone’s imagination or misinformation or wishful thinking. Was distant cousin George truly a hero in the Civil War? Or did his mother “pad” his resume? Or did George pad his own resume? Are you actually descended from royalty?
The other side of that coin is lore about some long past scandal. Was that grand uncle really a horse thief, or bigamist? Or was he merely the target of someone’s spite?
Inquiring minds want to know. Were they saints or sinners?
Today’s researchers are lucky to have sophisticated tools to help us find the truth behind the legends. We just have to make certain that we really want to know.