I’ve been doing my family history for quite a while and I was always excited to share what I’d found with other family members. As you know, if you’ve done this for a while, there are some in your family that when you start talking about the family their eyes will glaze over and you realize that you’ve lost them. Unless you can tell them that great grandpa was an axe murderer they really don’t want to know.
One of the people I always enjoyed sharing my research with was my Uncle Ken, from my dad’s side. I call him that because there is an Uncle Ken for my mom’s side as well. Uncle Ken Thompson was a family story-teller and self-professed family historian for as long as I can remember. Imagine my surprise when one time after I’d been doing my family history for several months he told me; “You’ve got it wrong”. He went on to say; “I’ve heard you say several times that Nana Oliver came from a family of nine children, but there were only two”. He said this because his perception of the family was what he knew. He had only ever known that his grandmother had a sister; Jessie. So in his mind there were only the two of them. My perception was from the interview I’d had with my great-grandmother when I was about 17 years old. At that time I’d asking her how many siblings she had and what their names were. She then listed eight brothers and eight sisters. Thankfully I’d kept my notes all those 20+ years.
If I hadn’t known this information I may have done my research on that same premise. At first glance it might have looked like there were only two because the family was born over a long period of time and most of the children had moved from home when the last two were born so they didn’t show in the census. So over the next several months I purchased some of the birth certificates as well as my great grandmother’s parents marriage certificate so that I could prove to him that I wasn’t wrong.
It goes to show you that it’s important to interview everyone that you can because each person knows something different about the family and if you don’t interview everyone you just might just think the family had two children rather than nine.