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Oral Family History

As a genealogist, oral history or the stories the family shares with you is a treasure. I find I often can’t get enough!

However, every good genealogist knows that family history or stories orally past down are like a good game of operator (or telephone). As it passes from person to person & generation to generation, things tend to get a little embellished, taken out of context, & misunderstood. So taking a oral family history as fact alone would be detrimental to your hard document proven research.

NEVER dismiss these stories! Often facts are lurking in the shadows of fun adjectives & misaligned information.

IF you have no real starting point, family histories & stories (legends in some cases) are a perfect place to start. They help guide your research with those little hidden facts.

Since I’m starting from “ground zero” again & focusing on only one family for this year, getting all I could in regards to the oral history of Frank & Clara was my first step. Thus, the other day I asked my hubby’s aunt to clarify, as much as she could for me, the oral history that’s been passed down on Frank Herbert & Clara Marie (Nuahause) Lee. I had gotten all of it in bits & pieces, but I still hadn’t grasped the whole story…if there was one.

I asked his aunt because we’ve both share a passion for genealogy, she’s holds a perspective from this side of the family, & she’s been so helpful in helping to collaborate on this line as she’s also been actively researching.

The story goes like this:

“Frank Lee was born in Pryor Creek OK in 1900.Clara Marie was born 1882 in Chicago When Clara died when he was 3. So she would have died in 1903. Clara we think is buried in Chicago Ill. Frank was given to relatives to raise and the father leaves. Frank Lee his father was born in Milwaukee WI in 1875. Do not know what he did for a living. Or how it is that he ended up on Pryor Creek OK. Clara’s parents ran some kind of printing machine. Not sure if it was a newspaper or just a printing business.”

Collected from my husband’s fathers hand written tree: “Frank Lee – Cherokee &  Nayhouse – German”.

OOPS! German? Well there you go… first mistake! It isn’t “Irish” but “German”. I had been listening to stories of my hubby & brother-in-law saying they were always told “Irish”. Hmm… now do you see how this gets funny with “oral histories”? I misunderstood or made a error in how I linked information already! :(

As you can clearly see, I am really short on the “story” side of this tree. I am really going to have to do some research & studying!



About Genesis 1:29

I am just one woman trying to praise God, raise a family, and help others. If I help anyone, if I reach anyone through Him, then I have fulfilled my purpose.

One response »

  1. “We were always told Irish, with some German and Indian. But I think Daddy used to say the Irish was on his Mom’s side. Killarney & Tipperary. Take the urband legend and run, girl.” – Frank

    In the South I have found that EVERYONE is Irish & Native American. LOL! However, there is a lot of truth in that too :)


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