James L. Gore of Lake Park, GA
(This article originally appeared in The Gore Family Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 2, April-June 1993. This is the original work of James L. Gore and copyrighted by The Gore Family Newsletter, 1993-1996. If you wish to use any story in your own personal history publication, please contact Jim at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have all heard them. Some of us have even repeated them to others not realizing what we were saying. So just what is a granny story? In family history circles it is a story about an ancestor that has been handed down from generation to generation that by the time it reaches us today it contains only a modicum of truth and a lot of error, some of which is to the point of absurdity. There is generally no malicious intent in the embellishment of these stories by those who hear them and pass them on. Unfortunately, many of these stories are believed by novice researchers which have caused them nothing but grief in their efforts to find the truth about their ancestors. This is particularly true when these stories are handed down by those in the immediate family. After all, would one's father or mother intensionally lie to their child about their forebearers? No, I do not think that they would do this if they knew it to be a lie, unless, of course, they were devoid of moral values. I believe that most of us who pass these stories along do so with the best intent, our only fault being that we did not attempt to verify them before doing so.
The stories that follow have been collected during my fifteen years of Gore research. I have tried to the best of my ability to identify the source, point out why the story cannot be true, and then present the true version where possible. My purpose is not to expose the perpetrator but rather to expose the granny story. An awareness of the existence of these stories and the proper attitude that one should have toward them should be helpful to the researcher who is separating the wheat from the chaff in his or her genealogical pursuit.
The following seventeen stories pertain to the Gore family. In some of my other family lines there are similar stories. I suppose every family has an alleged Indian somewhere in their lineage. In my Wiley and Swinney lines there were supposed to be two. My 3rd great grandparents James Wiley and Anna Swinney both allegedly had mothers who were full-blooded Shawnees. Both yarns were easily disproven. A Monroe cousin of mine claims direct descendancy from President James Monroe even though he had only two daughters who married and did not carry on the Monroe name. My own grandfather allegedly had several thousand dollars in gold nuggets that he brought from the Klondike, yet he died owning money. And how many people have you met who told you that they were descended from George Washington who did not have any children of his own?
As mentioned earlier the stories in this article are not designed to expose any individuals as bearers of tales but rather to bring the tale itself to light by examining it under the microscope of official records, censuses and valid history. Some of the stories do carry a certain amount of humor but I cannot help but wonder if Henry Gore and others of his line would shake their tombstones if they knew the wild stories that have been told about them.