How Good Is Your Memory?

We often think our own memory of genealogical records or discoveries we have made is infallible. It is not.

In an attempt to put my grandson to sleep, I told him the “Pig Story.” It is a modified version of my teenaged ancestor’s discovery of his father’s murdered hogs in Kentucky in the 1810s. The parts about the hog being killed in the woods, the trail of blood in the snow, and the remaining body parts were omitted. The story I told was a cuter, shorter, child appropriate version that concentrated on the young boy’s discovery of the stolen hogs, their being kept in a barn, and the notches in their ears.

The notch part was true.

I went back to the original court records and discovered my memory of the court case testimony (which I have read several times) was off. There were details I had wrong and pieces of the story I had forgotten. It won’t change the story I tell my grandson because that one needs to be a shorter-kid-friendly one.

But it reminded me that memories are not as good as we think and before I write anything from my “memory” of what I read, I need to go back and read it one more time.

That’s especially true if I “restart” my research on this family using what I remember from the records. I could waste a fair amount of time otherwise.

Take a look at what is on my genealogy bookshelf.