I have family that are upset with me because great-grandpa John Roberts swore his oath of allegiance in November 1864. I have a copy of his O.o.A. and several signatures of his to compare it to. They still feel I made it all up just to make him look bad. John Roberts was always said to have been married to my great-grandmother Laura Chaddick in Louisiana while still being married to Phoebe Robertson back in Mississippi. His name had been smeared since I don't know when, probably before his death in 1903. But with the help of God and Virgil Roberts we found Pheobe Robertson's grave. No easy job ast it is in the Homochitto National Forest near the old home site. Sure enough she died eight years before John Roberts married Laura Chaddick. Further proof was found we ran into the descendents of John Roberts and Pheobe Roberts who live in Georgia. Everybody on this side of his family always thought he had no children with Pheobe.
The lesson is... Sometimes family information is correct but often not. It is in error enough times that all family stories based on something told by a deceased person should be double checked. In my search for John Roberts I have discovered both good and bad things about him. For instance he was perfectly capable of telling, even writing lies. He was also fond of "pulling a cork". But I also found him to be a kind hearted man who despised even chastising a child. And according to the minister who baptized my great-grandmother two years before she died in 1940 he straightened up and tried to live for the Lord in his last weeks of life.
That's what we find when we go off looking for ancestors. Not super heros or super villains. Just people like us. When we accept that idea we are then ready to see them as they were. To quote Bob Dylan...
"... walking contradiction
partly truth, partly fiction"