Kunta Kinte would have been Alex Haley’s g.g.g.g.grandfather, and while his family didn’t keep much alive in tales other than his surname (Kunta was added by Alex) and a couple of African words he spoke and that he lived in 'nnap’lis, that seems absolutely amazing amount for most American families. I’m curious as to in what generation most ancestors pass from oral history altogether.
I know most of the major details and anecdotes of my parents’ lives and through them and other relatives I know more than the essentials of my grandparents’ lives. Since my great-grandmother (who lived 1863-1963) raised my father and I knew her daughters (who lived into their 90s) I know a good bit of her life and a very little bit about her father (a Confederate private), and I know a good bit about the life of my maternal grandfather’s father as he was a locally famous character, and of my maternal grandmother’s father (a town doctor and evil bastard- committed some of his own children to insane asylums as a disciplinary measure). Other than the Confederate private, I only know stories of one set of great-great-grandparents, that because a photo taken on their 60th wedding anniversary (when she was 74, he was 93- their wedding had been a scandal in 1848) and his journal which I have inspired me to ask questions about them when their granddaughter, my grandmother, was still alive. For the rest of my great-great-grandparents (the generation of Civil War adults, born between 1809 and 1845), for most I only know their names through my own research (though I learned an anecdote of an ancestor’s adventures as a deserter from a distant cousin lately, and a story about my g.g.grandmother and a Yankee horsethief which is probably false). About g-g-g-grandparents (the generation in my family that came to Alabama in the 1810s-1830s) there are no tales at all, so the oldest tale in my family can be dated to 1848 and from there it’s very piece-meal til my parents’ lives.
It’s amazing to me how people can live 80-90 years and survive the Civil War and yet be forgotten altogether or all but pure trivia* in just 2 or 3 generations. I’m curious how many generations the family stories survive in other families- if mine is about average or less than or more than. (I’m currently compiling all of the tales that I know so they won’t be totally lost.)
How many generations of stories are there in your family?
*Example: one of my g-g-grandmothers, Amanda, married a man who was almost 50 years her senior in the 1850s, had several children with him, then remarried about 6 months after he died during the height of the Civil War and bore a child [my great-grandfather] to her new husband only 16 months after her first husband’s death, this during the height of the Civil War while she was managing her first husband’s plantation- this woman’s life sounds interesting, and the only thing passed down from her is from her grandson, my grandfather, who was an adult (and a WW1 veteran) by the time she died, and what he passed down is “she still had dark hair as an old woman”.