Fortunately, almost every family has traditions and stories. Unfortunately, some of those stories and the basis for some of the traditions, may not have been completely or accurately transmitted from generation to generation. Some of those stories and traditions find there way into published family histories and genealogies. My family has several such traditions and stories. One of them even became a general release commercially made motion picture about my Great-great-greatgrandfather, John Tanner. If you would like to see the movie, you can, it is posted online in two parts.
The movie is very moving and is a wonderful example to the family. But is it historically accurate? I don't want to criticize the movie, I like it too much. But, the point is that popularized and contemporary portrayals of our ancestors might not be exactly accurate. Does that really matter? It does if you are a genealogist and need accurate information to extend your family line.
One of the most common problems I encounter is the origin story. Oh, my ancestors came from Poland or Russia or Germany. The challenge is that the story might be true or not, but often I find that the real place of origin was in part of Germany that was previously Poland or Russia or whatever, depending on the political boundaries of the time. Sometimes people are really surprised to find that their ancestors came from Russia when they had always heard they were from Germany or vice versa.
In the movie, Treasure in Heaven, The John Tanner Story, John is represented by an actor who looks to be in his mid-forties. John Tanner was born in Hopkinton, Washington, Rhode Island on 15 August 1778. The events in the movie take place, beginning in 1830 and continue in Kirtland, Ohio in the 1830s. The Kirtland Temple was dedicated in 1836. OK, so what's the problem. John Tanner was 58 years old, very old for the time, when he lived in Kirtland and by the time he lived in Nauvoo, he was ten years older or in his late 60s. Not faulting the movie, but the point is that traditions are not always transmitted accurately.
Another venerable story from our Morgan ancestors was recently researched by my daughter who found that only portions of the story were accurate. Interestingly, both the John Tanner story and the Morgan story are codified in several books, magazine articles and, like I mentioned, even a commercially made motion picture.
Family stories and traditions are a good place to start your genealogical research, but they are a bad place to stop.