Saturday, March 26, 2011

Family Folklore

My wife's grandmother, Alice Nawfel, nee Langley, is going to be 83 this November. She's a brilliantly healthy woman that sometimes looks after my daughter so my wife can run errands or go to the gym. Her father was from Canada (English) and her mother was born in Gloucester, MA, and was Portuguese. However, the family story that has been passed down the generations, is that her father, James Edward Langley, came to the United States from Canada like a lot of families at the turn of the Twentieth Century. However, this Langley family story has yet to be confirmed. Alice says that her father came to the United States on a ship from Canada at about 15 years old...dressed as a girl. What would someone gain by crossing the border in drag? Did they not question women as much back then? If he came her at 15, was it a question of age and he thought that being a girl would lead to fewer questions? I haven't a clue. And even though I have likely found their legal and correct border crossing information, the story is priceless. I can only imagine what it would be like growing up thinking that this is how your father entered the country. And this is why I started this blog; to get stories like this on record. I'll find the truth in the documents that are available, but this is family folklore and these stories will live on. And why shouldn't they.


Does anyone else have stories of family folklore that they know is likely wrong, but are still proud of the story nonetheless?

4 comments:

  1. That is an interesting story. Maybe the thought was that as a girl he wouldn't get questioned as much and wouldn't pose a threat to taking another "man's" job. Thank you for sharing!

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  2. How funny! It does paint quite the picture in your head, doesn't it? I wonder if he was found out. :)

    Jennifer
    www.climbingmyfamilytree.com

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  3. Heather - very possible. There has to be some rational in the act if it actually really happened.

    Jennifer - I wonder if the story is a combination of stories. I think he did come to the states around 15-17 (can't think of what the documents I have say) but maybe at another time he dressed as a girl and the stories got combined over the years? It is very funny regardless

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  4. It would be very interesting to find a passenger list and see what name he used!
    Regards,
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

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