I wrote to to you again yesterday, but decided I'd said enough on the subject, and didn't send the follow up. I know family legends are cherished, and people are often reluctant to accept the fact something they've long believed, and may want to continue believing, is untrue.
Family legends get started in myriad ways. A grandmother may tell a young grandson he's acting like a wild Indian, and if there's Indian blood in the family, it must be on his father's side. He later remembers it as his grandmother having said there's Indian bood on his father's side. An elderly woman, knowing her grandmother's maiden name was Washington; they lived in Virginia, and she mentioned a cousin named George, may assume they must have been related to George Washington.
Some lengends are found in numerous families. Most popular are legends of three bothers emmigrating together, someone having married an Indian princess, and an aristocratic ancestor having married for love, and the couple having fled to the colonies to escape parental displeasure. These legends are so common that when when you encounter them, you can almost automatically dismiss them.
To compound the problem, when information is passed down by word of mnouth, people tend to forget details, add details, and confuse one story with another. Within just a generation or two, the story may have become so altered as to bear little, or no, resemblance to what was first said.
In order to accept a legend, we have to assume an unknown person, at an unknown time, for unknown reasons, said exactly this, intending it to be taken in exactly this way, and everyone who's heard it since then, has repeated it in exactly the same way. Obviously so, these are not safe assumtions to make!
In considering a family legend, and we should investigate them, we need to look for documentation which proves the legand, circumstantial evidence which supports it, and/or outside testimony which supports it. In this case, we have the following:
1. The legend appears to be exclusive to the family of Joshua, the youngest of Thomas Sr's sons,
Two of Joshua's older brothers, who knew their father longer and better than Joshua did, Joshua not having been fully grown when their father died, had no knowlege of their father having been born in Ireland. Two of them testified, and this is documented, that he'd been born and raised in this country. According to rules of genealogical research, this constitues proof that he wan't born in Ireland.
2. Circumstantial evidence neither proves, nor disproves, the legend, but such circumstantial evidence as there is, casts doubt on it.
He didn't live among Irish people, didn't give any of his children Irish names, and two of his sons had no idea he was supposedly Irish, and except for Joshua's line, there's nothing to indicate any of his descendents believd he was Irish.
3. As for outside testimony, A grandaughter of Jonathon Jones Culwell, also a grandson of Thomas Culwell Sr., reported the stories of Thomas Sr. being Irish were untrue. If that came from her grandfather, then a cousin of Dock may have disputed his contention, and the facttwo of Doc's uncles denied it, proves not even in Doc's lifetime, were other family members in agreement with him.
This doesn't prove there was no Irish ancestry in the family at all. It's not impossible for example, for Thomas's father to have been Irish, and someone, remembering something they'd heard, to have confused Thomas with his father. On the other hand, someone may have heard Cauldwell is an Irish name, and so assummed Thomas, the earliest known ancestor, must have been Irish. We don't know, and wll probably never know. We have to go with the facts though, and the facts say two of Thomas's sons said, and it's verifiable, that he wasn't born in Ireland. Their testimony, since they knew Thomas Sr. personally, knew him long and well, and had reason to know his birthplace, takes precedence over a legend,
My concern with sharing legends on the internet is that it does no good to warn people they're unproven. People liking the legend will ignore the warning, and report the legend as though fact. Then countless other people, not questioning it, pick it up, and pass it on. If the legend is unproven, or substantially in doubt, reporting it at all is likely to result in other people passing on as fact, something that may be untrue. I think we owe it to our earlier family members to be cautious, and not pass on to strangers, information they may misuse.