Bill Landry talks tales at Sevierville genealogy conference

"A story might live 100 years"
Nov. 02, 2013 @ 11:52 PM

Bill Landry, host of "The Heartland Series," started Friday's portion of the 2013 Sevier County Public Library System Annual Genealogy Conference with his speech "Tying the Stories Granny Told into Research for Family Genealogies."

Landry was quick to admit at the start of the presentation that he is by no means an expert on all things genealogy.

"I know more about stories than genealogy," Landry said.

However, Landry spent the hour focusing on how stories passed down through generations are just as important as any other part of research in genealogy.

"I guess we all have our stories," Landry said. "If we don't tell them, the people in them disappear. That's kinda scary."

Landry amused the crowd at the King Family Library with anecdotes illustrating just what kind of "Stories Granny Told" are important. He made sure to emphasize that, while some of his stories were extravagant, most had at least a little bit of truth at one time.

"Everything I just told you is the truth," Landry said. "You won't believe it, but it's in there."

Landry said he believes that even when a story does not seem to have much truth, it can still be an important way to know the people from a particular area or time. 

"Most good stories have a little wisdom to them," Landry said after recounting a story. The wisdom from the story was, "If you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, at least maybe you can see the tunnel."

Near the end of his speech, Landry said that he used to worry that he would run out of stories to tell on his television show, but that through years of telling stories he came to realize something that erased that worry.

"As long as there's people, there's stories," Landry said. "I don't know what remains when we leave, other than books and houses. But a story might live 100 years."

The genealogy conference continues Saturday in the King Family Library with more guest speakers, including Mike Maples at 10 a.m., Ted Olson at 12:30 p.m. and Smoky Mountain Storytellers at 2:15 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. Single day registration is $20. For complete details on the conference, call the History and Genealogy Center in the library at 865-365-1432.