When I was a child, our family went to Aunt Kathy's cottage in Indiana every summer. The cottage was on the shore of Lake Michigan and was the high point of the summer. For the kids it meant swimming and sand every day, all day. For mom and dad it meant work of a different kind. Usually my dad's mother, my grandmother "Bockie", went to the lake with us. At some point, I noticed that Bockie never, ever went down to the beach, much less into the water. When I asked why Bockie never went near the water, I was told that when she was a little girl her brother had drowned and since then she had been terrified of the water.
Later as I began doing genealogy, the story of Bockie's brother came back to me. How to find out if it was true? In documenting the family of Hermann and Eva Burbach, Bockie's parents, I found the birth of John Burback in January 1881 and his death in 1892. He was eleven when he died and Bockie was four when her brother died. Using HeritageQuest Online, I was able to find a diary entry by William Sizer dated May 8, 1892. The entry said only "...Burbach's boy drowned this PM...". In my mind this proves the story.