On that topic, in 1860 the retired governor of Massachusetts wrote an extensive chronicle of the early history of my town, of which he was a resident, and I've finally been reading it the last few days. Even in 1860 the town's history goes back nearly 200 years, and he expresses so much frustration that nobody else had done it before him to save the thousands of stories and anectdotes that are now lost forever. It's so full of adventure and /out/ nostalgia it's driving me nuts.
"From the immediate descendants
of a generation which shared in the hardships and
dangers of the Indian and French wars, the boy of fifty years
ago often listened to the tales which the fathers of that
generation had told their children of their trials and sufferings.
Some of the first settlers were alive when the war of
the Revolution broke out, and could have told of the felling
of the first tree by the white man, while the smoke yet rose
from the wigwam in the forest. They could have pointed
out where they had seen the beaver building his dam in the
meadow, and told how the wolf and the bear and the wildcat
had divided with the settler the mastery of the wilderness
in which he reared his lonely log-cabin."