Jimmy Carter swapped family tales Saturday with 800 of his closest relatives - all descendants of his posse-riding, gun-toting great-great-grandfather.
"I've been inundated with stories," the former president said after shaking hands and posing for photographs at a family reunion in his hometown.The gathering commemorated the 200th anniversary of the birth of his great-great-grandfather, Wiley Carter. The former president had spent the past year tracking down Wiley Carter's direct des-cen-dants.
Carter's search for information on his family revealed some hair-raising details.
As a member of a posse in northern Georgia, Wiley Carter killed a man over a slave.
In the next generation, the former president's great-grandfather was killed in 1873 in a gunfight with a business partner over money from a carousel. And his grandfather died of a shot in the back in 1903 after a fight with a man who stole a table from the family store.
"I'm glad to see that everybody here are good people who don't argue and fight," Carter quipped Saturday.
Carter said he also was able to piece together a family puzzle about Wiley Carter's youngest daughter. "We didn't have any information on her children. Now we know why. She didn't have any," he said.
Most of the people at Saturday's invitation-only gathering had never met Carter, but they still called him "cousin."
"I'm sure there were a lot of times during my presidency when they said they weren't related to me. A lot of them were Republicans, unfortunately," Carter said.
Charles Ernest III told Carter how he had tonsillitis as a child and was nursed back to health by Carter's mother, Lillian.
"I just wanted him to know how much she helped people," said Ernest, of Annapolis, Md.
Eula Shannon recalled how her sister - a lifelong Republican - worked on Carter's 1976 presidential campaign. "He was the only Democrat she would work for," she said.
Members of the extended family wore white T-shirts with the green Carter family crest on the front and, on the back, a family tree with the names of Wiley Carter's 12 children. Name badges explained how they were related.
The reunion gave 10-year-old Jonathan Metz of Huntsville, Ala., a chance to convince fellow schoolmates he was telling the truth about his Carter heritage.
"Now they have to believe me," Metz said after having his picture taken with Carter.