GENEALOGISTS ARE ANCESTRALLY CHALLENGED!
( Background music: Mission Impossible)
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to trace your family tree back to Adam & Eve. And because you will be required to hang out in wierd places such as dusty courthouse vaults & remote country cemeteries, should you be caught or captured your family will disavow any knowledge of you & your peculiar actions.
I went searching for an ancestor. I cannot find him still.
He moved around from place to place and did not leave a will.
He married where a courthouse burned. He mended all his fences.
He avoided any man who came to take the US census.
He always kept his luggage packed, this man who had no fame.
And every 20 years or so, this rascal changed his name.
His parents came from Europe. They could be on some list
of passengers to the USA, but somehow they got missed.
And no one else anywhere is searching for this man
So, I play geneasolitaire to find him if I can.
I'm told he's buried in a plot, with tombstone he was blessed
but the weather took engraving and some vandal took the rest,
He died before the county clerks decided to keep records,
No family bible has emerged in spite of all my efforts.
To top it off this ancestor, who caused me many groans.
Just to give me one more pain, betrothed a girl named JONES.
Sent to me by Mac Elliott in Texas - Thanks Mac!!
* * * *
YOU KNOW YOU ARE ADDICTED WHEN:
.....you brake for libraries
.....you get locked in a library overnight & never even notice
.....you hyperventilate at the sight of an old cemetery
.....you'd rather browse in a cemetery than in a shopping mall
.....you think every home should have a microfilm reader
.....you would rather read census schedules than a good book
.....you know every town clerk in your state by name
.....the town clerks lock the doors when they see you coming
.....you are more interested in what happened in 1697 than 1997
.....you can pinpoint Lancashire on a map of England but can't locate Topeka, Kansas
.....all your correspondence begins, "Dear Cousin,"
.....you have traced every one of your ancestral lines back to Adam & Eve, have it
fully documented, & still don't want to quit!!!!
GENEALOGIST'S DISEASE WARNING: This condition is contagious!
SYMPTOMS: Continual complaint as to need for names, dates and places. Patient has a blank expression, sometimes deaf to spouse. Has no taste for work of any kind except feverishly looking through records at libraries and Record Offices. Has compulsion to write letters. Swears at mailman when he doesn't leave mail. Frequents strange places such as cemeteries, ruins & remote, desolate country areas. Makes secret night calls, mumbles to self. Has strange faraway look in eyes.
TREATMENT: Medication is useless. Disease is not fatal, but gets progressively worse. Patient should attend Family History Workshops, subscribe to Genealogical magazines & be given a quiet corner of the house where he, or she, can be alone. The usual nature of this disease is - the sicker the patient gets, the more they enjoy it!
* * *
Q: WHY DO GENEALOGISTS DIE WITH SMILES ON THEIR FACES?
A: 'CAUSE THEY KNOW THEY'RE ABOUT TO GET ONE MORE
DATE ON THEIR PEDIGREE CHART!!
* * *
The quickest way to have a family reunion is to win the lottery!!
* * *
HUMOR ONLY GENEALOGISTS CAN APPRECIATE:
>My family coat of arms ties at the back....is that normal?
>My family tree is a few branches short! All help appreciated
>My ancestors must be in a witness protection program!
>Shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall!
>My hobby is genealogy, I raise dust bunnies as pets.
>How can one ancestor cause so much TROUBLE??
>I looked into my family tree and found out I was a sap..
>I'm not stuck, I'm ancestrally challenged
>I'm searching for myself; Have you seen me ?
>If only people came with pull-down menus and on-line help...
>Isn't genealogy fun? The answer to one problem, leads to two more!
>It's 1999... Do you know where your-Great-G. Grandparents are?
>A family reunion is an effective form of birth control
>A family tree can wither if nobody tends it's roots
>A new cousin a day keeps the boredom away
>After 30 days, unclaimed ancestors will be adopted
>Am I the only person up my tree... sure seems like it
>Any family tree produces some lemons, some nuts and a few bad apples
>Ever find an ancestor HANGING from the family tree?
>FLOOR: The place for storing your priceless genealogy records.
>Gene-Allergy: It's a contagious disease, but I love it
>Genealogists are time unravelers
>Genealogy is like playing hide and seek: They hide... I seek!
>Genealogy: Tracing yourself back to better people
>"Crazy" is a relative term in my family
>A pack rat is hard to live with, but makes a fine ancestor
>I want to find ALL of them! So far I only have a few thousand
>I Should have asked them BEFORE they died!
>I think my ancestors had several "Bad heir" days
>I'm always late. My ancestors arrived on the JUNEflower
>Only a Genealogist regards a step backwards, as progress
>Share your knowledge, it is a way to achieve immortality
>Heredity: Everyone believes in it until their children act like fools!
>It's an unusual family that hath neither a lady of the evening or a thief.
>Many a family tree needs pruning
>Shh! Be very, very quiet.... I'm hunting forebears.
>Snobs talk as if they had begotten their own ancestors!
>That's strange: half my ancestors are WOMEN!
>I'm not sick, I've just got fading genes
>Genealogists live in the past lane
>Cousins marrying cousins: Very tangled roots!
>Cousins marrying cousins: A non-branching family tree
>Alright! Everybody out of the gene pool!
>Always willing to share my ignorance....
>Documentation...The hardest part of genealogy
>Genealogy: Chasing your own tale!
>Genealogy...will I ever find time to mow the lawn again?
>That's the problem with the gene pool: NO Lifeguards
>I researched my family tree... and apparently I don't exist!
SO MANY ANCESTORS...........................SO LITTLE TIME!
Sent to me by Leslie Hamby of Washington County, Missouri. Thanks Leslie!
* * * *
`My ancestors didn't come over on the Mayflower,
but they met the boat.'
* * * *
When white man found this land, Indians were running it.
* No Taxes...
> * No Debt...
> * Plenty Buffalo...
> * Plenty beaver!
> * Women did most of the work.
> * Medicine Man free!
> * Indian men hunted and fished all the time!
> * White man dumb enough to think he could improve system like that.
From: Terry Nixon
You know you're too deep into genealogy when...
> > You're the only person in the bridge/poker
> > club who knows what a Soundex is.
> > You have more pictures of tombstones than of
> > your own kids.
> > "I need to spend just a little more time at
> > the courthouse" means forget the cleaning,
> > washing, dinner, chores; the day is shot.
> > The mailman can't believe that you got this
> > much mail from someone you don't even know.
> > You explain to mother why you can't go 25
> > miles for Sunday dinner, but can go 100
> > miles to check out another cemetery.
> > "As soon as I check out this census record,
> > I'll fix dinner" means "call the local pizza parlor."
> > Your kids think picnics in cemeteries are
> > normal or that EVERYBODY does it.
> > Your neighbors think you are crazy, your
> > friends wonder, and YOU know you are.
> > Some of your best friends live over 200 miles
> > away.
> > You can't drive past a cemetery without
> > wondering if your ancestors are buried there.
> > You have to watch the credits of a movie to
> > see if any of the surnames are ones you are
> > researching.
> > You ask all the people you meet, what their
> > grandparents surnames are.
> > You move to a new town and the first thing
> > you look for is a historical or genealogical
> > society in the area.
> > You go on vacation and beg your hubby to
> > please drive 80 miles out of the way so
> > that you can try and find your granddaddy's
> > grave in 100 degree heat.
> > Youthful fantasies of traveling to exotic
> > places are replaced with plans to get to
> > those little towns with graveyards, or
> > larger towns with Archives!
> > Your fear of snakes and bugs is
> > overshadowed by the need to get
> > through those brambles to that
> > old gravestone.
> > Old friends who knew you before you were
> > into genealogy begin sending clippings
> > about dead or live people with your
> > surnames (and you know you have been
> > talking about genealogy too much!)
> > You worry about the roof's leaking only
> > if the drips threaten your genealogy section.
> > When you can recite all the counties of a
> > State you've researched but where you've
> > never lived.
> > When you find your ancestor's execution by
> > hanging or burning at the stake, far more
> > interesting than the mass-murder that just
> > took place next door.
> > You're not invited to family functions
> > because your relatives are tired of filling
> > out family group sheets.
From: Leslie Hamby - Washington County. Thanks Leslie!!!
* * * * *
What a genealogist's nightmare!!!!!!!
In response to your letter, I am sorry to inform you that grandpa "Fred"
died some time back and the stuff you asked about is not available. The personal
property the family did not want was sold at an estate sale. All those boxes
of junk did not interest a single buyer.
We were able to salvage several binders for the kids homework after we sent
all the paper to the incinerator. The kids really complained about having to
lug all that paper and pictures of those ugly old folks to the Dumpster. An
old family Bible from the 1840's did bring $ 5.00. The one from the 1870's
did not sell.
There also was a bunch of floppy disks that we were able to reformat and
download some games for the kids to play on their new play station. At
least SOMEBODY got some good from the three generations work.
I saw the fellow at a flea market a couple of weeks ago and he said he threw
the Bible in the trash after nobody was interested in it. He said he got an
offer for fifty cents for it, but would rather burn it than give it away. He
seemed to be having a lot of success with some very nice Elvis paintings at
The two aunts you asked about are also dead. They were such a delight and
could talk all day long about the things papa had written about.
I remember them saying something about some records that were copied from
two courthouses that later burned. Neither ever wrote down a single thing.
The letter you referred to was one he typed up and sent to lots of folks who
wrote him. He laughed about them never getting any of his hard work as well
as his Fathers and Grandfather who was in the Civil War. He guarded all the
information carefully to the bitter end.
I wish I could remember some of the things to help you, but I was bored to
tears listening to them talk about the family members who were in the civil
war and those silly pieces of paper he showed so proudly. I vaguely remember
they had some beeswax seals and something to do with the land grants that
were destroyed in the courthouse fires. I wish I could remember the story
about his grandfathers evening with Jefferson Davis when he was on the run.
There are also some very juicy stories that were handed down, but I don't
remember them very well.
Another thing I remember after he got sick was some fellow calling him and
he agreed to let him come down and copy all his material. He told him he would
call him back when he felt better. Papa mentioned something about letting
the society the man was from have all his work since nobody in the family cared
anything about a bunch of people who had been dead for 200 years. Papa died
the next week.
I am so sorry papa and the two generations wasted so much of their life on
such worthless hobbies and hope your family will follow something more
interesting. We enjoy Bingo and bowling very much here in Pleasantville.
I really enjoyed hearing from a long lost cousin and would like to hear back
if you find anything important. The kids need the computer for their games
and I need to watch the "Millionaire" show.
Thank you, Cuz,
From: Leslie Hamby - Washington County, Mo.
"there should be, in every life, a place ...where you could come and visit
your past,and the past of your people, and know whatever happened outside,
here timelessness lives."
From: Cousin Cindy Merx, Washington County, Mo.
YOU KNOW YOU'RE TAKING GENEALOGY TOO SERIOUSLY IF...
You are the only person to show up at the cemetery research party with a shovel.
To put the "final touches" on your genealogical research, you've asked all of your closest relatives to provide DNA samples.
You were instrumental in having "non-genealogical use of the genealogy room copy machine" classified as a federal hate crime.
Your house leans slightly toward the side where your genealogical records are stored.
You decided to take a two-week break from genealogy, and the U.S. Postal Office immediately laid off 1,500 employees.
Out of respect for your best friend's unquestioned reputation for honesty and integrity, you are willing to turn off that noisy surveillance camera while she reviews your 57 genealogical research notebooks in your home. The armed security guard, however, will remain.
You plod merrily along "refining" your recently published family history, blissfully unaware that the number of errata pages now far exceeds the number of pages in your original publication.
During an ice storm and power outage, you ignore the pleas of your shivering spouse and place your last quilt around that 1886 photograph of dear Uncle George.
The most recent document in your "Missing Ancestors" file is a 36- page contract between you and Johnson Billboard Advertising Company.
Ed McMahon, several t.v. cameras and an envelope from Publishers Clearing House arrive at your front door on Super Bowl Sunday, and the first thing you say is, "Are you related to the McMahons of Ohio?"
"A Loving Family" and "Financial Security" have moved up to second and third, respectively, on your list of life's goals, but still lag far behind "Owning My Own Microfilm Reader."
A magical genie appears and agrees to grant your any one wish, and you ask that the 1890 census be restored.
(1) Thou shalt name your male children: James, John, Joseph, Josiah, Abel, Richard, Thomas, William
(2) Thou shalt name your female children: Elizabeth, Mary, Martha, Maria, Sarah, Ida, Virginia, May
(3) Thou shalt leave NO trace of your female children.
(4) Thou shalt, after naming your children from the above lists, call them by strange nicknames such as: Ike, Eli, Polly, Dolly, and Sukey.---making them difficult to trace.
(5) Thou shalt NOT use any middle names on any legal documents or census reports, and only where necessary, you may use only initials on legal documents.
(6) Thou shalt learn to sign all documents illegibly so that your surname can be spelled, or misspelled, in various ways: Hicks , Hix, Hixe, Hucks, Kicks
(7) Thou shalt, after no more then 3 generations, make sure that all family records are lost, misplaced, burned in a fire, or buried so that NO future trace of them can be found.
(8) Thou shalt propagate misleading legends, rumors, vague innuendo regarding your place origination.
(A) you may have come from : England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales....or Iran.
(B) you may have American Indian ancestry of the______tribe.
(C) You may have descended from one of three brothers that came over from_____.
(9) Thou shalt leave NO cemetery records, or headstones with legible names.
(10)Thou shalt leave NO family Bible with records of birth, marriages, or deaths.
(11)Thou shalt ALWAYS flip thy name around. If born James Albert, thou must make all the rest of thy records in the names of Albert, AJ, JA, AL, Bert, Bart, or Alfred.
(12)Thou must also flip thy parent's names when making reference to them, although "Unknown" or a blank line is an acceptable alternative.
(13)Thou shalt name at least 5 generations of males, and dozens of their cousins with identical names in order to totally confuse researchers.
From: Cousin Mac Elliott - Texas
Genealogy of the Future:
A modern mother is explaining to her little girl about pictures in the family photo album. "This is the geneticist with your surrogate mother and here's your sperm donor and your father's clone. This is me holding you when you were just a frozen embryo. The lady with the very troubled look on her face
is your aunt, a genealogist."
From: Leslie Hamby - Washington County, Mo. Thanks Leslie!
The Story Tellers.....
We are the chosen. My feelings are in each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors.
To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve. To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called as it were by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us: Tell our story. So, we do.
In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors you have a wonderful family you would be proud of us?
How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.
It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why do I do the things I do? It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying I can't let this happen.
The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.
It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us.
That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are them and they are us. So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers.
That, is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones.
( Unknown Author )
According to the dictionary genealogy is:
1. A record or account of the descent of a family, group or person
from an ancestor or ancestors; a family tree.
2. Direct descent from a progenitor; lineage or pedigree.
3. The study or investigation of ancestry and family histories.
To me, however, genealogy is a whole lot more than those three dry
sentences. It is finding my roots, my family, and my home.
It is seeing my grandparents as a young couple in a census record
with their two baby girls; children who I know will be dead within the
year. It is seeing my mother as a one-month-old child. It is seeing my
great grandfather's signature on Civil War records and knowing that he and
others like him must have gone through hell.
It is even finding the skeletons in the closets or the black sheep of
It is finding that my family went through some terrible times, but
also knowing that they survived.
It is seeing in my mind's eye the careworn faces of all of those who
have gone on before me.
It is listening to old stories told by our elders and passing those
precious stories down. It is writing down those stories and facts for our
children and their children.
It is finding cousins I had not seen or heard from in fifty years.
It is finding new cousins and new friends, people who have come to mean so
very much to me.
It is the realization of how important family is. It is the
realization of how important it is to honor those ancestors who came before
But most of all, it is the sharing of information with others who
like me love the research. It is not just dusty records or words.
It is not only sharing the excitement of finding a new ancestor, but
also sharing the frustrations of not be-ing able to find what you are
It is the bouncing of ideas back and forth of theories of what might
be and commiserating with another when that theory falls through, which it
often does. It is being able to say "Look! Look what I have found!" and
knowing that your excitement will be shared and understood.
It is being able ask a question on a mailing list, knowing that what
you are asking may be dumb but knowing that you will not be treated with
It is people who give of their time and their energies to help you.
It is people who volunteer their time and energies to do lookups on
the various county web pages. It is people who volunteer their time and
energies for the various historical societies.
It is people who give of their time to transcribe old documents and
microfilm, and who share that knowl-edge, whether it is through books sold
by historical societies or on web pages.
It is people who go through old cemeteries and take the time to write
down those who are buried there and share that knowledge gladly.
It is people who share old photographs, old letters and their old
family stories, not expecting anything back other than a thank you and the
knowledge that they have helped another in their family quest.
It is people who go above and beyond what is asked of them because
they love genealogy. They love the fun of it, the frustrations of it and
the excitement of it.
It is also the knowledge that you are passing down something of
worth; that you are leaving behind a little something of yourself. It is
the knowledge that through all of your research you may have made a
difference, however small it may be.
That is a little of what genealogy means to me.
Genealogist Check List (Rule # 20): FLOOR: The place for storing your priceless genealogy records.
PIONEER -- early American who was lucky enough to find his way out of the woods.
Because of the climate of political correctness now pervading in America, those of us in Arkansas and Missouri will no longer be referred to as "HILLBILLIES" or "REDNECKS." We ask that you now refer to us as OZARK-AMERICANS. Thank you! Now if you'll excuse me, I got possums to fry.
2 March 2001