Wednesday, March 5, 2008

There's the story, of a man named ......

Every family has at least one story to tell about their ancestors. Fact or fiction, the story has probably changed over time. People have added their interpretations or eliminated unsavory details, not intentionally of course, that is just the way human nature works. There are a few good stories in my family, some wonderful "yarns" and one or two I would love to completely take out of our family history book.
These stories may actually provide a starting place or a time in history for us to research our family history. For instance, as a young child I had heard one pretty unsavory story about a particular great uncle I never knew. After connecting with a distant cousin, my cousin provided me with a newspaper picture of this uncle. I had had very little information on this uncle except the name of his parents and the date of his birth. I had no idea what happened to him. The picture provided me with the date, the name of the newspaper, the city where the picture was taken and the detail of why he was in the newspaper. He had won a fishing contest! The picture was taken in Florida. I hit the jackpot! That one newspaper picture and short article lead me in a few directions that I was eager (and a bit impatient) to explore. Being the type of person that has a bit of genealogy intuition once in a great while, (I swear, my mother could "smell" a Dairy Queen 50 miles away!) I felt on was on the verge of discovering more information about my uncle if I kept looking in Florida. I sure did too. I searched Florida's vital records and discovered his death certificate. After I received a genealogical copy of his death certificate, I continued to be curious because a large portion was blocked out. So, I did what any normal, persistent amateur genealogist would do- I requested the local newspaper for the specific time frame of his death (on microfilm, via inter library loan) and again searched. I found a number of articles about my uncle and copied all. The stories were of two tragedies and my uncle's unfortunate involvement. Based on those newspaper articles of the time, I can now provide a more factual story about my great uncle in our family history book.
I didn't really think about what I would discover when I started looking at that picture of my great uncle. I simply had an idea and I went with it. People say that a picture provides a thousand words, in this case it surely did! So, take another look at those pictures and see what you can find out with a little research and a lot of patience!

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The Family

The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. ~Erma Bombeck

Genealogy Pox, author unknown


SYMPTOMS: Continual complaint as to need for names, dates and places. Patient has a blank expressions, sometimes deaf to spouse and children. Has no taste for work of any kind, except feverishly looking through records at libraries and courthouses.
Has a compulsion to write letters. Swears at mailman when he doesn't leave mail. Frequents strange places such as cemeteries, ruins, and remote desolate country areas. Makes secret night calls and hides phone bills from spouse. Mumbles to self. Has strange, faraway look in eyes.


TREATMENT: Medication is useless. This disease is not fatal, but gets progressively worse. Patient should attend genealogy workshops, subscribe to genealogical magazines and be given a quiet corner in the house where he/she can be alone.

REMARKS: The unusual nature of this disease is that the sicker the patient gets, the more he or she enjoys it!