The Inevitable Laws of Genealogy
The records you need for your family history were in the courthouse
John, son of Thomas, the immigrant whom your relatives claim as immigrant
ancestor, died on board ship at the age of twelve.
The public ceremony in which your distinguished ancestor participated when
the platform under him collapsed....... they didn't tell you he had a rope
around his neck.
Records show that the grandfather, whom the family boasted, "He read the
Bible at four years and graduated from college at sixteen," was at the
foot of the class.
Your grandmother's maiden name for which you've searched for years was on
an old letter in a box in the attic all the time.
When at last you've solved the mystery of the skeleton in the closet, the
tight-lipped spinster aunt claimed, "I could have told you that all the time.
You never asked your father about his family because you weren't interested
in genealogy while he was alive.
The family story your grandmother wrote for the family never got past the
typist. She packed it away "somewhere" and promised to send you a copy, but
The relative who had all the family photographs gave them to her daughter
who had no interest in genealogy and no inclination to share.
A great-uncle changed his surname because he was teased in school. He
moved away, left no address, and was never heard from again.
Brittle old newspapers containing the information you desired have fallen
apart on the names, dates, and places.
The only record you find for your great-grandfather is that his property
was sold at a sheriff's sale for insolvency.
The portion of the index you need is continued in the next issue, only the
publisher died prior to publication.
When you find the obituary for your grandmother, the information is garbled.
Her name is exchanged with her daughter's, the whereabouts of her sons is
unknown, the date for her father's birth indicates he was younger than she.
The only surname not found among the three billion in the Mormon Archives is
The vital records director sends you a negative reply, having just been
insulted by a creep calling himself a genealogist.
The 4 volume, 4,800 page history of the county where your great-grandfather
lived is not indexed.
I am my own grandpa!
Many many years ago when I was twenty three,
I got married to a widow who was pretty as could be.
This widow had a grown-up daughter who had hair of red.
My father fell in love with her, and soon the two were wed.
This made my dad my son-in-law and changed my very life.
My daughter was my mother, for she was my father's wife.
To complicate the matters worse, although it brought me joy,
I soon became the father of a bouncing baby boy.
My little baby then became a brother-in-law to dad and so became my Uncle,
Though it made me very sad.
For if he was my uncle, then that also made him brother
To the widow's grown-up daughter who, of course, was my step-mother.
Father's wife then had a son, who kept them on the run.
And he became my grandson, for he was my daughter's son.
My wife is now my mother's mother and it makes me blue.
Because, although she is my wife, she's my grandmother too.
If my wife is my grandmother, then I am her grandchild.
And every time I think of it, it simply drives me wild.
For now I have become the strangest case you ever saw.
As the husband of my grandmother, I am my own grandpa!
*** WISH LIST ***
I want ancestors with names like Rudimentary Montagnard or Melchizenick von Steubenhoffmannschild or Spetznatz Giafortoni, not William Brown or John Hunter or Mary Abbott.
I want ancestors who could read and write, had their children baptised in recognised houses of worship, went to school, purchased land, left detailed wills (naming a huge extended family as legatees), had their photographs taken once a year - subsequently putting said pictures in elaborate isinglass frames annotated with calligraphic inscriptions, and carved valuable and informative inscriptions in their headstones.
I want relatives who managed to bury their ancestors in established, still-extant (and indexed) cemeteries.
I want family members who wrote memoirs, who enlisted in the military as officers and who served in strategically important (and well-documented) skirmishes.
I want relatives who served as councilmen, schoolteachers, county clerks and town historians.
I want relatives who "religiously" wrote in the family Bible, journalising every little event and detailing the familial relationship of every visitor.
In the case of immigrant ancestors, I want them to have arrived only in those years wherein passenger lists were indexed by the National Archives, and I want them to have applied for citizenship, and to have done so only in those jurisdictions which have since established indices.
I want relatives who were patriotic and clubby, who joined every patrimonial society they could find, who kept diaries, and listed all their addresses, who had paintings made of their houses, and who dated every piece of paper they touched.
I want ancestors who were wealthy enough to afford, and to keep for generations, the family homestead, and who left all the aforementioned pictures and diaries and journals intact in the library
But most of all: I want relatives I can FIND!!!!!
These are copies of actual correspondence received by the Family History Department.
Our 2nd great grandfather was found dead crossing the plains in the library. He was married 3 times in the endowment house and has 21 children.
He and his daughter are listed as not being born.
I would like to find out if I have any living relatives or dead relatives or ancestors in my family.
Will you send me a list of all the Dripps in your library?
My Grandfather died at the age of 3.
We are sending you 5 children in a separate envelope.
Documentation: Family Bible in possession of Aunt Merle until the tornado hit Topeka, Kansas. Now only the Good Lord knows where it is.
The wife of #22 could not be found. Somebody suggested that she might have been stillborn - what do you think?
I am mailing you my aunt and uncle and 3 of their children.
Enclosed please find my Grandmother. I have worked on her for 30 years without success. Now see what you can do!
I have a hard time finding myself in London. If I were there I was very small and cannot be found.
This family had 7 nephews that I am unable to find. If you know who they are, please add them to the list.
We lost our Grandmother, will you please send us a copy?
Will you please send me the name of my first wife? I have forgotten her name.
A 14-year-old boy wrote: "I do not want you to do my research for me. Will you please send me all of the material on the Welch line, in the US, England and Scotland countries? I will do the research."
Top 10 indicators that you've become a geneaholic
10. You introduce your daughter as your descendent
9. You've never met any of the people you send e-mail to, even though you're related
8. You can recite your lineage back eight generations, but can't remember your nephew's name
7. You have more photographs of dead people than of living ones
6. You've even taken a tape recorder and/or notebook to a family reunion
5. You've not only read the latest GEDCOM standard, but also you understand it
4. The local genealogy society borrows books from you
3. The only film you've seen in the last year was the 1880 census index
2. More than half of your CD collection is made up of marriagerecords or pedigrees
1. Your elusive ancestor has been spotted in more different places than Elvis!