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Humor and Gleanings

"Humor is mankind's greatest blessing" - Mark Twain


Two ladies were talking together at a genealogical meeting. One woman was a bit of a snob. She said, "My family tree begins with my ancestors who arrived in America on the Mayflower!" The Other woman quickly replied, "Unfortunately we lost all our family records in The Flood!


Genealogy is not a hobby - it's an obsession.
Give me your tired, your poor - they're genealogists.
I've been researching my family tree - apparently I don't exist.
I use to have a life - then I started genealogy.
My family tree must have been used for fire wood.
Only a genealogist regards a step backwards as progress.
What do you mean my grandparents didn't have any children?
Who ever said "Seek and you shall find" was not a genealogist.


In the dim and distant past, life's tempo was not so fast.
Grandma used to rock & knit, crochet, tat, and baby sit.
When the kid's were in a jam, they could always call on gram.
But today she's in the gym exercising to keep slim.
Checking the web, surfing the net, sending e-mail, placing a bet.
Nothing stops or blocks her, now that Grandma's off her rocker.



Genealogy is making cucumbers out of pickles!


A researcher discovered a great-great uncle, whom we shall call Remus, was hanged for horse stealing and a train robbery in Montana in 1889. The only known photograph of Remus showed him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture was this inscription: "Horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted, and hanged in 1889."
The researcher e-mailed a Congressman relative asking for information about their great-great uncle. The Congressman's staff sent back the following biographical sketch.
"Uncle Remus was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets, and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function, held in his honor, when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed." -Author Unknown


Genealogy is tracing descent from someone who didn't!


  • Thou shalt name your male children: James, John, Joseph, Richard, Thomas, or William.
  • Thou shalt name your female children: Elizabeth, Mary, Martha, Sarah, Virginia, or Mae.
  • Thou shalt leave NO trace of your female children.
  • Thou shalt, after naming your children from the above lists, never refer to them by those names again; instead, thou shalt call them by strange nicknames such as: Ike, Polly, Dolly, or Sukey.
  • Thou shalt not use any middle names on ANY legal documents or census reports; and whenever possible, use only initials on legal documents.
  • Thou shalt learn to sign all documents illegibly so that your surname can be spelled, or misspelled in various ways: Tipper, Topper, Hopper, Tucker, Tapper.
  • Thou shalt, after no more than three generations, make sure that all family records are lost, misplaced, burned in a court house fire, lost at sea, or buried so that NO future trace of them can be found.
  • Thou shalt propagate misleading legends, rumors, and vague innuendo regarding your place of origin:
      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 the three brothers that came from ____.
  • Thou shalt leave no cemetery records, headstones, or headstones with legible names; no will any of the dates thereon match those in public records.
  • Thou shalt leave no family bible with records of birth, marriage, or death.
  • Thou shalt ALWAYS flip thy name around. If born James Albert, thou must make the rest of thy records in the name of Albert, AJ, JA, AL, Bert, Bart, or Fred.
  • Thou must also flip thy parents names around when making reference to them, although "Unknown" is an acceptable alternative.
  • Thou shalt name all generations of children with the identical first names, as will all of the brothers so that all cousins are named the same.


I'm stuck in my family tree, and I can't get down!



There isn't a thing I wouldn't give upon this lovely, glorious earth to find your name and place of birth. To find your parents and siblings too and learn a little bit of you. To find even the smallest trace of your final resting place.

To learn how your lived and how you died. Where did you marry your blushing bride? How did you earn your daily bread? And where did you rest your weary head? Was your life the one of ease, or work 'round the clock? Were you born of nobility or plain peasant stock? Was your life full of joy or deepest heartaches? Was it a life of success or sad mistakes?

These are the questions that plague my brain. Causing sleepless nights and headache pain. These are the questions I must confess, I think of constantly and about which I obsess. 'Cause over twenty tedious years I have spent trying to find out where you went. But for all my hard work, my results are nil, for dear, dead relative you elude me still!

By Bernice A. Breault/Courtesy of Dorothy McDonald


Isn't genealogy fun? The answer to one problem, leads to two more!


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 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 that 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 mom, and it surely makes me blue.
Because, although she is my wife, she is my grandma 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!
By Moe Jaffe and Dwight Latham


A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots!



tallWE ARE THE CHOSEN! There is in each family one who seems to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the story and to feel that somehow they know and approve. Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts, but instead, breathing life into all who have gone before.

We are the storytellers 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 may graves have we stood before and cried? How many times have we told ancestors "You have a lovely family, you would be proud of us". How may times have we walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love for us?

It goes beyond just documenting facts, it is who we are and why do we so the things we do? It is seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying "We can't let this happen". The bones here are bones of our bones and flesh of our flesh. It goes to doing something about it. It is pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish, and contributed to what we are today. It is respecting their hardships and losses, never giving in or giving up their resolve to build a life for their family.

tallIt is with deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a nation, and understanding that they were doing it for us. So we were born to be as we are, and that we might remember them. So we remember, with love and caring, recording each fact of their existence because they are a part of us.

So, as chosen scribes, we tell the story of our families. It is up to that one called and chosen in the next generation to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers.

"So shall it be written, so shall it be done".
Author Unknown/Courtesy of Dorothy McDonald


I'm not stuck, I'm ancestrally challenged!


  • In order to put the "final touches" on your genealogical research, you've ask all of your closest relatives to provide DNA samples.
  • You are the only person to show up at the cemetery research party with a shovel.
  • You were instrumental in having the "non genealogical 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.
  • During an ice storm outage, you ignore the pleas of your shivering spouse and placed your last quilt around that 1886 photograph of dear Uncle George.
  • "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 you only one wish and you ask that the 1890 census be restored.


Any family tree produces some lemons, nuts, and bad apples!


row The public ceremony in which your distinguished ancestor participated and at which the platform collapsed under him turned out to be a hanging.
row When at last, after much hard work, you have solved the mystery you have been working on for two years, when your aunt says, "I could have told you that".
row Your grandmother's maiden name that you have searched for over four years was on a letter in a box in the attic all the time.
row The last will and testament you need is in a safe on board the Titanic.
row Your great grandfather's newspaper obituary states that he died leaving no issue of record.
row None of the pictures in your recently deceased grandmother's photo album have names written on them.
row You finally find your great grandparent's wedding record and discover that the bride's father was named John Smith.
row No one in your family ever did anything noteworthy, owned property, was sued, or named in wills.
row Copies of all newspapers have holes occurring only over the surnames for which you are looking.
row You learn that your great aunt's executor just sold her life's collection of family genealogical materials to a flea market dealer "somewhere in New York City".
row The town clerk to whom you wrote for information sends you a long handwritten letter which is totally illegible.
row You never ask your father about the family when he was alive because you weren't interested in genealogy then.


Genealogy is where you confuse the dead and irritate the living!


sunblockWHAT IS A GENEALOGIST?sunblock
A full time detective.
A thorough historian.
An inveterate snoop.
A confirmed diplomat.
A keen observer.
A hardened skeptic.
An apt biographer.
A qualified linguist.
A part-time lawyer.
A studious sociologist.
An accurate reporter.
An hieroglyphics expert.
A complete nut!


sunblock Wears wide-brimmed hat to ward off sun and rain in cemeteries. sunblock
sunblock Wears trifocal glasses. sunblock
sunblock Has sticky tongue from licking stamps. sunblock
sunblock Muscular right arm from cranking microfilm readers. sunblock
sunblock Has carpal tunnel syndrome from using computer. sunblock
sunblock Gets writers cramp from taking notes. sunblock
sunblock Wears shirt with large pockets for pencils and membership cards. sunblock
sunblock Wears a vest with pedigree chart on back for others to read. sunblock
sunblock Carries a coin changer on belt for photocopy machines. sunblock
sunblock Wears knee pads for finding books on low shelves. sunblock
sunblock Owns sensible shoes. sunblock


Continual complaint as to need for names, dates, and places.
Has a blank expression and is sometimes deaf to spouse and children.
Has no taste for work of any kind except feverishly looking through records at the library and courthouse.
Has compulsion to write letters.
Swears at the mail carrier when he does not leave mail.
Frequents strange places, such as cemeteries, ruins, and remote desolate country areas.
Makes secret calls at night.
Hides telephone bills from spouse.
Mumbles to self and has a strange faraway look in his or her eyes.
Medication is useless. Disease is not fatal but grows progressively worse. Patient should attend genealogy workshops, subscribe to genealogy magazines, and be given a quiet corner in the house where he or she can work alone. The unusual nature of this disease is the sicker the patient gets, the more he or she enjoys it.


Genealogy is like Hide & Seek: They Hide and We Seek!



prettyI want ancestors who could read and write, had their children baptized in recognized 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 voluble and informative inscriptions in their headstones. I want relatives who managed to bury their predecessors 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 two historians. I want relatives who "religiously" wrote in the family Bible, journaling every little event, and detailing familiar relationship of every visitor.

In the case of immigrant progenitors, I want them to have arrived only in those years wherein passenger lists were indexed by 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.

prettyI 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 painting made of their horses, and who dated every piece of paper they touched. I want forbears who were wealthy enough to afford, and to keep for generations, the tribal 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!!

Written by Barbara A. Brown in 1994 and originally posted to the National Genealogical Conference, FIDO Bulletin Board Forum.


Genealogists are like monkeys, always in the trees!


sunblock Blessed are the great-grandmothers, who hoarded newspaper clippings and old letters, for they tell the story of their time.
sunblock Blessed are all grandfathers who filed every legal document, for this provides proof.
sunblock Blessed are grandmothers who preserved family Bibles and diaries, for this is our heritage.
sunblock Blessed are fathers who elect officials that answer letters of inquiry, for some, they are the only link to the past.
sunblock Blessed are mothers who relate family traditions and legends to the family, for one of her children will surely remember.
sunblock Blessed are the relatives who fill in family sheets with extra data, for them we owe the family history.
sunblock Blessed is any family who members strive for the preservation of records, for theirs is a labor of love.
sunblock Blessed are the children who will never say, "Grandma, you have told that old story twice today".
Source: Prairieland Pioneer, Prairieland Genealogical Society


Try genealogy. You can't get fired and you can't quit!


1. Go forth and multiply.
2. Pack up and move to a different location many times.
3. Use names other than those given to you.
4. Refuse to talk about your family or ancestors.
5. Make up interesting stories that can't be verified.
6. Make spelling changes to your name regularly.
7. Have many different birth dates.
8. Do not record any kind of family information.
9. Do not save any family correspondence.
10. Claim to have come from a different country (preferably one that doesn't keep records.
By a Frustrated Genealogist


Genealogy is a search for the greatest treasures - our ancestors!


God grant me the serenity to accept the ancestors I cannot find,
the courage to find the ones I can,
and the wisdom to document thoroughly.