All in the Family

Many of you may have heard this one before.  In fact, there was a country song based on it.
Or maybe it is the song -- I couldn't say.

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 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!!

-- Moe Jaffe and Dwight Latham

Anyone want to chart that family tree?

Genealogists dilemma

A very 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 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."

Top 10 Indicators that you're a gene-aholic:

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 living ones.

  6. You've taken a tape recorder and/or notebook to a family reunion.

  5. You've not only read the latest GEDCOM standard, but you also 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 1/2 of your book collection is made up of marriage records or pedigrees.

  1. Your elusive ancestor has been spotted in more different places than Elvis!


"Why waste your money looking up your family tree?
Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you!"

-- Mark Twain

"I didn't really want to get into genealogy!  I just kept putting it off!
Then, when I finally started, within six weeks, I had my father narrowed down to one of three or four people!"

-- unknown

"Adam and Eve must have found genealogy very boring."

-- unknown

Are You A Good Ancestor?

A good ancestor keeps certificates including birth and death certificates; records including health, military, naturalization, and school; passports; newspaper and church notices; awards; photos; art and craft work; journals; Bibles; diaries; baby, school and wedding books; heirlooms.

He or she dates correspondence, cares for tombstones, keeps research organized, writes or tapes the family stories, and supports family organizations.

A good ancestor dates everything, is sure that full names are included, records where material may be found and always sees that at least one other copy of important data is somewhere else.

A hundred years from now, will they think you were a good ancestor?


In a Ribbesford, England, cemetery:

Anna Wallace

The children of Israel wanted bread
And the Lord sent them manna,

Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife,
And the Devil sent him Anna.

A widow wrote this epitaph in a Vermont cemetery:

Sacred to the memory of
my husband John Barnes
who died January 3, 1803

His comely young widow, aged 23, has
many qualifications of a good wife, and
yearns to be comforted.

Someone determined to be anonymous in Stowe, Vermont:

I was somebody.
Who, is no business
Of yours.

In a Georgia cemetery:

"I told you I was sick!"

In a cemetery in England:

Remember man, as you walk by,
As you are now, so once was I,
As I am now, so shall you be,
Remember this and follow me.

To which someone replied by writing on the tombstome:

To follow you I'll not consent,
Until I know which way you went.

The Genealogists Nightmare:

My daughter never married but she's lived with Joe, so long,
And they and the kids are so happy that somehow, it doesn't seem wrong.

My son, he was legally married but his wife kept her own name.
We don't know the name of our grand-kids but, we love everyone, just the same.

But, my sister, she really got married, she 'tied the knot' all seven times.
Her family could pass for a railroad with the crossing of so many lines!

My brother, well, he was adopted, but he found his natural kin,
And our family tree is just 'blooming' like a wild and monstrous thing.

I try to keep things in order, every one, a place of their own,
But what shall I do about Father, he says,"He's really a clone!"

-- E.H. Waldram

Murphy Was A Genealogist:

The keeper of the vital records you need will have just been insulted by another genealogist.

Your great-grandfather's obituary states that he died, leaving no issue of record.

The town clerk you wrote to in desperation, and finally convinced to give you the information you need, can't write legibly, and doesn't have a copying machine.

That ancient photograph of four relatives, one of whom is your progenitor, carries the names of the other three.

Copies of old newspapers have holes which occur only on maiden and surnames.

No one in your family tree ever did anything noteworthy, always rented property, was never sued, and was never named in wills.

You learned that Great Aunt Matilda's executor just sold her life's collection of family genealogical materials to a flea market dealer "somewhere in New York City."

Yours is the ONLY last name not found among the billions in the LDS archives in Salt Lake City.

Anything that could have burned, did.

The census taker with the clear handwriting and good ink never enumerated your ancestors.

If you find a well-documented, illustrious ancestor, you've probably made a mistake.

Your folks hated government and never filled out forms.

The book you need is never indexed, or, if indexed, doesn't include people.

Your families never had attics, much less Bibles or boxes full of photos.

All real library "finds" are made five minutes before closing, when the copier is broken.

The correctly shelved books and correctly filed forms are never the ones you need.

The person sitting next to you at the research center is finding ancestors every five minutes... and telling you so.

The e-mail address that bounces is the one from a person who listed your exact names.  If you find a working address, you aren't related.

Your cemeteries have no caretaker or records archive.

Alternate spellings and arcane names were your folks' favorite pass times.

Your ancestors only knew three names, and used them over and over in every collateral line.

Your sister neglects to mention that the date she gave you, which you have researched, and sent to other researchers, was just a guess with no foundation, and she guessed because she "didn't like leaving that line blank."

Your mother neglects to mention that, "Oh, yes, we knew they changed their name."

The critical link in your family tree is named "Smith."

The document containing evidence of the missing link in your research invariably will be lost due to fire, flood or war.

The will you need is in the safe on board the "Titanic".

The spelling of your European ancestor's name bears no relationship to its current spelling or pronunciaiton.

The 37 volume, sixteen-thousand-page history of your county of origin isn't indexed.

The blot on the page of the census covers your grandmother's birthdate!

Your ancestor's will leaves his estate to his beloved wife and children but he doesn't name them.

The only overturned, face-down gravestone in the cemetery is your great-great grandfather's!

The information you desperately need could be only found in an 1890 census?

You finally find your ancestor's obituary in an old newspaper and all it says is "Died last week."

You finally get a day off from work to travel to a courthouse -- and when you get there it's closed for emergency plumbing repairs.

Did some of those jog your memory?  Have they happened to you?