Also see Heritage Albums, Family History, and Family Reunions.
I started out calmly, tracing my tree,
To see if I could find the makings of me.
And all that I had was Great Grandfather's name,
Not knowing his wife or from whence he came.
I chased him across a long line of states,
And came up with pages and pages of dates.
When all put together, it made me forlorn,
Poor old Great-Grandpa had never been born.
One day I was sure the truth I had found,
Determined to turn this whole thing upside down.
I looked up the record of one Uncle John,
But then found the old man to be younger than his son.
Then when my hopes were fast growing dim,
I came across records that must have been him.
The facts I collected made me quite sad,
Dear Old great-grandfather was never a Dad.
It seems that someone is pulling my leg,
I'm not at all sure I wasn't hatched from an egg.
After hundreds of dollars I've spent on my tree,
I can't help but wonder if I'm really me.
If you could see your ancestors
All standing in a row,
Would you be proud of them, or not,
Or don't you really know?
Some strange discoveries are made
In climbing family trees.
And some of them, you know,
Do not particularly please.
If you could see your ancestors
All standing in a row,
There might be some of them, perhaps,
You wouldn't care to know.
But there's another question
Which requires another view.
If you could meet your ancestors,
Would they be proud of you?
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 U.S. Census.
He always kept his luggage packed, this man who had no fame.
And every twenty years or so, this rascal changed his name.
His parents came from Europe. They should be upon some list
of passengers to USA, but somehow they got missed.
And no one else in this world 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 weather took the engraving, and some vandals 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.
Margaret and her female relatives got together for lunch. Present were 1 great-grandmother, 2 grandmothers, 1 great aunt, 4 mothers, 3 aunts, 3 first cousins, 4 sisters, 6 daughters, 4 nieces, 4 granddaughters, 1 great niece, 1 great granddaughter and 2 first cousins once removed--making a total of--7 people! How could total be correct?
(Answer - Margaret; her daughters - Patricia and Marilyn; Patricia's daughter - Tracy; Marilyn's daughters - Megan and Kimberly; and Megan's daughter - Rachel.)
(by Randall Black Feb. 26, 1996 Irvine, CA)
I get the worst machine and turn the crank,
And watch the names go by,
My eyes bug out and I'll be frank,
I sometimes wonder why.
And does it really make a damn;
If Becky married Tom or Sam?
Or sailed upon the sea? The dusty books,
the puzzled looks,
The census scrawl, the long lost mall,
The time I once had free,
When hours were spent In blessed sleep,
Once it was the football teams,
Or looking at the stars,
A fish to catch down by the stream,
And playing my guitar.
Now it's names galore and tales of yore,
And thou and thy and thee
The courthouse burned!
What have I learned?
But then I look at all the names,
In ordered files, forever claimed,
From time's dark clutch, It isn't much,
I know they're out there, calling me,
The names, the dates, the stories,
The lure of genealogy,
Is long lost love and glory.
You ask me why I cruise the Net,
And write for Rooters free,
I guess it's that I love the stuff,
(OR Oh, for a court record on gggggggrandpa)
(Virginia Scott Miner, Saturday Evening Post November 22,1941)
It's nice to come from gentle folk
Who wouldn't stoop to brawl
Who never took a lusty poke
At anyone at all.
Who never raised a raucous shout
At any country inn
Or calmed an ugly fellow lout
With a belaying pin.
Who never shot a revenuer
Hunting for the still.
Who never rustled cattle, who're
Pleased with uncle's will.
Who lived their lives out as they ought,
With no uncouth distractions,
And shunned like leprosy the thought
Of taking legal action.
It's nice to come from gentle folk
Who've never known disgrace,
But oh, though scandal is no joke
It's easier to trace!
Alas, my elusive kinsmen
You've led me quite a chase
I thought I'd found your courthouse
But the Yankees burned the place.
You always kept your bags packed
Although you had no fame, and
Just for the fun of it
Twice you changed your name.
You never owed any man, or
At least I found no bills
In spite of eleven offspring
You never left a will.
They say our name's from Europe
Came state side on a ship
Either they lost the passenger list
Or granddad gave them the slip.
I'm the only one that's looking
Another searcher I can't find
I play "maybe that's his fathers name"
As I go out of my mind.
They said you had a headstone
In a shady plot
I've been there twenty times, and
Can't even find the lot.
You never wrote a letter
Your Bible we can't find
It's probably in some attic
Out of sight and out of mind.
You first married a Smith
And just to set the tone
The other four were Sarahs
And everyone a Jones.
You cost me two fortunes
One of which I did not have
My wife, my house and Fido
God, how I miss that faithful Lab.
But somewhere you slipped up,
Ole Boy, somewhere you left a track
And If I don't find you this year
Well, next year I'll be back.
(Darlene Stevens of Spokane, Washington)
It was the first day of census, and all through the land;
The pollster was ready, a black book in hand.
He mounted his horse for a long dusty ride;
His book and some quills were tucked close by his side.
A long winding ride down a road barely there;
Toward the smell of fresh bread wafting, up through the air.
The woman was tired, with lines on her face;
And wisps of brown hair she tucked back into place.
She gave him some water as they sat at the table;
And she answered his questions . . . the best she was able.
He asked of her children. Yes, she had quite a few;
The oldest was twenty, the youngest not two.
She held up a toddler with cheeks round and red;
his sister, she whispered, was napping in bed.
She noted each person who lived there with pride;
And she felt the faint stirrings of the wee one inside.
He noted the sex, the color, the age,
The marks from the quill soon filled up the page.
At the number of children, she nodded her head;
And saw her lips quiver for the three that were dead.
The places of birth she "never forgot";
Was it Kansas? or Utah? or Oregon--or not?
They came from Scotland, of that she was clear;
But she wasn't quite sure just how long they'd been here.
They spoke of employment, of schooling and such;
They could read some and write some--though really not much.
When the questions were answered, his job there was done;
So he mounted his horse and he rode toward the sun.
We can almost imagine his voice loud and clear;
"May God bless you all for another ten years."
Now picture a time warp--its' now you and me;
As we search for the people on our family tree.
We squint at the census and scroll down so slow;
As we search for that entry from long, long ago.
Could they only imagine on that long ago day;
That the entries they made would effect us this way?
If they knew, would they wonder at the yearning we feel;
And the searching that makes them so increasingly real.
We can hear if we listen the words they impart;
Through their blood in our veins and their voice in our heart.
"I am a cencus takers for the city of Bufflow. Our City has groan very fast in resent years and now in 1865, it has become a hart and time consuming job to count all the peephill. There are not many that can do this werk, as it is nesessarie to have an ejucashun, wich a lot of pursons still do not have. Anuther atribeart needed for this job is good speling, for many of the pepill to be counted can hardle speek inglish, let alon spel there names!"
We are people to whom the past is forever speaking. We listen to it because we cannot help ourselves, for the past speaks to us with many voices.
Far out of that dark nowhere which is the time before we were born, men and women who were flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone went through fire and storm to break a path to the future.
We are part of the future they died for; they are part of the past that brought the future. What they did--the lives they lived, the sacrifices they made, the stories they told, the songs they sang, and, finally, the deaths they died--make up a part of our own experience.
We cannot cut ourselves off from it. It is as real to us as something that happened last week. It is a basic part of our heritage as human beings.
8 gr grandparents
16 gg grandparents
32 ggg grandparents
64 gggg grandparents
128 ggggg grandparents
256 gggggg grandparents
512 ggggggg grandparents
1,024 gggggggg grandparents
2,048 ggggggggg grandparents
4,096 gggggggggg grandparents
8,192 ggggggggggg grandparents
16,384 ggggggggggg grandparents
32,768 ggggggggggggg grandparents
65,536 gggggggggggggg grandparents
131,072 ggggggggggggggg grandparents
262,144 gggggggggggggggg grandparents
524,288 ggggggggggggggggg grandparents
1,048,576 gggggggggggggggggg grandparents
2,097,152 ggggggggggggggggggg grandparents
4,194,304 gggggggggggggggggggg grandparents
You have a lot of work to do.
One way to help find the era your ancestor was buried is to examine the material from which the tombstone is made. If your ancestor has a stone made of slate or common fieldstone (except wood used by pioneers), chances are the stone dates from 1796-1830.
* If the stone is flat-topped hard marble, dates are about 1830-1849.
* If the "mystery" stone is round or pointed soft marble with cursive inscriptions, look for a date of 1845-1868.
* Masonic four-sided stones began in 1850 and are still in use today.
* Pylons, columns and all exotic-style monuments are usually dated 1860-1900.
* Zinc monuments dare from 1870-1900.
* Granite, now common, came into use about 1900.
If the writing is too faded to read, use a 75-watt black light bulb in any lamp that casts light directly on the written message. The writing will miraculously appear.
I concur, this is a "Non destructive" method of raising the writing, another method is Black and white Photography with a #25 red filter, it increases contrast.
Highlighting the stone works too, (reflecting light along the surface), also Infrared film will show amazing detail, IF you know how to use it, and can get it processed correctly.
These are "professional" techniques, and are effective, without destroying the patina on the stone, as is often the case when cleaning chemicals are applied, or "shaving cream" which kills the surface ecology, and opens the pores, allowing water in to "exfoliate" the stone.
Normally you should photograph stones on a cloudy or overcast day for even lighting, and better exposure control.
Last note: even though you are photographing the stone, write down the inscription while you are there, it is easier to read from your notes than from a machine processed print.
Jeff Scism, (Former) Professional Photographer, IBSSG
There's been a change in Grandma; we've noticed her of late.
She always reading history or jotting down some date.
She's tracking back the family; we'll all have pedigrees.
Oh, Grandma's got a hobby--she's climbing FAMILY TREES.
Poor Grandpa does the cooking, and now, or so he states,
That worst of all, he has to wash the cups and dinner plates.
Grandma can't be bothered, she busy as a bee,
Compiling genealogy for the FAMILY TREE.
She has no time to baby-sit, the curtains are a fright,
No buttons left on Grandpa's shirt, the flower bed's a sight.
She's given up her club work and the soaps on TV,
The only thing she does nowadays is climb the FAMILY TREE.
She goes down to the courthouse and studies ancient lore,
We know more about our forebears than we ever knew before.
The books are old and dusty; they make poor Grandma sneeze,
A minor irritation when you're climbing the FAMILY TREE.
The mail is all for Grandma, it comes from near and far,
Last week she got the proof she needs to join the D.A.R.
A monumental project all do agree,
All from climbing up the FAMILY TREE.
Now some folks came from Scotland, some from Galway Bay,
Some were French as pastry, some German all the way.
Some went West to stake there claims, some stayed there by the sea.
Grandma hopes to find them all, as she climbs the FAMILY TREE.
She wanders through the graveyard in search of date and name,
The rich, the poor, the in-between, all sleeping there the same.
She pauses now and then to rest, fanned by a gentle breeze,
That blows above the Fathers of all our FAMILY TREES.
There are pioneers and patriots, mixed in our kith and kin,
Who blazed the paths of wilderness and fought through thick and thin.
But none more staunch than Grandma, whose eyes light up with glee,
Each time she finds a missing branch for the FAMILY TREE.
Their skills were wide and varied, from carpenter to cook,
And one, alas, the records show, was hopelessly a crook.
Blacksmith, weaver, farmer, judge--some tutored for a fee.
Once lost in time, now all recorded on the FAMILIY TREE.
To some it's just a hobby, to Grandma it's much more,
She learns the joys and heartaches of those that went before.
They loved, they lost, they laughed, they wept--and now, for you and me,
They live again in spirit, around the FAMILY TREE.
At last she's nearly finished and we are each exposed,
Life will be the same again, this we all supposed.
Grandma will cook and sew, serve cookies with our tea.
We'll all be fat, just as before the wretched FAMILY TREE.
Sad to relate, the preacher called and visited for a spell.
We talked about the Gospel, and other things as well.
The heathen folk, the poor and then--'twas fate, it had to be,
Somehow the conversation turned to Grandma and the FAMILY TREE.
He never knew his Grandpa, his mother's name was . . . Clark?
He and Grandma talked and talked, while outside it grew dark.
We'd hoped our fears were groundless, but just like some disease,
Grandma's become an addict--she's hooked on FAMILY TREES.
Our souls are filled with sorrow, our hearts sad with dismay.
Our ears could scarce believe the words we heard our Grandma say,
"It sure is a lucky thing that you have come to me,
I know exactly how it's done. I'll climb your FAMILY TREE."