More Genealogy Humor, Part 2 :-)

Posted 25Nov1998 ILLINOIS-ROOTS-L@LISTSERV.INDIANA.EDU mailing list:

The Top Ten Indicators That You've Become a Gene-aholic.....

  1. You introduce your daughter as your descendant.

  2. You've never met any of the people you send e-mail to, even though you are related.

  3. You can recite your lineage back 8 generations, but can't remember your nephew's name.

  4. You have more photographs of dead people than living ones.

  5. You have taken a tape recorder and/or notebook to a family reunion.

  6. You have not only read the latest Gedcom standards, you understand it.

  7. The local genealogy society borrows books from you.

  8. The only film you have seen in the last year was the 1880 census index.

  9. More than half of your CD collection is made up of marriage records or pedigrees.

  10. Your elusive ancestors have been spotted in more places than Elvis.


Maybe this is why we are having problems finding some of our relatives!

This guy is walking through Chinatown.  He is fascin­ated with all the Chinese Restaurants, the Chinese shops, the Chinese signs and banners on the buildings. He is having the best time just walking and looking.

He turns a corner and sees a building with a sign "Hans Olaffsen's Laundry."

"Hans Olaffsen?" he thinks.  "How in the world does that fit in here?"

So, he walks into the shop and sees an old Chinese gentleman sitting in the corner. The visitor asks, "How in the world did this place get a name like Hans Olaffsen's Laundry?"

The old man answers "Is name of owner."  The visitor asks "Well, who in the heck is the owner?" "I am he," answers the old man.  "You? How in the heck did you ever get a name like Hans Olaffsen?" The old man replies, "Many years ago when I come to this country, I was standing in line at Documentation Center. Man in front of me was big blonde Swede.

"Lady look at him and go 'What your name?'  He say 'Hans Olaffsen.'

"She look at me . . . "What your name?"  I say, 'Sem Ting.'"

The Genealogist's Psalm

Genealogy is my pastime, I shall not stray.
It maketh me to lie down and examine
half-buried tombstones.
It leadeth me into still courthouses;
It restoreth my ancestral knowledge.
It leadeth me in paths of census records &
ship's passenger lists for my surname's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the shadows of
research libraries & microfilm readers,
I shall fear no discouragement.
For a strong urge is within me; the curiosity
& motivation they comforteth me.
It demandeth preparation of storage space
for the acquisition of countless documents.
It annointeth my head with burning mid-night
oil; my family group sheets runneth over.
Surely birth, marriage, & death dates shall
follow me all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of a
family-History seeker forever.

Poem posted on Roots_L mailing list on 28 Sep 1996

Posted to NORTHEAST-ROOTS-L mailing list on 14 Jan 1999.

Dear Ancestor

Your tombstone stands among the rest;
Neglected and alone.
The name and the date are chiseled out
On polished, marbled stone.
It reaches out to all who cares
It is too late to mourn.
You did not know that I exist
You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you
In flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse
Entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled
One hundred years ago
Spreads out among the ones you left
Who would have loved you so.
I wonder if you lived and loved,
I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot,
And come to visit you.

—Author Unknown

  1. The family you are looking for will be on the last page of the unindexed (of course) census film that you check. However, if you begin at the end of the roll, they will be on Page 1.

  2. The microfilm that you have diligently searched page-by-page will have an index at the end.

  3. All of your spouse's ancestors will be mentioned in county histories. None of yours will be.

  4. If you need just one record, the microfilm will have page numbers. If you need 3 or more records, there won't be any page numbers and the records will not be in proper order.

  5. The book you need most will be out being rebound.

  6. You will need item 23 on a microfilm roll that has 22 items. The rest of the film is continued on another roll that will not be in the drawer, and the librarian will tell you that it is "missing, and presumed lost."

  7. Just before the entry you need, the records will end. They will begin again two years after the date you need.

  8. If one brother is left out of the genealogy of a family, guess whose ancestor he will be?

  9. If there is a family history on one branch of the family—it won't be yours.

  10. When you finally find the microfilmed probate records of your missing link to a rich and/or famous line, the book will be so tightly bound that you can only make out the first two letters of the name of the one who MAY be your ancestor.

  11. The researcher you hire to read the original records at the courthouse will inform you that only the particular probate packet you need is missing.

  12. During the last hour of your trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City you will find everything you've hunted all week for, but you won't have time to copy it.

More Murphy's Laws for Genealogists
  • The public ceremony in which your distinguished ancestor participated and at which the platform collapsed under him turned out to be a hanging.

  • When at last after much hard work you have solved the mystery you have been working on for two years, your aunt says, "I could have told you that."

  • Your grandmother's maiden name that you have searched for, for four years, was on a letter in a box in the attic all the time.

  • You never asked your father about his family when he was alive because you weren't interested in genealogy then.

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

  • Copies of old newspapers have holes occurring only on the surnames.

  • John, son of Thomas, the immigrant whom your relatives claim as the family progenitor, died on board ship at age 10.

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

  • The keeper of the vital records you need has just been insulted by a another genealogist.

  • The relative who had all the family photographs gave them all to her daughter who has no interest in genealogy and no inclination to share.

  • The only record you find for your great grandfather is that his property was sold at a sheriff's sale for insolvency.

  • The one document that would supply the missing link in your dead-end line has been lost due to fire, flood, or war.

  • The town clerk to whom you wrote for the infor­mation sends you a long handwritten letter which is totally illegible.

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

  • None of the pictures in your recently deceased grandmother's photo album have names written on them.

  • No one in your family tree ever did anything note­worthy, owned property, was sued, or was named in wills.

  • 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."

  • Ink fades and paper deteriorates at a rate inversely proportional to the value of the data recorded.

  • The 37-volume, 16,000-page history of your county of origin isn't indexed.

  • You finally find your great grandparent's wedding records and discover that the bride's father was named John Smith.

  • All the Vital records of the town you need are in alphabetical order by FIRST name and not in chronological order.

  • After a 2,500 mile trip, you are told "The Archive Clerk is on vacation. Come back next month."

  • "Your family cemetery is at the bottom of that lake."

  • Your key grave stone is marked "BALL, Father, Mother, and Mattie".

  • Two of your ancestors "died young".

—Posted 12 Nov 1998 on

  • You brake for libraries.

  • You hyperventilate at the sight of an old cemetery.

  • You would rather browse in a cemetery than a shopping mall.

  • You would rather read census schedules than a good book.

  • You are more interested in what happened in 1697 than 1997.

  • Moses, Dorcas, and Caleb are household names, but you cannot remember what to call the dog.

  • You can pinpoint Sewickely, McKeesport, Evans City, (PA) but can't locate your state capitol on the map.

  • You think every home should have a copier and a microfilm reader.

  • You know every register of deeds in the state by name, but they lock the doors when they see you coming.

  • You store your clothes under the bed, because your closet is full of books and papers.

  • All your correspondence begins "Dear Cousin."

  • You have traced every one of your ancestral lines back to Adam and Eve, have it documented and still don't want to quit.

    —No author attribution

.....You Know You're Taking Genealogy Too Seriously If.....

  • You are the only person to show up at the cemetery research party with a shovel.

  • In order to put the "final touches" on your genealogical research, you've asked all of your closest relatives to provide DNA samples.

  • You were instrumental in having "non-genealogical use of the genealogy 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.

  • Out of respect for your best friend's un­ques­tioned reputation for honesty and integrity, you are willing to turn off that noisy surveillance camera while she reviews your 57 genealogical research notebooks in your home. The armed security guard, however, will remain.

  • You plod merrily along "refining" your recently published family history, blissfully unaware that the number of errata pages now far exceeds the number of pages in your original publication.

  • During an ice storm and power outage, you ignore the pleas of your shivering spouse and place your last quilt around that 1886 photograph of dear Uncle George.

  • The most recent document in your "Missing Ancestors" file is a 36-page contract be­tween you and Johnson Billboard Advertising Company.

  • Ed McMahon, several TV cameras and an envelope from Publishers Clearing House arrive at your front door on Super Bowl Sunday, and the first thing you say is, "Are you related to the McMahons of Ohio?"

  • "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 your any one wish, and you ask that the 1890 census be restored.

Posted to PACHESTE-L mailing list in 1998.

Hourly calorie consumption of
genealogical activities:
beating around the bush75
jumping to conclusions100
climbing the walls150
passing the buck25
dragging your heels100
bending over backward75
running around in circles350

Genealogist's Dilemma

While looking up my fam'ly tree
A horrid sight there I did see
This horse thief stared right down at me
I turned around and tried to flee

Please stop he called I'm Great gramp Bob
And horses just my side line job
Don't be too quick to be a snob
With the elite I did hob nob

Please do not hide this sad research
I was a pillar of the church
Until I did our name besmirch
And toppled from my lofty perch

For if my acts do you displease
Before you cheer my obsequies
Search your own life for errors please
And any deeds that smell like cheese

The acts that you perform today
Will they look white or dapple-grey
And in the future will they say
Oh no, I have this DNA

Author:  Arthur L. Glasgow — 1997

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 20 years or so this rascal changed his name.
His parents came from Europe,
they should be upon a list of passengers to USA,
but somehow they got missed.
And no one else in this world is seaching for this man;
So I play genesolitaire to find him if I can.
I'm told he's buried in a plot, with tombstone he was blessed;
But the 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.

Author: Merrell Kentworthy      

Preserving the Past
Who is this little girl?
What happened on this day?
Did she grow up to be a mom?
No one can truly say.

How proud and glad I'm sure she'd be
To see herself this way.
But through neglect and lack of care,
Her joy is lost today.

Stored in a box and put away,
Forgotten there so long ago —
Along with letters, flowers and cards,
And other faces we don't know.

Such a pretty little picture,
And its condition is quite good —
But no one ever kept it in
The place they really should.

So when I found her photo there,
It made me sad to see,
For all her youthful days on earth
Were lost in history.

—Author unknown

The Way of the World

Oh, where are the playmates of yesterday?
The fellows we knew at school?
Oh, what has become of the studious one?
And where, oh where, is the fool?

Oh, what has become of the orator,
Whose passion was to recite?
And the bashful kid who could speak no piece,
Unless he succumbed to some fright?

Oh, what has become of the model boy,
Who was always the teacher's pet?
And where, oh where, is the tough young nut,
The one we can never forget?

The studious one, so we have been told,
Is driving a cab these days.
The fool owns stock in a bank or two,
And a railroad that always pays.

The orator that we knew so well
Is a clerk in a drygoods store.
While the bashful kid we knew has been
In Congress ten years or more.

The model boy has been behind bars
For stealing a neighbor's cow.
And you ask what of the tough young nut?
Oh, he's our Bishop now.

By J. W. Johnson
Journal of Commerce