TIP #38



As with most of my tips, this one is also prompted by another researcher having written me regarding subject matter. After much thought, I usually realize that others may also wonder the same thing. So for that reason, we have this tip's entry.



Here is the scenario--

You are researching and accidentally come across a piece of data that you just KNOW another researcher would be interested in...or at least they are researching that lineage.

But the subject matter is bad, I mean REALLY BAD.

Blood, Gore, just really gruesome stuff....but it happened at least 100 years ago. After the initial shock wears off of what you have read, you rethink your position in turning this over to your fellow researcher as the subject matter seems so sensitive.

Do you send it? Would they be interested by it or upset? Is it one of those things that is better left "undiscovered"?

I guess in a way, that is a personal decision, but on the other hand, I have to stop and think;

Any DEDICATED researcher would be interested in all aspects of data.

Although it would be very nice, we simply cannot "pick and choose" our history.

If in genealogy you were to remove all the really unpleasant stuff, let's see what we would be removing......

1. No deaths of any kind

2. No children's death

3. No epidemics

4. No War Records

5. No Prison Records

6. No Indian Uprisings/Massacres

7. No Migrating Stories (as many died on the journeys)

8. Many of your court records involving land disputes, etc

9. No Divorces

10. No Scandals of any kind

11. Some tales of childbirth (as many women died horribly that way)

Now in viewing just this simple listing we are eliminating as record resources:

Migrations, Court Records, Deaths, War Records, Prison Records, Births, major Historical Conflicts.

That removes A LOT of really basic resource materials.

Pretty much leaving marriages and census records...

It must be realized when undertaking the researching of our genealogy, that it is NOT all pleasant., our ancestors were strong people who struck out into unknown areas and faced daily items of unimaginable danger. Death was not a shock for them, but more the expected.

We, in our viewing, tend to view these occurences with our well trained and pampered eyes.

I say this as we today cannot conceive of someone dying of a cold, for example.

We cannot really conceive of someone raiding our home at a moment's notice and killing everyone in sight.

Something that always never fails to amaze me is how "we" the researchers are surprised to find out some of the items regarding our predecessors. I have discovered some amazing acts in my years of researching and because we have been conditioned that our ancestors lived a "purer and more wholesome" life then we do; we feel that the records must be in error.

Things we must remember in researching are:

1. Our ancestors were just as human and fallible as we are today.

2. Our ancestors had like passions and fits of anger such as many do today.

3. Babies WERE born before the marriage.

4. Our ancestors did have affairs and frequently divorced.

5. There WERE murders for any number of various reasons, some of them seeming quite silly to us today. I have in the past read about one man actually approaching another man's house, laying in wait outside a window and shooting the man inside and killing him..Why? Because he felt his neighbor stole "three sticks of wood from his woodlot".

6. There is a reason why the early days in history are described as a rough period of time. That is because there WERE. All attrocities didn't happen because of the Indian attacks.

7. Many of us are amazed in finding that a husband frequently remarried very, very soon after his wife's death without waiting what we think of as the prescribed period of mourning. These men did so for the simple reason that the woman's part in the daily living was an absolute necessity; the cooking, cleaning, canning, sewing, gardening, churning, child rearing, not to mention the occassional turn of being a help mate in the barn. This made it almost a "have to" that the men remarried or he was faced with splitting up the family to other relatives.

8. People DID commit suicide. Many were very isolated from others, especially the women.

9. People DID go insane.

10. People DID desert their families.

I know in my own various lineages there is talk that this one or that one was "buried in the pasture" simply because they divorced and remarried to a younger woman that the family deemed unworthy. Or the occassion that a sister is found in census records living with the family as the woman of the house is known to be sick or an invalid and then later after her death, the husband marries the sister....one must wonder about that one. But IT DID HAPPEN.

There were mysterious deaths, murders that were never solved and murders that occurred for no apparent reason. We have all read about reports of instant outbreaks and feuds that left one or the other dead. Sometimes these were occurrences that if the injury occurred today, most likely medical treatment could repair it. But then we are closer to assistance then many of our ancestors were.

In my family there is talk of "that woman got away with murder" and this was in the early 1900's. They STILL talk about it. Judging from newsclipping, she most likely did. But due to lack of evidence she was set free. She most likely did killed her husband !!

Overall, if we are making the decision to research the family history, we must make the conscious decision to accept the bad as well as the good.

After all are we writing a Fairy Tale or a Family History??

The bad is a part of the history as well. To remove any of it is to insult our ancestors by removing the trials and the human portion of them that caused some of the actions.

I mean, have you ever looked at the Civil War or the Revolutionary War and discarded it as a piece of history just because of the many deaths that occurred? Of course not.

Our ancestors were most definitely a hardy lot of people. They also lived in a much rougher and less sophisticated time frame then we do now. Many were in areas that "the law" simply didn't exist and things did indeed happen.

If for no other reason, the bad things cannot be overlooked or discarded as they may well explain a disappearance of an entire family... An occurence that we have all found ourselves scratching our heads about and saying "What? did they ALL just vanish"?