Never Ask A Genealogist…

I have made it a personal goal of mine to actually talk to living people in a face to face manner, everyday. You probably just read that and now your mind is all like, “wait. what?” I apologize and I will try to clear up the confusion post haste. If you are reading this, then you likely know that I talk to dead people (duh). Not the crystal ball, “John wants you to know that it is okay to get married again” kind of talking- though, if that is your thing, more power to you! But in the “who the heck are your parents and why can’t I find them???” kind of way. Yes. There is absolutely a difference. Anyway, sometimes, I tend to spend a lot of my time conversing with the dead and not nearly enough time cultivating living relationships with people other than those faceless names in my favorite Facebook hangouts. Surely, I am not the only one. And if I am, well this is a no judgement zone. So there.

Anyway, back to spending time with living, breathing people… I actually left my house- in a presentable fashion (which means I did all the things you are supposed to do on a daily basis, but I occasionally forget to do until 4 in the afternoon and I even put on CLEAN clothes that were not consistent with lounge pants or pajamas) and went out to meet Susan. (Her name isn’t really Susan, but she might be reading this and I want to save her as much embarrassment as possible… like she didn’t already stick her foot in her mouth and swallow it whole…) So, if your actual name happens to be Susan, I am not talking about you, so kindly delete the mega email you were about to compose…

Susan and I get together and we encourage each other to accomplish our goals. We are accountability partners, if you will and we strive to challenge each other to think completely out of the box. In all fairness, it is Susan, who encouraged me to develop my elevator pitch and who has pushed me to handle the business side of things and not just  the fun stuff.

So, imagine my surprise, when today, Susan asks me, “if you could talk to anyone past or present and have them answer your questions and tell you the lessons they have learned, who would it be and why?” I swear, I looked at her like she was speaking perfect Latin. In other words, this was the expression on my face- O. She knows I am a genealogist or family historian or whatever. She knows that whenever we get together, I am inevitably going to be late because I was having trouble tearing myself away from the latest mystery or hunt that I was pursuing among the dead people. SHE KNOWS THIS.

I know she was trying to challenge me to think and be a better person or whatever people who don’t talk to dead people all day think when they throw that question around; perhaps she even even expected me to say Martin Luther King, Jr. or President Obama or Former FLOTUS Michelle Obama- all interesting, for sure- but, come on, I TALK TO DEAD PEOPLE.

I asked her if she was serious. She looked at me with her innocent eyes and told me she was.

I whipped out my phone and shoved it in her face, as I simultaneously said, “I have two people.”

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I don’t know her name, but she is a Creek Indian and I have been studying her facial features, trying to determine if we share any likeness. I would ask her who she was and if she knew Rebeca (Rebeca McIntosh is one of my 2x great grandmothers, who is a documented Creek (Freedman) Indian, but other than a name and a spot on the Dawes Roll, I know next to nothing about). Then I held the phone next to my own shimmering face and asked Susan if she thought we resembled each other.

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And this is another of my 2x great grandmothers. I believe her name is Melissa Shaw and she is standing next to the one and only, FLOTUS Eleanor Roosevelt and shaking the hand of an equally important, Mary McLeod Bethune. I have no other information other than the names and the picture, so you can imagine all of the questions I want to ask her.

I went on to explain that both these women hail from my dad’s side of my tree and those branches have been not only difficult to find, but also not so forth coming in the life stories department. And then I took a breath, ready to delve into all the things I really wanted to know, but I saw the look on her face… Her eyes had begun to get all glossy-like and I think she might have even been nodding off. ( I deducted this from the bit of saliva running down the corner of her mouth and onto the palm of her hand, which I’m pretty sure was the only thing holding her head up.) “What’s wrong?” I asked her. And do you know what she had the nerve to say to me? She said, “you’re talking about all your genealogy stuff.”

I was answering the question. Wasn’t I? WASN’T I?????

And I think that is when she realized, there are certain things you NEVER ask a genealogist. In fact, I know this is when she discovered this tidbit of life changing information, because she said, “I guess, I should have thought about that before I asked you, considering what you spend all your time doing.”

Needless to say lunch was over fairly quickly after that. Apparently, I had violated some unspoken agreement between us, in which I do not talk about talking to dead people, as I motivate her or she motivates me. Honestly, I think she just made this up, because I can’t really see myself agreeing to not talk about my dead people, you know?

Anyway, that pleasant experience got me wondering a couple of things about you guys… If you could converse with anyone from your family tree, who would it be and why? And also, has your genealogy work ever come up at in an inopportune time and caused a disruption in the task at hand? I would love to hear your stories and tales of woe! Leave me a comment, so we can commensurate with each other and  if you wouldn’t mind, please like and share! Thanks! See you next time luv!

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11 comments

  1. Yes I often dream/wish that I could tine travel and have a few tough posts that maybe one day I’ll get to. Being at work everyday often finds me sneaking a few or more minutes to scribble post ideas if they pop in my mind. I’d much rather be home but for now I’m still stuck in that 40 hour job! Sad to say but I prob spend more time seeking dead people than I do with the living. We are all so dedicated to preserve the family history that we forget the living at times. You are not alone!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone in this! There are times that I wish and dream of being back in the work force, but then I come to the reality of things and understand that I would miss my friends (the dead) entirely to much for that. Lol!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jek · March 2

    She’s not actually shaking hands with Eleanor Roosevelt, though. Someone is shaking hands with Mary McLeod Bethune. Probably someone associated with Midway Hall, my guess would be a housemother or something. Have you asked at the Roosevelt Presidential Library? They may have identified people.. Or the NCNW? Or whatever school built Midway Hall? Hmmm, not a school, maybe. Something in DC apparently. Was you relative associated?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. My cousin sent me the picture and told me that she was shaking hands with Former FLOTUS. I was so curious about her that I never really looked at anyone else in the picture, even though, individually, I have studied both of these women at length. I have not tried those things, as of yet. Thank you for the suggestions. I am investigating her (my 2× great grandmother) now. Thus far, I have been doing the rounds with various family members, hoping one of them know the back story. I also have plans to visit my paternal grandmother and search through her gazillions of pictures to see if there are more. As of yet, no one seems to be sure of what she was doing or where she was.

      Like

  3. Amy · March 2

    I would love to meet and talk to all eight of my great-grandparents, first of all. And also my two grandfathers, one of whom died before I was born and the other before I turned five.

    And I get the eye roll all the time when I somehow end up talking about dead people….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad it isn’t just me… What would you talk to them about?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy · March 2

        I would love to talk to my maternal grandfather about life in Romania and how and why he left to come to the US as a 15 year old boy. Also, what his life was like in the US once he got here. As for my great-grandparents—I just would want to know what their lives were like, especially my maternal great-grandparents who also were born in Europe and came to the US in the late 19th, early 20th century. Thanks for asking!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for sharing! I enjoy hearing the things people want to know about their families- it definitely helps me when I am thinking about the things I want to talk to the living people about.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Morag · March 5

    How funny, I’ve just answered that question as part of doing the 31 Days of Family History Fitness. It was the question for Day 18. See https://unstmorag.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/family-history-fitness-week3/

    I have to sit on my hands when genealogy comes up in conversation, that way I can’t talk for long since I can’t talk without using my hands! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish sitting on my hands made me unable to talk about genealogy! I have just learned that there are only a few people who are truly interested and so I try to stick to them when I talk about my finds and mysteries.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I would love to talk to my paternal grandfather, never met him, he was executed by communist government (in Poland) when my dad was little.

    I love the photo of your mysterious Creek Indian ancestor. She is very beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

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