GENEALOGY AND . . .
H. David Morrow FuzzyGem@att.net
(Previously published in MISSING LINKS Vol. 8, No. 18, 4 May 2003) http://www.petuniapress.com/
Suddenly, at 3:18 a.m., I shouted: "I've got it!"
First, the dog awoke and jumped up so her front paws were on the pillow. Then, GW (Geneaholic Wife) bolted up quickly. "Are you alright?" she asked loudly.
"Never better," I replied. "I just figured out how to solve your genealogical problems." That got her attention. (In fact, it's the biggest surprise I've given her for years.)
"All you've got to do," I continued, "is combine your two hobbies."
"Genealogy and quilting?" Her voice went up almost two octaves.
"No. NO. Genealogy and gardening." I matched her increased vocal tone with my own, but a few notes lower. "The idea came to me in a dream just now."
"That must have been some nightmare," she snidely said as she resumed a supine position and turned to face the wall.
Most of my best ideas come to me in the shower, but once in a while I get a good one while I'm sleeping.
This concept is so simple, I'm surprised it didn't come to me years ago. See what you think. (So far this idea is free because I haven't figured out how I personally can profit from it--yet!)
Every genealogist spends inordinate amounts of time trying to find his/her roots. Gardeners do, too, because good roots mean healthy plants. Good roots also mean healthy individuals and families. Bad roots, if there are enough of them, make defective plants so they must be sought out and destroyed. (Question: Do bad family roots come from Bad Seeds?)
Addicted gardeners are called, of course, gardenholics. Addicted or dilettante, gardeners and genealogists do the same thing. Each family is called a line and the combination of lines is called the person's roots. Every person has a number of lines that contributes to their individual gene pool. In gardening, every plant has roots generally composed of a number of lines. All these roots and lines converge into a stalk or, as genealogists call it, a tree -- trunk.
Geneaholics dig up their roots (ancestors) and are often surprised to find some lines they didn't even know existed. It's like digging up a plant in your yard and discovering a root strand (line) that goes off in an unexpected direction. Readers are constantly sending me stories about an ancestor who "didn't quite fit" the family behavior pattern.
"The only thing genealogy and gardening have in common," said GW, her face burying deeper in the pillow, "is that they both begin with a "G". I persisted. "Yeah. Well try this. The best time to look at cemeteries is in the spring and fall. Why?"
"Because it's neither uncomfortably warm nor cold," she retorted.
"Right," I said, extending the word for a full two bars. (That's a musical term, not a drinking location.) "And when do you do garden planting and transplanting?"
"Uhh. In the Spring; sometimes the Fall." She was right again.
Undaunted, I proceeded. "When you're digging up a plant, doesn't the line of roots often stop at the brick wall?"
"Y-Y-Yes," she said, tentatively.
"And your genealogy lines stop at brick walls, too?"
"OK. OK. So there may be some similarities. I still don't see what your idea is," she said. GW was now fully awake. Further sleep would be impossible.
Here's my brilliant idea: If you combine genealogy and gardening, you can use the tools of one to help solve the problems of the other.
Suppose you discover that g-g-g-grandmother was a hooker (not the kind that hooked rugs!), just spray the documentation with some weed killer. It only takes a few days for all the papers to turn brown and dry out. The wind will blow them into a neighbor's yard and they (the ancestors) are not your problem anymore.
Certain other of your family members have no doubt spread like weeds, so a good shot of Roundup will rid the lines of them, too. (According to their commercials, Roundup works in 24 hours-or is that Spectracide?)
Tired of having brick walls in your genealogical lines? Simple solution: plant vines to climb up and over the walls. This may take a little time, but it's nothing compared to the time you spend trying to tear down the wall by getting information. So you disguise it with climbing Ivy or something.
Or you're this close to finding out more about 4th Great-Uncle Charlie. You lay out all the paperwork on the floor of the garage and then liberally spread manure over them. The very next morning, voila! You'll think of a source which will have the missing information. (This comes to your brain while your olfactory senses are in overdrive. I call it "smelling out the data.")
And my system works in reverse, too. Do you have a problem with weeds in your lawn? Take paperwork about the relative who is giving you the most trouble. This paper is particularly noxious to weeds. Simply put the paper over the weed and keep it in place with a large rock or brick. In, say four to six weeks, the information from the ancestor will have killed off the weed.
Have bare spots in your lawn? Make copies of data sheets from one of your good ancestors. Run the copies through the nearest shredder (cross cut preferred) and mix the result with a little canned soda (house brands are OK) and a handful of grass seed. The good vibes from your ancestor's sheets will have grass growing in about three weeks. Water often.
Finally, if you have a problem with a particular weed in your garden, simply get thee to your local library. Did you know they have books that have nothing to do with genealogy? I thought not. At any rate, ask the friendly person behind the desk for a book on weed identification. You'll find the answer to your problem there.
Suppose your geneaholic isn't a gardener. That's OK; you can still combine genealogy with other hobbies or even professions to benefit both. Here are some examples:
Genealogy and fiction writing: Some of a geneaholic's research on his or her ancestors will make dandy stories you may be able to sell. The ability to write fiction also helps fill in data on your ancestors.
Genealogy and cooking: Everyone has an ancestor who was a bad apple; make applesauce out of him or her. This gives you something to eat while trying to decipher census forms from 1790.
Genealogy and Mechanical Engineering: Every truthful engineer will eventually own up to something called the "fudge factor." This is a little something engineers add to their equations to make them come out right. Now there's something you could really use while researching a line.
Genealogy and Dermatology: This will be especially useful when a geneholic has an itch to travel 400 miles to some small town's records office. They have a salve for that!
© H. DAVID MORROW