by H. David Morrow FuzzyGem@worldnet.att.net
(Previously published in MISSING LINKS Vol. 7, No. 17, 28 April 2002) http://www.petuniapress.com/
Conjecture seems to be a large part of genealogy. My wife spends hours trying to figure out why one of her relatives, a 17-year-old female, moved to another town with four of her younger siblings after her widowed father remarried more than a century ago.
"Maybe the new wife just didn't want to put up with her new husband's kids in addition to her own," she opined.
(It is incumbent upon a spouse at least to acknowledge such musings, even if the spouse has no interest in, or memory of, the party in question. Besides, listening mutely to these ideas is equivalent to not answering the dangerous question: "Does this make me look fat?")
"That's a possibility," I replied. "Still, a 17-year-old taking care of four siblings on her own -- how do you suppose she supported them?"
"Hmmm. The father felt guilty and sent them money?" she asked.
"That's a possibility," I replied, while my brain tried to sort out the messages it was receiving simultaneously from my wife and the TV weather. Instead, the weather report was remembered as "Family Cold Front with a low of 4 and high of 17." The older I get, the less my brain can keep data from being mixed together.
I thought about the guesswork that necessarily goes on when there is no recorded information available. Now, I have come up with my own theory that could solve a number of genealogical problems: Reincarnation.
Reincarnation is the answer to:
"How did my g-g-g-grandfather get from the East coast as an 80-year-old to the West coast as a 10-year-old between 1870 and 1880?"
"Why did my third cousin, two times removed, have the same name as my second cousin, 12 times removed?"
"Were the genes of my g-g-g-g-grandfather's step brother (of horse thief fame) passed on to my step cousin from Minneapolis, who is currently serving time in the state correctional facility for grand theft auto?"
It seems that genealogists never considered that some of their deceased relatives could have come back as someone else. But that is as good a guess as anything else I've heard. Absent information to the contrary, I will continue to believe that some of the people in my wife's thousand plus names are simply the same person who came back. I even know why.
Long before libraries and the advent of microfilm, but after the invention of moveable type, our forebears knew some of their tenacious heirs would try to find out what kind of lives they led. Those ancestors with something to hide, probably most of them, wanted to make such inquiries as difficult as possible.
So they decided to come back every so often with the same names and foibles. That would keep searchers of family lore confused and befuddled. For example, those illegitimate children who seem magically to appear are probably just reincarnated relatives from earlier generations.
I know a number of genealogists will dispute this theory. "You can't prove it," they will say. To which I will reply, "You can't disprove it, either."