By H. David Morrow FuzzyGem@att.net
(Previously published in MISSING LINKS Vol. 8, No. 1, 6 January 2003) http://www.petuniapress.com/
My GW (geneaholic wife) wants to return the gift I gave her for Christmas. Like most married men, I do not find this an unusual circumstance. This particular gift, however, was both noteworthy and unique. I found an ancestor she didn't know she had and gave her the information as a Christmas gift. I even gift wrapped all the paperwork and hung it from the mantel.
"But," she wailed, "he doesn't fit with the work I've already done." ("Fit" is usually the problem when a husband buys a gift for his wife; unless the present is a car or a house.)
"He must." I replied. "He's got the same last name; was born in the same county and state as most of the others; even served in the Civil War. His parents had the same last name. I found it in the 1865 Census."
"HA," she said with appropriate disdain, "Now I know you made it all up. There was no census in 1865!"
Here she was disparaging my library labors all because of some typo. "I guess I meant 1860."
She squinched her nose and furrowed her brow. "Did you check in the 1840 Census? Was he listed as a child in the 1850 Census?"
I hadn't checked, of course. I was so happy to find Jascha, son of Clem and Clarice who served in the Ohio 746th regiment, that I did not bother to look back. Maybe she was right.
"I know." My eyes brightened and I smiled trying to save the situation. "Clem was out planting the north forty and discovered the baby near the back fence. He took it home to Clarice and they named it Jascha (from the ancient Sanskrit, meaning "found by the fence on the north forty"). That's why there's no birth certificate."
"No dice," she growled. "Clem only farmed 35 acres. I have a copy of the deed to prove it."
By now I'm thinking really hard -- and sweating, too. "Sure, but I'll bet his neighbors had more land. So in order to have everyone think he was as good as the Joneses (the neighbors) he called his place the North Forty."
"I suppose you checked deeds and plat maps to figure that out."
I could see I wasn't getting anywhere. My biggest gift was going down the drain fast. "Well, no. We'd have to go to Ohio to do that. But I'm sure Jascha is one of your ancestors."
"I don't think so. You'd better return him. Someone else is probably looking for Jascha."
Now, I really had a problem. How does one return somebody else's ancestor? Where does one return somebody else's ancestor?
I could go to the library with all the paperwork. But they wouldn't give me my money back because I lost the receipts. I can hear the head librarian now: "Without a receipt, I have no way of knowing WHICH library this stuff came from!" (Sounds just like the manager of DollarMart when I tried to return GW's Christmas gift last year.)
Maybe eBay. "For sale: One Ancestor. Jascha, son of Clem and Clarice, born 1842 near Sandusky, Ohio. Honorable Service in the Civil War; discharged due to missing toe as the result of a rifle loading accident." Great so far, but what do I charge for the ancestor? How can I be sure I'll get paid?
How about putting an ad in Missing Links? Sure, but they probably want some sort of proof that I have the right to sell Jascha. Just 'cause I found him doesn't mean I can sell him!
There's always the Ohio Genealogical Society. They could find Jascha's heirs. But instead of paying me, I'd probably have to pay their dues just to run the ad in their publication.
I could call the geneaholics in Salt Lake City. Surely they must know of someone looking for Jascha. They'll probably post it on their Web site and someone will claim him. But that doesn't get my money back.
Perhaps I'll just keep Jascha like I kept the sweater from the DollarMart last year. He can be another tax deduction. (Hmmm. I wonder if Jascha would qualify? After all, I am housing a homeless ancestor.)
Regardless of how I return GW's gift, I still have to get her another one. Let's see. What does a geneaholic really need? I sure won't try to find any of her relatives again.
There's a few new genealogy computer programs, but I don't know which one will transfer the information from the one she's using now. Just my luck; I'd pick a program she'd have to re-enter all the data in. That'd be as welcome as finding a deceased Santa in your living room. (How does one find Santa's heirs?)
I'll just give her a set of loose-leaf notebooks; some three-hole punch paper and a new black cartridge for her printer. Gift wrapped, naturally. And this time I'll keep the receipts, in case they don't fit.
© H. DAVID MORROW