"Old Genealogists never die ... They just lose their census."
A Genealogists Prayer #1
Lord, help me dig into the past
And sift the sands of time
That I might find the roots that made
This family tree of mine.

Lord, help me trace the ancient roads
On which my fathers trod,
And led them through so many lands
To find our present sod.

Lord, help me find an ancient book
Or dusty manuscript,
That's safely hidden now away
In some forgotten crypt.

Lord, let it bridge the gap that haunts
My soul when I can't find,
The missing link between some name
That ends the same as mine.

Dear Cousin,

In response to your letter, I am sorry to inform you that your grandpa died some time back and the stuff you asked about is not available. The personal property the family did not want was sold at an estate sale. All those boxes of junk did not interest a single buyer. We were able to salvage several binders for the kids homework after we sent all the paper to the incinerator. The kids really complained about having to lug all that paper and pictures of those ugly old folks to the dumpster.

An old family Bible from the 1840s did bring $5.00. The one from the 1870s did not sell so I gave it to a friend to take to the flea market. There were also a bunch of floppy disks that we were able to reformat and download some games for the kids to play on their new computer. The two aunts you asked about are also dead.  They were such a delight and could talk all day long about the things papa had written about.  I remember them saying something about some records that were copied from two courthouses that later burned.
Neither ever wrote down a single thing.

The letter you referred to was one he typed up and sent to lots of folks who wrote him. He laughed about them never getting any of his hard work as well as his Fathers and Grandfather who was in the Civil War.  He guarded all the information carefully to the bitter end. I wish I could remember some of the things to help you, but I was bored to tears listening to them talk about the family members who were in the civil war and those silly pieces of paper he showed so proudly.  I vaguely remember they had some beeswax seals and something to do with the land grants that were destroyed in the courthouse fires.

I wish I could remember the story about his grandfathers evening with Jefferson Davis when he was on the run. There are also some very juicy stories that were handed down, but I don't remember them very well. Another thing I remember after he got sick was some fellow calling him and he agreed to let him come down and copy all his material. 
He told him he would call him back when he felt better. Papa mentioned something about letting the society the man was from have all his work since nobody in the family cared anything about a bunch of people who had been dead for over 200 years. Papa died the next week.

I am so sorry papa and the two generations wasted so much of their life on such worthless hobbies and I hope your family will follow something more interesting. We enjoy bingo and bowling very much here in Pleasantville. I really enjoyed hearing from a long lost cousin and would like to hear back if you find anything important. The kids need the computer for their games and I need to go watch "Survivor".

I saw my friend at the flea market a couple of weeks ago and he said he threw the 1870s Bible in the trash after nobody was interested in it. He said he got an offer for fifty cents for it, but would rather burn it than give it away. He seemed to be having a lot of success with some very nice Elvis paintings at his booth though.

I Am My Own Grandpa

Many years ago when I was twenty three, I got married to a widow who was pretty as could be
This widow had a grown-up daughter, who had hair of red
My father fell in love with her, and soon the two were wed.

This made my dad my son-in-law, and changed my very life
My daughter was now my mother, for she was my father's wife
To complicate the matters worse, although it brought me joy
I soon became the father, of a bouncing baby boy.

My little boy then became, a brother-in-law to dad
And so became my uncle, though it made me very sad
For if he was my uncle, then that also made him a brother
To the widow's grown-up daughter, who of course was my step-mother.

Dad's wife then had a son, who kept them on the run
And he became my grandson, for he was my daughter's son
My wife is now my mother's mother, and it makes me really blue
Because, although she is my wife, she is my grandma too.

If my wife is my grandmother, then I am her grandchild
And every time I think of it, it simply drives me wild
For now I have become, the strangest case you ever saw
As the husband of my grandmother, I am my own grandpa!

- Co-written in 1948 by Moe Jaffe and Dwight Latham
Ain't This the Truth!

I started out calmly tracing my tree,
To see if I could find the makings of me
And all that I had was Great-grandfathers name,
Not knowing his wife or from where he came.

I chased him across a long line of states,
And came up with pages and pages of dates
When all put together it made me forlorn,
And proved poor Great-grandpa had never been born

One day I was sure the truth I had found,
Determined to turn this whole thing around
I looked up the record of one Uncle Gunn,
But I found the old man to be younger than his son

Then when my hopes were fast growing dim,
I came across records that must have been him
All the facts I collected made me quite sad,
Dear old Great-grandfather was never a dad

I think someone is trying to pull my own leg,
Because I'm not so sure I wasn't hatched from an egg
After hundreds of dollars I've spent on my tree,
I can't help but wonder if I'm really me.
Census Taker

It was the first day of census and all through the land,
The pollster was ready with a black book in hand
He mounted his horse for a long dusty ride,
His book and some quills were tucked close by his side

A long winding ride down a road barely there,
Toward the smell of fresh bread wafting up through the air
The woman was tired with lines on her face,
And wisps of brown hair she tucked back into place

She gave him some water as they sat at the table,
And she answered his questions the best she was able
He asked about children...yes, she had quite a few,
The oldest was twenty, the youngest not quite two

She held up a toddler with cheeks round and red,
His sister she whispered, was napping in bed
She noted each person who lived there with pride,
And she felt the faint stirrings of the wee one inside

He noted the sex, the color, the age...,
The marks from the quill soon filled up the page
At the number of children, she nodded her head,
And he saw her lips quiver for the three that were dead

Their places of birth she "never forgot",
Was it Kansas? Or Utah? Or Oregon...or not?
They came from Scotland of that she was clear,
But she wasn't quite sure just how long they'd been here

They spoke of employment, of schooling and such,
They could read some and write some, though really not much
When the questions were answered, his job there was done,
So he mounted his horse and he rode toward the sun

We can almost imagine his voice loud and clear,
"May God Bless you all for another ten years"
Now picture a time warp....its now you and me,
As we search for the people in our family tree

We squint at the census and scroll down so slow,
As we search for that entry from long, long ago
Could they only imagine on that long ago day,
That the entries they made would affect us this way?

If they knew, would they wonder at the yearning we feel,
And the searching that makes them so increasingly real
We can hear if we listen the words they impart,
Through their blood in our veins and their voice in our heart.

- written by Darlene Caryl-Stevens
Genealogist Prayer #2

Genealogy is my pastime, I shall not stray
It maketh me to lie down and examine half-buried tombstones
It leadeth me into still courthouses
It restoreth my ancestral knowledge
It leadeth me into the paths of census records and ship passenger lists for my surnames sake
Yeah, though I wade through the shadows of research libraries and microfilm readers
I shall fear no discouragement, for a strong urge is with me
Thy curiosity and motivation, they comfort me
It demandeth preparation and storage space for the acquisition of countless documents
It anointeth my head with burning the midnight oil
My family group sheets runneth over
Surely, birth, marriage and death record dates shall follow me all the days of my life
And I shall dwell in the house of the Family History Center forever

Alas, my elusive kinsman, you've led me on quite a chase
I thought I'd found your courthouse, but the Yankees burned down the place
You always kept your bags packed, although you had no fame
And just for the fun of it, twice you changed your name
You never owed any man, or at least I found no bills
In spite of eleven offspring, you never left a will
They say our name is from Europe, came state side on a ship
Either they lost the passenger list, or granddad gave them the slip
I'm the only one looking, another searcher I can't find
I pray that this is his father's name, or I'll soon go out of my mind
They said you had a headstone, in some shady plot
I've been there twenty times, but I can't find the lot
You never wrote a letter, and your bible we can't find
It's probably in the attic, out of sight and out of mind
You first married a Smith, and just to set the tone
The other four were Sarah's, and everyone one a Jones
You cost me two fortunes, one of which I did not have
My wife, my house, my dog.....and I really miss that Lab
But somewhere you slipped up ole boy, because you left a track
And if I don't find you this year, well.......next year I'll be back

- Original poem by Wayne Hand, 1999
Genealogy Quips-

My family coat of arms ties in the back...is that normal?

I looked into my family tree and found out I was a sap...

A family tree can wither if nobody tends to it's roots.

Genealogists are time travelers.

Only a genealogist regards a step backwards as progress.

Genealogists live in the past lane.
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