Genealogy Poetry and Prose

Genealogy Poetry and Prose


I have read with pleasure a lot of different poems and articles, and thought that others might enjoy them, so here they are! If you, kind reader, have an article or poem that relates to genealogy, please feel free to send it to me for inclusion here.


"From those women and men
of great spirit, intelligence, and strength
who came before us and said 'yes' to life,
may we embody the best of their qualities.
In gratitude for their lives lived,
let us now continue to build a world
based on love, and on our inherited wisdom
about the oneness of the Creator and of the Creation
in all its fabulous diversity of nations, races religions, species.
As sure as the Oreckovskys and families like them were
pioneer people with vision and courage in changing times,
so can we follow in their footsteps, living our lives
in awe of all that has come before us,
and in devotion to each other and our
precious global living community,
knowing who we are."

Courtesy of Len Traubman, DDS, Editor


Family Tree
I climbed my family tree and found it was not worth the climb;
And so, I scampered down, convinced it was a waste of time.
Some branches of my tree, I found, were rotten to the core.
And, all the tree was full of sap and hung with nuts galore!
I used to brag of my kinfolk, before I made the climb,
but truth compels me not to tell of those not worth a dime.
And I beg friends who boast aloud of their ancestors great,
To climb their family tree and learn of those who weren't so straight.
I've learned what family trees are like, I've seen them growing 'round.
They're like a 'tater' vine because, the best are underground!
Author Unknown


Just Folks

I am like him, so they say,
   Who was dead before I came.
Cheeks and mouth and eyes of gray
   Have been fashioned much the same.

I am like her, so they say,
   Who was dead ere I was born,
And I walk the self-same way
   On the paths her feet have worn.

There is that within my face
   And the way I hold my head
Which seems strangely to replace
   Those who long have joined the dead.

Thus across the distance far
   In the body housing me
Both my great-grandparents are
   Kept alive in memory.
Edgar A. Guest 1934



The way I walk I see my mother walking,
The feet secure and firm upon the ground.
The way I talk I hear my daughter talking
And hear my mother's echo in the sound.
The way she thought I find myself now thinking,
The generations linking
In a firm continuum of mind.
The bridge of immortality I'm walking,
The voice before me echoing behind.
by Dorothy Hilliard Moffatt

Courtesy: BettyAnn von Wallmenich


Your tombstone stands among the rest;
Neglected and alone.
The name and date are chiseled out
On polished, marbled stone.
It reaches out to all who care
It is too late to mourn.
You did not know that I exist
You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you
In flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse
Entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled
One hundred years ago
Spreads out among the ones you left
Who would have loved you so.
I wonder if you lived and loved,
I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot,
And come to visit you.
Author Unknown
Submitted by Bob Kelly


Why Me?

Why me,
This is a tedious task, much work.
Not a great tree, my family,
Not any kind of tree,
A spindly twig....
A stunted sapling of little importance,
No forest giant we.

A pause

Ethereal whispers
Persuasive, soft and still.
"Daughter, if you don't remember us,
Who will?

Dot Stutter,
Victoria, BC. Canada, 1996


A tourist in Vienna is going through a graveyard and all of a sudden he hears some music. No one is around, so he starts searching for the source.
He finally locates the origin and finds it is coming from a grave with a headstone that reads: Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770- 1827. Then he realizes that the music is the Ninth Symphony and it is being played backward! Puzzled, he leaves the graveyard and persuades a friend to return with him. By the time they arrive back at the grave, the music has changed. This time it is the Seventh Symphony, but like the previous piece, it is being played backward. Curious, the men agree to consult a music scholar.
When they return with the expert, the Fifth Symphony is playing, again backward. The expert notices that the symphonies are being played in the reverse order in which they were composed, the 9th, then the 7th, then the 5th.
By the next day the word has spread and a throng has gathered around the grave. They are all listening to the Second Symphony being played backward. Just then the graveyard's caretaker ambles up to the group. Someone in the crowd asks him if he has an explanation for the music.
"Don't you get it?" the caretaker said. "He's decomposing!"



The emigrants kneel in the old parish Church.
For the last time, it may be forever:
They scarcely had known that it would be so hard.
The ties of a lifetime to sever.

For the last time they look on the ivy-clad walls.
For the last time they hear the bells ringing.
'Twas there they were married, and now to that church
How fondly their sad hearts are clinging!

They listen once more to the good Rector's voice,
They will try to remember his teaching:
And hope they may never forget what he says,
As they look in his face while's he preaching.

That voice they have heard by the bed of the sick-
That face they have seen by the dying-
At the altar, the font, and the newly dug grave
The means of salvation supplying.

For the last time they stand where their forefathers names
They read on the headstones and crosses:
There are newly cut names: and others so old.
They are covered by lichens and mosses.

Then a last look they take at a green little mound,
Where one of their children is sleeping.
And gather a daisy that grows at the head-
Then turn away silently weeping.

The neighbours are waiting to bid them "God Speed"
To think of them each one professing-
At the gate of the churchyard the old Rector stands
To give them his fatherly blessing.

He placed in their hands the best of all gifts,
A Bible and Prayer book, at parting:
They could not say much, but he knew what they felt-
To their eyes the warm tear-drops were starting.

"Keep these in your heart" as he gave them, he said,
"And trust to the cross of Christ only:
Then the Lord will be with you wherever you go,
And then you need never feel lonely."

Author unknown - Courtesy of: Gail Escalante

Daddy's Hands

Visions of my daddy's hands linger in my mind.
His hands were wrought with hard work and daily struggles;
But were diverse in their ability and use.
They are sorely missed by many, but especially his first born, me.

As a child, his hands...
Caressed his mother's for a loving touch;
Crawled on the wooden floors of home;
Played in the dirt of the North Carolina mountains;
Closely held things that pleased him;
Pushed away things he didn't like;
Attempted to touch things that could hurt;
Wiped away tears that came from fear or pain;
Proudly carried a tin lunch pail to school;
Firmly held a pencil to practice his ABC's and arithmetic;
Wrote with chalk on a well-worn blackboard of slate;
Turned the pages of his textbooks;
Combed his red and curly hair;
Washed his fair and freckled face;
Buttoned up his shirt;
Snapped up his overalls;
Drew up his socks;
Laced, with pride, his newly half-soled shoes;
Pulled a warm quilt up to his chin in Winter;
Hid green bean shells under his plate;
Peeled and pared an apple with his pocket knife;
Delighted in playing in the cold water of a mountain stream;
Eagerly held biscuits laden with butter and honey;
Peeled the skin of his Christmas orange;
Happened to be the eldest male hands of his parents' children;
Were required, after 4th grade, to leave childhood behind;
Assumed tasks of a grown man.

As a man, his hands...
Used many a hammer and many more nails;
Learned, from his father, to measure a tree for it's board feet;
Tossed feed to the farm animals;
Cleaned the stalls of horses and cattle;
Opened and closed many a gate;
Controlled a plow behind a cantankerous mule;
Knew well a hoe, a shovel, a saw and an ax;
Signed up to join the U. S. Navy during WWII;
Held the hands of the one he would marry;
Placed, at age 21, a ring on the finger of his new bride;
Labored long and hard at whatever task was set before him;
Adeptly drove cars and trucks of many makes and models;
Bled, when working in the frigid winter air;
Played silly tricks on friends and family;
Gingerly removed eggs from the chicken's nest;
Found no job too menial or too difficult;
Made gestures when telling a tall tale;

Placed fence posts in smelly liquid tar;
Held the pitchfork that chased away an angry bull;
Carried groceries over a mile in deep snow;
Changed tires on cars and trucks;
Placed many a cashew in his mouth;
"Attempted" to play a fiddle when we were snowed in;
Smelled of sawdust and tobacco;
Pumped gasoline into the tractor;
Loosened his "bothersome" necktie;
Turned potatoes, frying in an iron skillet, over an open campfire;
Carried Christmas trees laden with snow into the basement to thaw;
Repaired many things that were broken;
Applied paint or paper to a needy wall;
Figured, on any paper available, ways to get ahead;
Paid for many tracts of land and homes;
Knew, by touch, whether a steak was medium or medium-well done;
Placed money in the bank for rainy days;
Emanated confidence with those that shook his hand.

As a father, his hands...
Proudly held his first born daughter, me;
Lifted me up to touch the ceiling in the kitchen;
Securely held me while bouncing me on his knee;
Held me gently, as I slept in his lap, as he plowed;
Controlling the Ford tractor all the while;
Spanked really hard when discipline was needed;
Picked me up and carried me everywhere he went;
Lovingly made a swing on the crossbar of the clothesline;
Thoughtfully spoiled me with candy, 5 cent Cokes and ice cream;
Pitched a baseball in the back yard;
Bought a bicycle, a sled, and then my first car;
Paid for tires when I was too proud to ask for help;
Slipped money in my pocket while whispering not to tell;
Eagerly became the hands of a loving grandfather;
Tenderly held his first granddaughter, then, his first grandson;
Never knew the touch of his second grandson,
Flipped open his wallet to show off the pictures of his grandchildren.

At the end of his days, Daddy's hands were...
Held in my hands, in a loving caress;
Frail and weak, mere phantoms of what they once were;
Conveying his great love for me, his first born child;
Needing my touch as much as I needed his;
Lingering with that last precious touch in life;
Waving good-bye for the very last time;
Praying to be reunited again in heaven above.

If you can hear me, "I love you Daddy."  This is just for you from me.
by Wanda Harrell Stalnaker
September 23, 1997
In tribute to Billie Harrell, 25 Jan 1926 - 22 Sep 1977


Nothing Is Forever

Through the trees, haunting whispers come from the past,
Saying, "Nothing is forever.  Things will not last."
The Rountree plantation was one of quite a grand scale,
Where all manner of living occupied every hill and dale.
Gone is the family, the house and all of the contents,
Along with the barns, the sheds, and even the fence.
The noises of those that lived days past are silent evermore,
As are the sounds associated with daily living and chores.
No one sits under the shade of an ancient oak tree,
Escaping the heat of summer and praying for a cool breeze.
There is no longer a table to set with dishes and silverware.
Alas, the table is gone and so is each and every chair.
Forever gone are the children's voices squealing in delight;
The laughter being replaced by sad stillness and quiet.
The kitchen is gone and no sweet smells permeate the air.
There are no busy hands that have apples and potatoes to pare.
Gone is the sound of horse galloping down the road
And wagons creaking while bearing their heavy load.
There is no longer the sound of a hammer hitting a nail,
Nor the thud as someone drops the wooden milking pail.
The sound of footfalls on the stairs are heard no more,
Nor the noise of a child hurrying, causing the slam of a door.
All the sounds of the master, the family and the slaves
Have gone on, each and everyone, to their earthly graves.
There is no longer a fire crackling on a cold winter's night,
Nor candles and lanterns giving forth their glowing light.
The birds now build nests in the trees that weren't there when
The plantation was occupied by the Rountree's and their children.
Their sweat, their tears, their joys, their pain
And all their labors seem now to have been all in vain,
For the fields that existed once, are now covered in trees of pine,
Making even the boundaries nearly impossible to define.
Gone is the Rountree plantation, gone forever hence,
With only one's mind to provide a faint and fleeting glimpse.
The rain still quenches the same thirsty ground,
But gone forever are the people and all of their sounds.
The only remnant that for over a hundred years remained
Was a tombstone inscribed with Daniel Rountree's name.
As Daniel's bones rested, a thief of our modern age found
Daniel's tombstone that had been placed in the Rountree burying 
So, now is gone that single remnant of him that had remained the 
The stone inscribed with Daniel Rountree's name.
Again through the trees, the haunting whispers come from the past,
Saying, "Nothing is forever.  Things will not last."
Dedicated to Daniel and Fannie Nelson Rountree, and their descendants, 
of Edgefield County, SC.  Daniel, 1790-1871, was the son of Capt. 
Richardson and Mary Mildred Hart Rountree.

Courtesy of Wanda, for this page.


Until Death Do Us Part

“Until death do us part,” were the words William Herrall and Celia Garland said,
On the day after Christmas in 1872, the day that they were wed.
Near Big Rock Creek, beneath the mountain called “The Roan”,
Is where they reared their family and made their home.
They would, in time, own about a thousand acres of land,
But the original tract was bought from Bill’s parents, Jane and Sam.
They worked from before dawn to after dark, with ever so little rest,
To make the Herrall farm, of Mitchell County, one of the very best.
They increased their acreage, by buying adjoining small farms,
While they lived in a log cabin, they built outbuildings; three barns;
A smokehouse, to cure meat, with a dry second floor,
Where the onions, leather britches and dried mountain herbs were stored;
A springhouse where, from the mountain rocks, flowed water cold and sweet,
Into troughs where perishable things were cooled like milk, butter and fresh meat;
And fences, of which some were fashioned of wood and some were built of rock,
To section off areas, for the fields and all of their livestock.
On the sunny side of the mountain, Bill grew crops of rye, oats and wheat,
While Celia grew, in her garden, things like corn, ‘taters, beans and beets.
Bill was recognized by the black, broad-brimmed, hat that he wore,
When he road to town or just down the road to the general store.
Meticulous was he, with the ledger that he dutifully kept,
Recording the barters and the money he saved, made or spent.
Bill wasn’t trusting, where banks were concerned, and ‘twas said,
He kept money in a sock ‘neath the mattress of their old rope bed.
Celia made quilts, from scraps of fabric, to keep her family warm,
When outside there raged wind and snow from a Winter storm.
When she washed their clothes to rid them of stains and dirt,
She scrubbed away on a washboard until her poor hands hurt.
Celia had blue eyes and thick tresses of curly, red hair,
A fair complexion, and a jawline that was square.
Everything was from scratch that Celia had to prepare,
When the table she laid, with hearty country fare.
It was a big task to keep her family well-fed,
But she did it daily with iron skillets of fried chicken; pones of cornbread;
Country ham with red-eye gravy on biscuits as big as your hand;
Tall jam cakes smothered with apple butter or wild strawberry jam;
Freshly churned butter; wild honey; big pots of beans and ‘taters;
Fried apples; sawmill gravy; and sometimes, fried green tomaters;
The children and grandchildren just loved it when Celia baked,
Their favorite, a big old-fashioned gingerbread cake.
To wash it all down, there was coffee, hot and robust,
Or a glass of cold buttermilk - one or the other was a must.
To obtain security, for themselves and their children, was their goal.
So, Bill and Celia labored each day, with body, heart, mind and soul.
Twenty-five years passed - the farm prospered and their family grew,
When they decided to build a big house, brand spanking new.
It was built to last for years and Herrall generations to come.
“Best built in the county,” was the boast when the work was all done.
They used clapboard of sturdy poplar and wood shingles for their new home.
As a foundation, under each corner of it, they laid stacks of fieldstone.
There was a front porch, where mud and snow could be stomped off boots ‘n shoes,
And older folk could rest a spell, tell tall tales and swap their news.
It had narrow window lights, one on each side of the heavy front door;
A wide hallway, where company could hang the coats that they wore;
A kitchen porch, where the womenfolk could each take their turn,
At dashing fresh cream into butter, in an old wooden churn;
Three chimneys; fireplaces in each room to provide warmth for everyone;
Large windows, through which came light and warm rays from the sun;
A sturdy staircase that led to the rooms on the second floor;
A deep cupboard that held dishes, pottery and canned vegetables galore;
A desk rigged on pulley, where Bill could record transactions of the day,
Then when finished, lift everything up and out of harm’s way;
A cast iron Home Comfort range with chrome trim, all shiny and bright;
Kerosene lamps and lanterns to illuminate the night;
And a meal room where conrmeal and flour were stored in large bins,
There also, were shelves for spices like cloves, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon.
Neither Bill, nor Celia, was ever known to shirk
From the responsibilities of family or tedious, hard work.
When the grain was thrashed, or there were fields to plow or till,
Celia carried heavy baskets of food to the hired hands working with Bill.
The children they had, before building the big house, numbered ten
They were all born within the walls of their little log cabin.
Then one more was added, their family once again grew
When the last child was born in the big house, when Celia was forty-two.
The clock on the mantle tick-tocked away the time - day in, day out.
Each day was busy and full, about that, there is no doubt.
Then four days before Bill would have turned sixty-one,
He breathed his last breath, as his hard work on earth was done.
Over his final resting place, stood a shed, to protect the grave from rain,
And a simple granite tombstone, upon which was chiseled his name.
Upon it is an epitaph which reads, “Rest Father, in quiet sleep,
While friends, in sorrow, over thee weep.”
The homeplace was passed down to son Wilder and then in 1942,
He sold it, and moved to Pennsylvania with Martha, his wife, their children, and Celia too.
The skeleton of the big house now stands empty and still.
There’s no company, no children, no Celia, nor Bill.
The front door lays rotting on the damp, cold ground,
Where the wind will never again catch it to make a slamming sound.
No one rests or stomps their feet on the front porch, for it is no longer there,
And dangling, without purpose, are the well-worn stairs.
In what was the kitchen, there’s no longer the fragrance of gingerbread or noisy clatter.
Gone, forever, are the voices of the grown-ups and the children’s constant chatter.
Standing yet are the chimneys and fireplaces, with their bricks now cold and stark,
For never again will they witness a warming blaze, not even a spark.
As for the smokehouse, the rock foundation is all there is left to see.
Gone is the first floor and hams, also, the second floor and the catnip dried for tea.
Never again will visitors or kinfolk hang their coats in the hall,
Nor will photographs of family hang on the parlor’s walls.
The roof is still there, but has begun to bow
From neglect and the weight of a hundred years of Winter’s snows.
The big windows are shattered much like Bill’s and Celia’s plan,
For their children, and their children, to live upon their beloved land.
The farm that once flourished is now so ghostly quiet.
As time passes, night turns into day and another day becomes another night.
The years have come and gone, seventy-six, since Bill Herrall died,
Believing that his dear Celia would be buried by his side.
Neither one of them ever dreamed the words they said in 1872 would truly come to pass,
Or that the plans they so carefully made for their family, wouldn’t last.
In 1945, Celia was laid to rest in Maryland, far from her Bill and the home she knew,
So the words they spoke so long ago really did come true.
“Until death do us part,” were the words Bill and Celia said,
On that day so long ago, when they were wed.
Now, is that the wind from the mountains, or is it the sighs of Celia and Bill,
As they look down upon their land and their homeplace, now forever still?

by Wanda Harrell Stalnaker
January 25, 1998



This story in verse is dedicated to my great grandparents, Wm. M. Herrall and Celia Garland, and father, Billie Harrell, who was born in the big house on 25 January 1926, 72 years ago today.
It is interesting to note that a complete generation of Harrell’s was never born in either the log cabin, nor the big house. With the exception of their last born child, a son, all of the children of Celia and Bill were born in their log cabin. Then all of the children of Wilder and Martha Street Harrell, with the exception of their last born, a son, were born in the big house.
Another interesting fact is that the last name on Bill’s tombstone is spelled with an “E” - Herrall. On Celia’s tombstone, the last name is spelled with an “A” - Harrell. All the descendants of Bill and Celia Herrall, spell the name with an “A”.
Leather britches: Dried green beans, usually strung on a string and hung up to dry.
Sawmill gravy: Thick gravy made with milk and flour.
Red-eye gravy: Clear gravy made with water after the ham is fried.
‘taters: potatoes
tomaters: tomatoes

I hold in my hands a treasure so rare,
I close my eyes and imagine I'm there,
When she wrote each name with care,
Not knowing with me some day she'd share.

Could she have known what a jewel it would be?
That it would be something I waited to see?
That one hundred years later the Bible I'd hold,
That in it's pages more that God's story is told.

I imagine she was proud of her family,
For what greater gift could there be,
Did she imagine the family to come?
That I would be from the family of her son?

This family heirloom I will handle with care,
So that in another hundred years it will be there,
For my great great grandchildren may it be,
A gift they are searching for to add to the family tree.

By Kelly Taft Krause upon receipt of the Swan/Perry Family Bible given to me by my cousin, Eileen Witherow Mitchell (March 1998)
(Kelly graciously permitted this site to present it to you, my readers.)


                          STRANGERS IN THE BOX

                 Come, look with me inside this drawer,
                       In this box I've often seen,
                At the pictures, black and white,
                     Faces proud, still, serene.
                      I wish I knew the people,
                    These strangers in the box,
                Their names and all their memories
                      Are lost among my socks.
                  I wonder what their lives were like,
                    How did they spend their days?
                  What about their special times?
                       I'll never know their ways.
                    If only someone had taken time
                  To tell who, what, where, or when,
                      These faces of my heritage
                       Would come to life again.
                      Could this become the fate
                    Of the pictures we take today?
                       The faces and the memories
                      Someday to be passed away?
                      Make time to save your stories,
                  Seize the opportunity when it knocks,
                   Or someday you and yours could be
                        The strangers in the box.

Pamela Harazim



...when you brake for libraries.
...if you get locked in a library overnight and you never even notice.
...when you hyperventilate at the sight of an old cemetery.
...if you'd rather browse in a cemetery than a shopping mall.
...when you think every home should have a microfilm reader.
...if you'd rather read census schedules than a good book.
...when you know every town clerk in your state by name.
...if town clerks lock the doors when they see you coming.
...when you're more interested in what happened in 1697 than 1997.
...if you store your clothes under the bed and your closet is carefully stacked with notebooks and journals.
...if you can pinpoint Harrietsham, Hawkhurst, and Kent on a map of England, but can't locate Topeka, Kansas.
...when all your correspondence begins, "Dear Cousin,"
...if you've traced every one of your ancestral lines back to Adam and Eve, have it all fully documented, and still don't want to quit.


"There are two lasting gifts we can give our children. 
          One is roots, the other wings."
                                               (author unknown)


And another one:

"You give your children two things: you give them roots and you give them wings." ~ Anna Tochter

Courtesy of: Megan Drury


Our Ancestors

If you could see your ancestors All standing in a row Would you be proud of them or not Or don't you really know? Some strange discoveries are made In climbing family trees And some of them you know, do not Particularly please. If you could see your ancestors All standing in a row, There might be some of them perhaps You wouldn't care to know. But there's another question, which Requires a different view. IF you could meet your ancestors Would they be proud of YOU? Author Unknown Courtesy of Shanna Jones


Grandma Climbed The Family Tree

There’s been a change in Grandma, we’ve noticed as of late
She’s always reading history, or jotting down some date.
She’s tracing back the family, we’ll all have pedigrees,
Grandma’s got a hobby, she’s Climbing Family Trees
.... Poor Grandpa does the cooking, and now, or so he states, he even has to wash the cups and the dinner plates. Well, Grandma can’t be bothered, she’s busy as a bee, Compiling genealogy for the Family Tree. She has not time to baby-sit, the curtains are a fright. No buttons left on Grandpa’s shirt, the flower bed’s a sight. She’s given up her club work, the serials on TV, The only thing she does nowdays is climb the Family Tree. The mail is all for Grandma, it comes from near and far. Last week she got the proof she needs to join the DAR. A momumental project - to that we all agree, A worthwhile avocation - to climb the Family Tree. There were pioneers and patriots mixed with our kith and kin, Who blazed the paths of wilderness and fought through thick and thin. But none more staunch than Grandma, whose eyes light up with glee, Each time she finds a missing branch for the Family Tree. To some it’s just a hobby, to Grandma it’s much more. She learns the joys and heartaches of those who went before. They loved, they lost, they laughed, they wept -- and now for you and me, They live again in spirit around the Family Tree. At last she’s nearly finished, and we are each exposed. Life will be the same again, this we all suppose. Grandma will cook and sew, serve crullers with our tea. We’ll have her back, just as before that wretched Family Tree.

by Virginia Day McDonald, Macon, GA


Interesting details discovered during the process of indexing the British 1881 Census. (Found in the Ensign magazine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, March 1996, p. 58.)

* The wife, mother, and daughter of James Christmas were all named Mary Christmas

* Frank Guest was listed as a visitor

* Harriet Goodhand was listed as a domestic servant

* The families of William Lovegrove, Henry Dearlove, and William Darling all lived on the same block in Oxfordshire

* A woman named Rose married Robert Garden

* Emma Boatwright married a seaman

* Mr. Thorn lived in Rose Cottage

* Robert Speed, a bus driver and post runner

* Robert Robb, a detective officer

* Phoebe Brain, a scholar

* One woman's birthplace was listed as "in stage coach between Nottingham and Derby"

* John Pounder, a blacksmith

* William Scales, a piano maker

* Herman Hamberger, born in Greece

* Curious occupations: dirt refiner, hoveller, moleskin saver, piano puncher, sparable cutter, spittle maker, tingle maker, and whim driver

* Twin four-year-olds named Peter the Great and William the Conqueror

* Brothers named Seaman and Landsman

* The occupation of three daughters was entered as "They toil not, neither do they spin"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Elusive Ancestor

I went searching for an ancestor. I cannot find him still.
He moved around from place to place and did not leave a will.
He married where a courthouse burned. He mended all his fences.
He avoided any man who came to take the U.S. Census.

He always kept his luggage packed, this man who had no fame.
And every 20 years or so, this rascal changed his name.
His parents came from Europe. They should be upon some list
of passengers to U.S.A., but somehow they got missed.

And no one else in this world is searching for this man.
So, I play geneasolitaire to find him if I can.
I'm told he's buried in a plot, with tombstone he was blessed;
but the weather took engraving, and some vandals took the rest.

He died before the county clerks decided to keep records.
No Family Bible has emerged, in spite of all my efforts.
To top it off this ancestor, who caused me many groans,
Just to give me one more pain, betrothed a girl named JONES.

by Merrell Kenworthy


The Genealogists Psalm

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 in paths of census records & ship's passenger lists for my surname's sake. Yea, though I walk through the shadows of research libraries & microfilm readers, I shall fear no discouragement. For a strong urge is within me; the curiosity & motivation they comforteth me. It demandeth preparation of storage space for the acquisition of countless documents. It annointeth my head with burning mid-night oil; my family group sheets runneth over. Surely birth, marriage, & death dates shall follow me all the days of my life; And I shall dwell in the house of a family- History seeker forever.

By Wildamae Brestal


A Joke---

Two people talking.
Man: This genealogy looks like a lot of work. Maybe you should hire a professional.
Lady: I called one. He said it could cost several hundred dollars or maybe several thousand.
Lady: However, he did say there was a much easier way to trace your family tree.
Lady: Run for public office!!

Courtesy of: Randall Black
Feb. 26, 1996
Irvine, CA

[Written for my friends in Roots-L for any purpose they may find]


    To My Mother

Dear mother I know thou wilt weep
When of my death thou dost hear
That I am sleeping, the last deep sleep
And thou, my mother was not near

But let this a consolation be
Though on a prisoners bed I died
True and faithful friends were with me
When I crossed the swelling tide

Now my soldiers life is over
With it's many toils and cares
For my country I can do no more
With resignation my fate I bear

My mother for me do not grieve
For it was my country's call
Caused me home and families to leave
And who would not for his Country fall

My mother, I hope some day you'll meet
In heaven your "darling boy Milt"
I shall for you reserve a seat
Bought by the blood of Jesus, spilt

I shall meet you at the gate
A golden harp within my hand
And mother, how long must I wait
To welcome you to that happy land

Poem by Thomas Milton Oakes, Pvt, I Company, 8th Kentucky Mounted Infantry to his mother, Pricilla Kirtley Oakes

"Rest in peace Thomas, I too shall look for you at the gate" John.

Courtsey of John Oakes ->


Murphy's Laws of Family History

The keeper of the vital records you need will just have been insulted by
another genealogist.

Your great-grandfather's obituary states that he died, leaving no issue of

The town clerk you wrote to in desperation, and finally convinced to give
you the information you need, can't write legibly, and doesn't have a
copying machine.

That ancient photograph of four relatives, one of whom is your progenitor,
carries the names of the other three.

Copies of old newspapers have holes which occur only on maiden names.

No one in your family tree ever did anything noteworthy, always rented
property, was never sued, and was never named in wills.

You learned that Great aunt Matilda's executor just sold her life's
collection of family genealogical materials to a flea market dealer
"somewhere in New York City."

Yours is the ONLY last name not found among the three billion in the world
famous Mormon archives in Salt Lake City.

Ink fades and paper deteriorates at a rate inversely proportional to the
value of the data recorded.

The critical link in your family tree is named "Smith."

Courtesy of Ann Sharp ->



            There's a hole inside of me,
            It appeared some time ago...
           the day my mother passed away.
           Tell me, why'd she have to go?

           I've tried to fill the hole up
                with other family,
        and I want to keep her memory alive,
           so I started her family tree.

        My search has brought me many kin
         who've helped to fill that hole,
       but I realize now, there'll always be
            an emptiness in my soul.

        I guess that's just the way it is
         with people and their mothers...
         a special bond exists with them
         that can't be matched by others.

        How many times had I heard her say
          "Someday I won't be here..." ?
      I thought I'd always have her, though.
           Now all I have is tears.

       I know she's with HER mother now.
         That's not what makes me sad.
   It's that I never asked her about our past,
    now, too late, I want to know soooo bad.

     So please, God, when you see my mom,
           give her all my love.
   And tell ALL my kin that I'll see them again
         when I join them up above.

in loving memory of Shirley Mae (Stanfill) Carey 1926 - 1991 by Pam Carey Durstock


Why I Am a Genealogist

I get the worst machine and turn the crank, And watch the names go by, My eyes bug out and I'll be frank, I sometimes wonder why And does it really make a damn, If Becky married Tom or Sam? Or sailed upon the sea? The dusty books, the puzzled looks, That's genealogy. The census scrawl, the long lost mall, The time I once had free, When hours were spent, In blessed sleep, Not genealogy! Once it was the football teams, Or looking at the stars, A fish to catch down by the stream, And playing my guitar. Now it's names galore and tales of yore, And thou and thy and thee The courthouse burned! What have I learned? That's genealogy. But then I look at all the names, In ordered files, forever claimed, From time's dark clutch, It isn't much, My genealogy. I know they're out there, calling me, The names, the dates, the stories, The lure of genealogy, Is long lost love and glory. You ask me why I cruise the Net, And write for Rooters free, I guess it's that I love the stuff, This genealogy! Randall Black Feb. 26, 1996 Irvine, CA [Written for my friends in Roots-L for any purpose they may find]


"We are the children of many sires, and every drop of blood in us in its turn betrays its ancestor."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Courtesy of Mike Borchardt (



O Family Tree,to the tune of "O Tannenbaum"

O Family Tree, O Family Tree How sturdy are your branches. O Family Tree, O Family Tree, How sturdy are your branches. Through many years in ages past You have shown the strength to last. O Family Tree, O Family Tree, How sturdy are your branches. O Family Tree, O Family Tree, There is so much for you to tell. O Family Tree, O Family Tree, There is so much for you to tell. Reveal to me your mystery As I research my ancestry. O Family Tree, O Family Tree, There is so much for you to tell. O Family Tree, O Family Tree, Show to me my heritage. O Family Tree, O Family Tree, Show to me my heritage. I learn from you so I can see A part of you lives on in me. O Family Tree, O Family Tree, Show to me my heritage. Author unknown. Courtesy of Alice Freese Molitor



'Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even my spouse. The dining room table with clutter was spread with pedigree charts and with letters which said
... "Too bad about the data for which you wrote Sank in a storm on an ill-fated boat." Stacks of old copies of wills and the such were proof that my work had become much too much. Our children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads. And I at my table was ready to drop From work on my album with photos to crop. Christmas was here, and of such was my lot That presents and goodies and toys I'd forgot. Had I not been so busy with grandparents' wills, I'd not have forgotten to shop for such thrills. While others had bought gifts that would bring Christmas cheer, I'd spent my time researching those birthdates and years. While I was thus musing about my sad plight, A strange noise on the lawn gave me such a great fright. Away to the window I flew in a flash, Tore open the drapes and I yanked up the sash. When what to my wondering eyes should appear, But an overstuffed sleight and eight small reindeer. Up to the housetop the reindeer they flew, With a sleigh full of toys, and 'ole Santa Claus, too. And then in a twinkle, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of thirty-two hoofs. The TV antenna was no match for their horns, And look at our roof with hoof-prints adorned. As I drew in my head, and bumped it on the sash, Down the cold chimney fell Santa--KER-RASH! "Dear" Santa had some for the roof in a wreck, And tracked soot on the carpet (I could wring his short neck!). Spotting my face, good old Santa could see I had no Christmas spirit you'd have to agree. He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work And filled all the stockings (I felt like a jerk). Here was Santa, who'd brought us such gladness and joy; When I'd been too busy for even one toy. He spied my research on the table all spread "A genealogist!" He cried! (My face was all red!) "Tonight I've met many like you," Santa grinned, As he pulled from his sack a large book he had penned. I gazed with amazement-the cover it read "Genealogy Lines for Which You have Plead." "I know what it's like as a genealogy bug," He said as he gave me a great Santa hug. While the elves make the sleighful of toys I now carry, I do some research in the North Pole Library." "A special treat I am thus able to bring, To genealogy folks who can't find a thing. Now off you go to your bed for a rest, I'll clean up the house from this genealogy mess." As I climbed up the stairs full of gladness and glee, I looked back at Santa who'd brought much to me. While settling in bed, I heard Santa's clear whistle To his team, which then rose like the down of a thistle. And I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight, "Family History is Fun! Merry Christmas! Goodnight!" (Author unknown)


All I Want For Christmas Is A New Surname (author unknown)

Dear Santa: Don't bring me new dishes,
I don't need a new kind of game.
Genealogists have peculiar wishes
For Christmas I just want a surname.

A new washing machine would be great,
But it's not the desire of my life.
I've just found an ancestor's birth date;
What I need now is the name of his wife.

My heart doesn't yearn for a ring
That would put a real diamond to shame.
What I want is a much cheaper thing;
Please give me Mary's last name.

To see my heart singing with joy,
Don't bring me a read leather suitcase,
Bring me a genealogist's toy;
a surname with dates and a place.

(seen in Illinois State Gen Soc newsletter 1984)


The limbs that move,  the eyes that see,
These are not entirely me;
Dead men and women helped to shape
The mold which I do not escape;
The words I speak, my written line,
These are not uniquely mine.
For in my heart and in my will
Old ancestors are warring still,
Celt,Roman, Saxon, and all the dead
From whose rich blood my veins are fed,
In aspect, gesture, voices, tone,
Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone;
In fields they tilled I plow the sod,
I walk the mountain paths they trod;
And round my daily steps arise
The good and bad of those I comprise.

 by English author Richard Rolle, written over 600 years ago.


Old Folks are worth a Fortune

Remember, old folks are worth a fortune, with silver in their hair, gold in their teeth, stones in their kidneys, lead in their feet and gas in their stomachs. I have become a little older since I saw you last, and a few changes have come into my life since then. Frankly, I have become quite a frivolous old gal. I am seeing five gentlemen every day. As soon as I wake up, Will Power helps me get out of bed. Then I go to see John. Then Charlie Horse comes along, and when he is here, he takes a lot of my time and attention. When he leaves, Arthur Ritis shows up and stays the rest of the day. He doesn't like to stay in one place very long, so he takes me from joint to joint. After such a busy day I'm really tired and glad to go to bed with Ben Gay. What a life! P.S. The preacher came to call the other day. He said at my age I should be thinking about the hereafter. I told him, "Oh, I do it all the time. No matter where I am - in the parlor, upstairs, in the kitchen, or down in the basement - I ask myself, Now, what am I here after?" signed an old gal
Courtesy of: Old Farmers Almanac


23rd Psalm for Genealogists

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 Ships Passenger Lists for
my Surnames' sake.
Yes, though I wait through the Shadows of Research Libraries and Microfilm
Readers,I shall fear no Discouragment, for a Strong Urge is with me.
The curiosity and Motivation, they Comfort me.
It demandeth preparation of Storage Space for the Aquisition of Countless
It anointeth my Head with burning Midnight Oil, My Family Group Sheets
runneth over.
Surely Birth,Marriage and Death dates shall follow me all the Days of my
Life; and I shall dwell in the House of a Family History Seeker Forever


Courtesy of: Edithe Silver


I started out calmly tracing my tree
To find, if I could, the making of me
And all that I had was Great Grandfather's name
Not knowing his wife or which way 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
I'd proved poor Great Grandpa had never been born.

One day I was sure the truth I had found
Determined to turn this whole thing upside down
I looked up the records of one Uncle John
But then 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
The facts I collected then made me quite sad
Dear ol' Great Grandfather was never a dad.

I think maybe someone is pulling my leg
I'm not at all 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? -Anon.

Courtesy of: NICOLE KILGORE 


The Elusive Ancestor

by Merrell Kenworthy I went searching for an ancestor. I cannot find him still. He moved around from place to place and did not leave a will. He married where a courthouse burned. He mended all his fences. He avoided any man who came to take the U.S. Census. He always kept his luggage packed, this man who had no fame. And every 20 years or so, this rascal changed his name. His parents came from Europe. They should be upon some list of passengers to U.S.A., but somehow they got missed. And no one else in this world is searching for this man. So, I play genea-solitaire to find him if I can. I'm told he's buried in a plot, with tombstone he was blessed; but the weather took engraving, and some vandals took the rest. He died before the county clerks decided to keep records. No Family Bible has emerged, in spite of all my efforts. To top it off this ancestor, who caused me many groans, Just to give me one more pain, betrothed a girl named JONES.


Beatitudes of a Family Genealogist

Blessed are the great-grandmothers, who hoarded newspaper clippings and old letters, For they tell the story of their time.
Blessed are all grandfathers who filed every legal document, For this provides proof.
Blessed are grandmothers who preserved family Bibles and diaries, For this is our heritage.
Blessed are fathers who elect officials that answer letters of inquiry, For--some--they are the only link to the past.
Blessed are mothers who relate family traditions and legends to the family, For one of her children will surely remember.
Blessed are the relatives who fill in family sheets with extra data, For them we owe the family history.
Blessed is any family whose members strive for the preservation of records, For theirs is a labour of love.
Blessed are the children who will never say, "Grandma, you have told that old story twice today."

Source: Prairieland Pioneer, Prairieland Genealogical Society, Southwest Historical Center Room 141, Southwest State Univ. Marshall, MN 56258 Summer 1995 Edition; St Louis Genealogy Society; SWNGS Ancestors Unlimited; Duluth Gen. Soc. Branching Out; Ottertail County Gen. Soc.

Courtesy of: Susanne <3IQADII@CMUVM.CSV.CMICH.EDU>


Humorous 1 Liners

Pruning family trees is not allowed. My family tree must be a pecan because it is full of nuts. Genealogy is not fatal, but it is a grave disease. My family tree needs more wood and less sap. Life takes its toll, have exact change ready. Old flamers never die, they just go to blazes. Genealogists climb trees. If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance. --George Bernard Shaw Genealogy is relative Genealogists do it with dead people Genealogists don't die, they just lose their roots. I don't do windows - I do genealogy Having children is hereditary. If your parents hadn't had any, neither could you! Genealogists never die, they just lose their census! Genealogy, the only hobby where dead people can excite you! Life is too short and you're dead too long! Genealogist: one always in search of a good dead man. Genealogists can make the dead talk. Genealogists: the ancestrally challenged. Genealogists Collect Dead Relatives Hooked on Genealogy works for me! I think that I shall never see, A finished genealogy Genealogists just dig it Genealogists do it for the memories. Genealogists do it in the archives. Genealogists do it off the record. Genealogists do it with a will. Old genealogists don'd die, they just get filed away Genealogist do it in Cemeteries! What do you mean, genealogy is trivial? We're obsessed with the ISSUES! Q: Why do genealogists die with smiles on their faces? A: They know they're about to get one more date on their pedigree charts. Genealogists do it backward! Genealogist do it in trees. Genealogists do it in court houses. When tracing ancestors, please stay within the lines. Why waste your money looking up your family tree, just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.-- Mark Twain The fellow who leans on his family tree may never get out of the woods. Every family tree has its sap. Shake any family tree and your are bound to get a few nuts. If your family tree doesn't fork? You might be a Redneck.. Jeff Foxworthy


Genealogists' Disease

WARNING: This condition is very contagious to adults.

SYMPTOMS: Continual complaint as to need for names, dates and places. Patient has a blank expression, sometimes deaf to spouse and children. Has no taste for work of any kind except feverishly looking through records at libraries and Record Offices. Has complusion to write letters. Swears at postman when he doesn't leave mail. Frequents strange places such as cemeteries, ruins and remote, desolate country areas. Makes secret night calls, mumbles to self. Has strange faraway look in eyes.

TREATMENT: Medication is useless. Disease is not fatal, but gets progressively worse. Patient should attend Family History Workshops, subsbribe to Genealogical magazines and be given a quiet corner of the house where he, or she, can be alone.

The usual nature of the disease is - the sicker the patient gets, the more he, or she enjoys it . . . .


Courtesy of: Marion Walter



I am a cencus takers for the city of Bufflow. Our city has groan very fast in resent years & now in 1865, it has become a hard & time consuming job to count all the peephill. There are not many that con do this werk, as it is nesessarie to have an ejucashun, wich a lot of pursons still do not have. Anuther atribeart needed for this job is god spelling, for meny of the pephill to be counted can hardle speek inglish, let alon spel there names.

Courtesy of: Marie Louise Gray




by Thedora Kroeber When I am dead Cry for me a little, Think of me sometimes, But not too much. It is not good for you Or for your children To let your thoughts dwell Too long on the ead. Think of me now and again, As I was in life, At some moment Which is pleasant to recall, But not for long. Leave me in peace As I shall leave you, too, In peace. While you live, Let your thoughts Be with the living.


Updated 10-03-2010

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