If you are logging in major research hours doing your family history, you have likely run into funny genealogy records. The kind that make you laugh-out-loud, share on social media, and help you remember why you love to do genealogy! Here are a few of my favorites with the help of a few friends.
Family History Funnies
- I found a will in which Mr. Kessler bequeathed a board to his son-in-law. It wasn’t just any old board, it was the board with “which he hit me on the head.”
- Newspapers of the past didn’t always use tact, they sometimes just told it like it was. Like the article about my great- uncle Joe who was castrated during a police interrogation. Yikes!
- Some time ago on Ancestry.com, there was something very “other-worldly” going on. I pulled up a census record. When I tried to zoom in, a picture of a man and child appeared on the bottom. ‘How weird,’ I thought. I zoomed back out and the picture disappeared. I pulled up other censuses, but nothing strange happened. I went back to the original census and zoomed in again. There he was! The old man with a child on his lap. This time, I took a screenshot so everyone would believe me. Lastly, I refreshed the page and zoomed in again only to find the picture had disappeared. Weird, to say the least. I wondered if someone from the beyond was trying to tell me something!
- We all find funny names on censuses. Like the Mason Perry who was recorded by last name first: Perry, Mason. I couldn’t figure out why that seemed so familiar to me. Perry Mason, get it?
- My uncle’s name is Ethel Cross Witt. He was recorded as a female when he was younger. As an adult, he went by “Eckel” or “John” because he hated being called by a woman’s name. I don’t know why he just didn’t go by his middle name…it would have been better than being called “Ethel,” in my opinion.
- You know when you run across those occupations that make you a little uncomfortable? Well, Sharon Watson found her husband’s ancestor listed with an occupation that at first left her speechless. Grandma was listed as a “stripper” in the census. After the shock wore off, Sharon realized the young woman was actually a tobacco stripper.
- I was shocked to find a whole bunch of “hookers” in a census once. They all worked in a rug factory.
- Friend Peggy Clemens Lauritzen has an ancestor that tried to apply for a Civil War Pension on account of his injuries. He claimed a load of wood dropped on his groin, giving him an inguinal hernia. The pension was denied due to the character references he obtained that said he was a lazy, no-account. Not to mention, his injury didn’t keep him from having 7 more children after the fact.
- Joe Foster’s ancestor, Celia Howe Davidson, was suspended from Mt. Zion Presbyterian Church in 1853 for “immoral and unchristian conduct.” She was accused of hitting Elizabeth Jane Parks with a club or stick and accusing her of stealing from her orchard. Elizabeth reported that Celia also “called me a name that is not decent to mention here or anywhere else.” Celia was found guilty and suspended until “she repents.”
- When I first started doing genealogy, I asked for help from a volunteer at a local family history center. I was interested in finding a marriage record for my great grandparents, Floyd Witt and Nancy Blevins. When the volunteer found the record she said, “Well this can’t be right.” I knew she must have found the right record because my Southern great-grandma was only 13 when she married and that can freak any Yankee out!
For even more family history funnies, follow #Youknowyoureagenealogist on Twitter!
This article first appeared in 2015 on the RootsBid.com blog and was written by myself.