Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Poet Genealogist


I went searching for an ancestor, I can not 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 US Census

He always kept his luggage packed, this man who had no fame
And every 20 years or so, that rascal changed his name.
His parents came from Europe, they should be on some list
Of passengers to the USA, but somehow they got missed.

And no one else in the world is searching for this man
So I'm playing "gene solitaire" to find him if I can
I'm told he's buried in a plot, with tombstone he was blessed,
But weather took the engraving, and 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 to off, this ancestor, who's caused me so many groans,
Just to give me one more pain, betrothed a girl named Jones !

                                                              -- by Merrell Kenworthy

    This isn't exactly timeless prose but it is one of my current favorite poems for a couple of reasons. To begin with, it expresses in an amusing way all of the frustrations my beloved genealogy hobby carries with it. I can honestly say that I have personally run into everyone of the pitfalls enumerated in this little ditty over the course of my five years search. Small bits of this poem riddle every step of the way I have travelled while looking for my ancestors and those of my husband. But those "speed bumps" help to make the hunt that much more satisfying when I finally can say "aha, I've got you now, Ransom Arrant !".....or whomever I currently seek....
    Genealogy is the thrill of the hunt, the solving of a riddle within a riddle, woven around all of these problems and more that can get in your way while on the hunt. And that is precisely why it is so rewarding to find a new fact, step, lead or person along the way. Oh, and each new find leads to more, which leads to more, which....well, you get the picture.
    And I did say there were a couple of reasons I liked it. The other one is that within its lines is a memory jogger of each record you hope to find for every ancestor eventually. The only things she left out were military records, naturalization, and obituaries, so I use it to help me remember all of the things I am seeking for each new ancestor without having to refer to my checkoff sheets of records to seek.
    It amuses and tutors me all at the same time. It gives me hope and a chuckle. Hope it does the same for you.

-- Submitted by Linda Mecchi

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