Friday, May 18, 2012

The Genealogy Roller Coaster

During the decade or so that I have been tracing my family history I have experienced the gamut of emotions. Sometimes I discover things that bring tears to my eyes. In other instances I want to scream, as throttling people is not acceptable behavior, though when the person is dead that would be moot. Here are a few of the feelings you may experience in your genealogical journey.

Frustration. Brick walls will rear their ugly heads. And finding the maiden names of those elusive female ancestors can also result in much hair loss.

Outrage. My outrage story is the murder of my grandma's sister, but even more, the fact that her murderer spent a few years in the hospital for the criminally insane at Ionia before being released and pursuing his life in Kalamazoo. By the way, three state psychiatrists stated that Salpatrick was completely sane, but the judge unanimously decided to commit him.  To read about how that happened see Christmas Morning Murderer Gets Off Easy.

Joy. Finally finding a great record or a new photo of your ancestor is a wonderful feeling. I only wish it happened more often.

Disgust. I uncovered the story of a bigamist in my tree. Solon Lane even abandoned two of his four wives leaving them with children to raise alone.

Excitement. It doesn't take much to elicit this feeling for me. My poor husband must think I'm addled when I turn to him with sparkling eyes and say “Eureka, I found three potential death records for a family which explains why I couldn't find them in the census.” Well, I don't usually say Eureka.

Disappointment. I found out, much to my dismay, that my great-grandmother's brother was convicted and imprisoned for rape when he was just seventeen. See also Disgust. I can't help but think about the embarrassment and shame his parents must have felt about this.

Sorrow. Obviously there are many opportunities for this. The three deaths from diphtheria within a month in the Harrigan family (The Dreaded Diptheria) was one instance. Another was the mysterious death of my great aunt's only son while on an air mission in WWII. Lulu never found out how he died. Thanks to the Missing Air Crews records at Fold3 I found the answer.

Shock. I really was not expecting to discover that my great-grandmother's sister, Nettie, was a thief. I also didn't expect to read that she ran off, taking her youngest daughter with her. Nettie's mother put a notice in the paper stating that if Nettie didn't give up the girl she would publish the name of the man Nettie was involved with (he was NOT her husband). The young girl was apparently returned.

Exasperation. Where, oh where is the Civil War pension application file for Philo Brown of the 1st MI Cavalry?? Of the fourteen men I have found in my tree who filed for Civil War pensions there is only one that cannot be found by NARA. Naturally, it is the one for Philo, the only one of my people who suffered a gunshot wound. I would love to read his account of what happened. NARA has searched for the file two or three times over the years and I have been referred to the Michigan VA, to no avail. The file must be somewhere, but I'm not sure where to look next. Grrr!

Surprise. I received a pleasant surprise when a woman contacted me after finding my tree on She had a photo of one of my people to send to me. This was a wonderful find as I didn't have an identified photo of this woman and it allowed me to identify her in at least one other photo.

Confusion. This can easily happen when records disagree and you have to find a way to reconcile the differences. I'm still trying to determine the truth in a couple of cases.

Suspicion. Did John Harrigan really commit suicide or did his son, Henry, slit his throat? For more on this story see my previous posts: Suicide or Murder and John Harrigan, Who Done It? 

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of the various emotions your research has inspired. I'll bet most of us can identify with almost every one of them. This would be a good idea for one of Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun prompts!