12 February 2008

Family History

You sit down at 4 o'clock.

You spend 3 hours researching online compilations of Census records, marriage records, death records, social security death indexes, military records, court records, tax records, land exchange records, records of things you never thought ANYONE would keep a record of. ("Come here Ethelred! Lemme count your horses.")

But you have to read all of them. And no trips to the bathroom either, because I know you: you'll never come back.

You open up your family history software and you try to figure out which William (out of 4) now has a birth date... only to discover that they ALL already had birthdates.

Spend a couple of minutes scratching your head and praying for divine intervention.

Eventually, you give up on William and switch over to debating over which spelling of the name Pascal/Paschal/Pascall you're going to use. Eventually, you decide to make up your own, put a star next to it and keep moving.

With your pad of paper at your desk, you diagram different families from the Census records, trying not to think about what you're going to do once you hit 1790, and there AREN'T any more official Census records... and for some reason, you cannot seem to figure out where that one random, difficult-to-place-within-the-tree family member is supposed to go. You've been to three different websites, sleuthed through 6 different kinds of records, and he's there every time, but you have no idea where he belongs!

"Dang you Curtis Keatts!" you exclaim, "Who is yo' daddy?!"

But don't spend too much time laughing at your own geneaology joke. You've got at least 4 generations of family to be named, maimed, detected, selected, and rejected. Get movin' girl!

And then it happens. If you're white, and your family is white, and has been white for at least 6 generations, and is from Virginia, you will come to face a very inconvenient truth. And I'm not even talking about slavery. Oh I WISH I was talking about slavery. But no... that ethical dillema has already come and gone for the Keats/Keatts/Bennett/Shelton branch of the family, who not only had slaves, but were overseers on other plantations.

No... I'm talking inbreeding.

And the further back you go, the. worse. it. GETS!

In the course of an hour, you become the quitessential target of every single Jeff Foxworthy "You Might Be a Redneck" joke you've ever heard because you possess the ultimate mark of Cain that cannot be erased! Eww ewww ewww.

And then once you get over the personal struggle of "my ancestors were hillbillies," you realize that putting that kind of relationship into this software is going to be as difficult as figuring out how to add 2nd and 3rd marriages AND the divorces that came in between.

Yes folks, it's VERY Mormon software.

But no more jokes, young lady! You're on a deadline! The youth temple trip is at the end of March, and you've got tons of work ahead of you. You just hit a "Thomas Keatts" jackpot, and you have to figure out where all of them belong, and match them to their proper spouses. And if you mess up, it's gonna be A MESS in Heaven for these people, and you're going to be stuck with it for eternity.

Uh oh. Never thought of that.

They're a bunch of farming, slave-owning, cousin-marrying Virginians!!! Do I even want to spend eternity with these people? I mean, I'm getting mental images of The Beverly Hillbillies go to Heaven, and it's scaring the crap outta me! I'll be the only one there who spells my name the same way every time I write it!

*Sigh*

Maybe I'll just hang out with Curtis, and we'll be outsiders together.

Until then, I've got 11 generations of Keats/Keatts//Bennett to sort through. Maybe if I don't complain too much, I'll find out I'm related to royalty!

(And while that would have no affect whatsoever on my current living situation, it would certainly make me feel better.)

Either way, I'm resolved never to marry anyone from Virginia because chances are excellent I'm related to him somehow.

3 comments:

  1. This one made me laugh uncontrollably. Thanks - and hang in there. I'm sure a full set of teeth is part of the resurrection.

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  2. lol - i found out that i've got several lines that go way back and are Mexican. Inbreeding isn't only prevalent among Virginians I found out - it's Mexicans too. Can Mexicans be hillbillies? Mexican hillbillies - funny!

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  3. hahaha. I could have told you we were hillbilies before you did 3 hours of research!!

    Love, aunt cece

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