Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mad things we genealogists do

The Armchair Genealogist posted Monday Madness - The Craziest Thing You've Done in the Name of Genealogy?

Thinking about it, I've done a few mad things too. On a trip with a relative in her 80's to Wellington a few years ago, we went past a fruit and vegetable sign on the side of the road called by the family name I'm researching. On a mad impulse, I screeched to a halt, turned the car around and searched for the shop. It turned out to be a farmlet and the lady (our family) was so helpful, we got afternoon tea too. My relative still reminds me about it regularly, it was quite an adventure.

Taking my husband to Kuaotuna cemetery about ten years ago while we were holidaying in the area was an adventure, the graves were scattered in the bush, I'm sure we didn't find many of them. He was not impressed.

I've sometimes taken to white pages to look for clues and phoning odd people. To date, the response has been very good. But I have refined my sales pitch to lessen the chance of being a nuisance. I guess my call might be a welcome change from tele-marketers!

What a shame some people leave such a sour taste in one's mouth that the memory hangs around far longer than is warranted. One lady I phoned who was a family member and had a portrait hanging in her home of our ggrandmother but was in another city, said in a snooty voice. "Oh no, I can't have strangers in myyy home photographing myyy relatives!" I hope you haven't one of these in your tree. I've been trying to find someone in the family who is farther up the food chain to get a pic for me without success so far.

Overall, I would recommend being a bit adventuresome laced with respect for other's privacy of course.


  1. I have memories of ancestor hunting in cemeteries with young children in tow. My (now adult) daughter who isn't interested in family history often recalls my desperate attempts to find dead relatives. I find some people so very helpful and friendly but others are much the same as your experience. I do hope that you find someone who may be able to copy the photo for you, how sad she wasn't willing to share. I see it as an insurance of sorts, if ever I lost my precious photos and papers I like to think that I can go to others whom I have shared my treasures with and be able to get copies.

  2. Too true Marilyn, I like to share as well and it is insurance. I think about the backups I do but then if the whole house burnt to the ground, where is everything and who else has it.

  3. The maddest thing i've done:
    in the very early 1990's before main stream home computing, i wrote away to 'A reputable newspaper', Stranraer, Wigtownshire, Scotland with a bunch of information about my grandfather who was born in the area in 1907 [he left for NZ in 1925 and died 1986 and asked if they could put it in their paper.

    My letter ended up finding its way to Wigtownshire Free Press and the response was amazing. Someone posted me all the index entries for that newspaper for the names i was researching which led to me being able to purchase lots of news articles on the family and I even had a letter from a very elderly lady who went to junior school with my grandad and had always wondered what had happened to him and his brother. It was VERY rewarding :-)

  4. Wow Sandy, that is creative.