Everything’s Relative October 2000

Everything’s Relative October 2000

The lighter side of family history.

The Truth Is Out There

If it seems one of your ancestors suddenly appeared on Earth one day, have you ever considered the possibility that your ancestry may not be entirely of this world?

Alien ancestors can throw a real wrench into your genealogy research, especially when agents Mulder and Scully of “The X-Files” aren’t around. UFOs typically don’t leave behind written records of their comings and goings and — let’s face it — crop circles and abductees aren’t going to tell you a whole lot about the time and place your great-great-grandparents “landed.”

But don’t despair! There’s an Internet mailing list (“listserv”) for people (and we use the term “people” loosely) just like you. UFO-ROOTS-L is described as “a mailing list for those whose ancestors arrived from outer space to make connections with others sharing this problem, discuss’ their ancestry and provide advice on possible avenues for further research.”

Unfortunately, the list is a bit divided on its true purpose. Some members apparently believe they are actually descendants of little green men. One such member figures her ancestry began with “hybrid experimentation several hundred thousand years ago.” Another list member, a resident of the infamous Roswell, NM, writes that the “common problem” of UFO roots is that it’s so difficult to support with evidence. (Just ask Mulder!)

The other faction of the list consists of researchers who, if they can’t find information about where their ancestors came from, say they “must be from Mars.” These members may or may not believe in alien life forms, but still enjoy participating in the open, curious nature of UFO-ROOTS-L.

To join your fellow earthlings in their discussion of UFRs (unidentified family roots), send an e-mail message with the word “subscribe” in its body to the address UFO-ROOTS-L-request@rootsweb.com.

– Susan Wenner

Ancestral Expeditions: Filling Out a Blank Czech

In 1968, one or my dad’s cousins decided to climb the family tree, so to speak. She embarked on a genealogical expedition with an explorer’s zeal, requesting information from each family member. My mom dutifully recorded what she knew, with blue ballpoint pen in her perfect Palmer script. She consulted with Dad on every point of fact, and his brother and sisters also submitted what they knew.

A few decades later, when my husband and I decided to investigate our respective family histories, I contacted that now-elderly cousin to see if she’d ever completed her proposed work. To my disappointment, a failing memory caused her to deny any knowledge of the project.

Undeterred, I began sorting through memorial cards, birthday lists and certificates I’d kept following Mom’s death. The next step was a research request to the regional archives in Trebon, Czech Republic, which required my grandparents’ marriage date to complete. I remembered finding among Mom’s keepsakes an elaborate document, brittle with age, that was undoubtedly the marriage certificate I needed. Unfortunately, we had determined to safeguard it so carefully that it now refused to be found.

I searched every drawer, cabinet, box and binder — even ransacked the hope chest and safe-deposit box. Nothing. My husband suggested I try the family Bible. Dubious yet desperate, I opened its red cardboard storage box and flipped the book’s pages. Still nothing. Exasperated, I lifted the Bible from the box. Underneath lay two folded pieces of graying paper. Expecting further disappointment, I snapped open the top sheet.

“Thanks, Mom,” I whispered, gasping in recognition. There, in blue ball-point in Mom’s perfect Palmer script, was a duplicate of the family facts she’d compiled 30 years ago, put aside for us to find. And there at the bottom was the elusive date of my grandparents’ wedding: 1893. The other paper revealed a more extraordinary surprise — a family tree documenting in Czech the names and dates of my great-grandfather and his descendants.

NEAR AND DEAR

As he got older, we never quiet knew what to expect from my father-in-law. On his 85th birthday, he had been serious and quiet. Even though he spent most of his childhood and adult life in Indianapolis, Cincinnati was his birthplace. Surprised at this, one of our friends asked how it happened that he’d been in Ohio.

Without any hesitation, Pop responded, “I was born in Cincinnati because I wanted to be near my mother.”

PATTICA HAHN

Beverly Hills, Mich.

It seems our industrious cousin, unknown to me, had requested those Trehon records decades ago, and my mom had the foresight to safeguard them. All I had to do was open the box.

Sometimes you don’t find what you’re looking for — you find something better instead: You find what was looking for you.

PATRICIA JANE HASSLER LA GRANGE, III.

MAKING THE NEWS

My interest in family history took me to a small town in South Texas where my great-grandparents once lived. I never knew any of the Texas relatives except from the stories my dad told. All were long deceased and not a single living relative remained. When I arrived at the small town I was surprised to find a little museum of sorts, in an old house on a side street. Upon entering I met an elderly woman and, when I told her who my relatives were, she said, “Oh, I knew your great-grandfather.” It was quite a surprise to find someone who could make me feel a real connection to the little town. We chatted for a while and I considered my trip to be a success.

When I got back home to Houston, I wrote a letter outlining my trip and experiences and sent it to my dad in Arizona. He did a little editing of my letter and sent it to the twice-a-week newspaper published in the South Texas town I’d visited. To our great surprise the paper published it — on the front page! — and gave me the byline: “Dan Garcia, Correspondent.” They also put Dad’s e-mail address at the end of the story.

We may not have any close relatives left in that town but there are, it turned out, quite a few in far-flung places who keep up with the old hometown. E-mail came from San Antonio, California, Colorado and other locations. One particular distant relative was the “mother lode” of genealogical information, with much more data concerning our shared family tree than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams.

My tip for fellow genealogists: If you can get a story published in a small-town newspaper, your “literary” efforts may be rewarded many times over.

DAN GARCIA

Houston, Texas
 
From the October 2000 issue of Family Tree Magazine
 

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