Looking for dead people can be a thankless task. People sometimes think I’m crazy for giving the past so much attention. Who cares when or how someone died? Well…it turns out that family members, friends, and even old neighbors and classmates do. So I do the best I can to help them find out the truth about their ancestors.
That often leads to surprises that people might not want to know.
I have found “widows” who were really divorced; proof that people committed suicide or were in insane asylums when they died; and court cases of adultery, murder, robbery, rape, etc. that were previously unknown by family members. I try to provide them with the facts without making comments or judgments.
But another thing that I do is try to set the record straight. It has been my experience in doing this for twenty+ years that many family stories are simply that- family stories. So when I find an obituary in the paper that has not been requested by a particular family member, I go to Ancestry or a couple of other sites to see if there are family members there with trees or with requests that match the information I have. Then I send it to the family. This week I found a wonderful example of family story vs. facts!!!!
There were twin boys in the county that died within weeks of each other. The paper reported their illness, then the death of one from pneumonia, then the death of the other. It even mentioned their teacher, and that he had given the eulogy. The “family story” was that they were shot by cattle rustlers, one died instantly and the other was wounded and died later! How that came about I will never know. But, I checked the names, dates, and location so I knew I had the right boys. And I sent the facts. What the family does with them is their business.