I come from a long line of, well,…….people.

I’ve never thought of myself as having an addictive personality (notwithstanding my odd dependence on Klondike bars). Generally, when some new fad comes along I partake for a while, then move on to the next mind-numbing craze. But I’m hooked forever on this.

Just one word (no, not plastics), Genealogy.

“My great, great, great grandparents just before their sentencing.”

Yes, I am now irretrievably joined at the hip to Ancestry.com in all its tedious, fact-finding glory. I would have been happy if I could just have learned more about the bejeweled great-grandmother who, it is said, bore an uncanny resemblance to Lilly Langtree. Or the unmet wealthy uncle who for some obscure reason, left me out of his will. The board game was named after him, you know.

"I hereby bequeath to all my future descendants, except Big Al,........"

But no, Ancestry.com (now affectionately known as my “auntie”), their greedy mouths salivating at my every click, deign to send me “hints” about each relative who pops up. Not clicking on a hint about your relative is somewhat akin to trying to stop smoking (or Klondike bars) cold turkey. You can’t do it. Who knows, Jack the Ripper may appear on the very next limb of the tree. That gives you some idea of how desperately I want to be related to somebody famous.

"Uncle Jack, is that you?"

This genealogy thing is not for the faint of heart. It is time-consuming and frustrating to the max. Like the time I traced the “Francher” lineage back to the 1300’s, only to realize it was actually supposed to be “Fancher”. I’m glad though. Those Franchers were major players in the Spanish Inquisition and word is the descendants of their victims are still out for blood.

"What say ye, a Fancher or a Francher?"

But I digress. Anyway, one hint leads to another, leads to another and well, you get the idea. Before you know it, you are knee-deep in Smiths, Joneses and Browns. But that in no way means you are average or uninteresting. Why, did you know that my great, great, great, great something or other, William Jones, was “kilt” by an indian? I didn’t even know he was in India.

"Never again shall this white man call the tech help line!"

But I must admit, it is fascinating to find out how many different names are in your past. I now regret making fun of Englebert Humperdink (we’re 3rd cousins-in-law on my wife’s side). I once worked with a man named (and I am not making this up), Lionel Lillicrap. If he shows up on my family tree, I will call him to apologize for all those weird thoughts I had. After all, I have a few funny names in my family.





Well, thanks for reading this blog. I fully realize that enduring recitation of someone’s family tree is only marginally less excruciating than hanging wallpaper.

"I didn't realize how much fun this could be until I tried reading Big Al's blog."

As a reward for your indulgence, I am sending each of you a free 3 month subscription to my auntie. Be afraid, be very afraid!

23 thoughts on “I come from a long line of, well,…….people.

  1. My parents have both done intensive family trees, they both suddenly realised that they were the oldest living members of their immediate families so quickly found out as much as they could. The famine (1840’s) in Ireland causes massive problems because many records were burned then. The population of Ireland decreased from 8M to 2M in a decade, by starvation and emigration, so it is extremely hard to make connections.

    I’m not sure I would want to go on ancestors.com. We found some American relations through my dads family and its always a bit weird meeting complete strangers that are suddenly ‘family’. It’s hard enough meeting up with family we have known for years!!

    I much prefer the idea of meeting strangers that you have got to know well online!!

    • I just got off Ancestors.com. We’re 3rd cousins, twice removed! If they have to remove us again, we’ll be banished from the family entirely.

      • lol 🙂

        I actually know lots of my mums cousins and their children so it is great fun trying to help the girls remember what their relationship is with their third cousins and their uncle garret who is actually their first cousin twice removed. He and I are the blacksheep of our family, so you are welcome to join us in the twice removed corner

  2. I found you on Tilly’s blog. Very funny blog. I am a geneology nut too, and not half as amusing as you. Avoiding Ancestry.com for a while, even tho my History Profs say it is a good site. I have lots of material about my family to enter into the database when I get around to it. I am the keeper of family secrets. That’s what you get for haning around old people. Dianne

    • Thanks for the visit, Dianne. So nice to have another reader. As Tilly will attest, I am very rarely serious but you’ll find a blog or two with some earnest thoughts. Hope you will stick around for more.

  3. You are a funny guy, Big Al.

    This reminds me of that film with Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks where they die and before they move on they review their past lives and where she was someone noble and famous, he was eaten by a lion.

    You do get that I’m not saying you are Meryl Streep? 🙂

    • We love that movie. My wife is definitely the Meryl Streep character and I am the Albert Brooks. I expect I will be running after her bus, just hope they open the door for me too.

  4. Big-Al as always a great post , well written and amusing.
    I tried Ancestry.com to try to discover my roots. I could not get any further than my Mother, in fact I could not even find her…I gave up!

    Please do let us know if you find anything interesting…Some people do have great success

  5. Just goes to show curiosity can be very time consuming. Having said that ancestry is a fasinating subject. I am sure there a number of mine who would deny all knowlege of me if they could play the game the other way round.

    • As the saying goes, “you can choose your friends but not your family.”

      I’m also a big believer in “90% of all wealth is inherited, so choose your parents wisely.”

  6. I can trace my family tree back on my dad’s side to the 1600’s in England. My mom’s side is a bit blurry because she never knew her father (Parisian fling my grandmother had right before WWII broke out in Europe). My grandmother is Finnish, so try spelling those names (may I buy a vowel please?) if you can find her family.

    Great post and I see you’ve mastered the craft of inserting great pictures and captions–very funny stuff, my friend.

    • Those dead ends can be frustrating. There are ways around it if you can borrow from others’ trees but it gets tricky.

      Thanks for the compliment. Again, learning from the master.

  7. Big Al, my mother drove us CRAZY with her obsession with geneology, and she didn’t even have a computer. She would FORCE us to sit down with her and fill out copies of ancestor charts that we didn’t want and didn’t care about. We have boxes of records that she has insisted we take and store in safe places. Just so you know. At least your son is interested. BTW, loved this blog. So funny you are!

  8. I love genealogy but has so far resisted the temptation to join ancestry.com, is it really worth the money? And how much money are we talking about here?

    Interesting though, you learn a lot of interesting things while chasing er tracing your family tree.

    • It all depends on how much it means to you. My son is really in to this so I bought a two for one software program. Now I am hooked. When this subscription runs out, it can be $79 to $129 a year depending on how sophisticated you want to get.

      It is fascinating for the first few levels but the further back you go, it can get kind of tedious. Still, it stirs up the wonder and imagination, which is fun.

      • It is really fascinating. When I started my family tree the records weren’t as readily available online as they are now. I went every Saturday to The Church of Later Day Saints and scrolled through their micro fiche, tough when you are looking at hand-written notes from the 1800’s. It is a nice hobby to share, especially with your son. I hope you don’t find out you were related to Jack. 😉 Always love your posts.

Your turn to write, but please don't be wittier than me. My ego is quite fragile.

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