Ancestor Hate Mail

by Kerry Scott on 1 August 2014

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Dear Hattie,

Okay. I get it. You fell in love with a guy named Smith, and you married him. Ideally, you would marry a guy named Poopypfeiffer or something, but I can see you weren’t thinking of future genealogists. What I don’t get, though, is why you had to name your son John. John Smith? Really? REALLY??


Dear Lars,

I know you’re supposed to be resting in peace, but could you please come and haunt that one weenie on Ancestry? Because the dude has you on the wrong tree, and no amount of actual documentation seems to convince him of this. I need you to zombie-thump him until he gets a clue. Thanks in advance.


Dear Norwegians,

You know what’s a good idea? Surnames. You should get some. Because this patronym thing sucks, and you can’t seem to agree on the farm name. And when you get a surname, KEEP IT. You’re not supposed to change it daily. You’re confusing it with underwear.


Dear Maria,

Listen. I mostly appreciate Germans. You have real surnames, and your language isn’t that hard. But this deal where you keep naming the next baby after the last dead baby until one lives? That’s creepy. Four Johanns is three too many. Also, it’s okay to not name your kids the exact same things your sisters did, in the exact same order. I mean, I’m from an era where people name their kids things like Apple and Rock, so I get it. But I feel like there’s a happy medium here.


Dear Olena,

WHO WAS THE FATHER OF YOUR BABY? I’m not judging, seriously. I just need to know. Can you write it on my mirror like that Bloody Mary thing I heard about in sixth grade? It can be just the consonants, like on Wheel of Fortune. I’ll take what I can get.


Dear Tom,

Basic good manners dictate that at least one of your many marriages/divorces take place your home state (which has an index). Have as many wives as you want, but at least have the courtesy to marry and/or divorce them in the right state.


Dear Mathais,

I’m sure that Hungarian lady is super nice, but if you marry her…I mean, holy cow. Hungarian is hard. Plus, believe it or not, the Hungarian empire doesn’t last, so some of the records will end up in Romania. (On the upside, the food is going to be pretty delicious. I appreciate the complete absence of fish cured in lye.)


Dear Everyone,

Please stop living in places that don’t have newspapers online. I’m spending a fortune in interlibrary loan fees, and I have to take Dramamine for the microfilm. It would nice if you labeled your pictures too, so I know who’s who. Also, which one of you hooked up with a Finn? Because all of a sudden, I have DNA cousins with a bunch of a’s in their names, and I’m not sure what you expect me to do with them. Finns also eat fish cured in lye, so this isn’t an improvement over the Norwegians. Maybe find a Belgian next time, okay? Those people have chocolate.

Photo by Jonny Hughes

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