by Kerry Scott on 3 November 2010

I’m on a case right now.  It’s taking over my brain.  I’m pretty much a zombie.

This case is fascinating.  There are twists and turns, and I’m not sure who the father of the baby is, and just now I became unsure who the mother of the baby was.  There’s scandal, and intrigue, and tragic young death, and Ziegfeld Follies, and old photos of young love, and real live people who want to know what really happened.

There are people who should be listed in the senior class of one high school…but aren’t.  There are people who have easy names that should be in the census index…but aren’t.  There are house-to-house searches of twelve enumeration districts in a large city, and birth records whose access is restricted, and burned records, and every other kind of dead-people-hiding trick you can think of.

And I’ve lost track of how many cans of pop I’ve had.  I think I ate breakfast, but I’m not sure (I might have just eaten chewable Lemonheads, which are disgusting, but we’re down to the dregs of the leftover trick-or-treat candy here at Clue Wagon headquarters).  I DO know that we had soup out of a box for dinner last night.  I’m willing my youngest kid to take an extra-long nap, and I skipped two pages of Green Eggs and Ham on purpose.  I’m unrepentant.  Because I’m a zombie, and I’m on a case.

And while people are cheering or moaning about election results all over the internet, I don’t have to deal with that.  I’m in another world.  My world has mysteries, hard ones, and I’m going to solve them.  I’m going to find that baby daddy.  I’m going to get those birth dates right.  I’m going to untangle these people and put them back together so that their people know who they are.

You people who ask me why I like genealogy so much?  This is why.  Because once I get going, I can completely leave 2010 and go someplace else entirely.  I can be so consumed that I forget everything that was bothering me.  I have this secret escape passage.

I am so lucky.

Photo by baekken

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Evil HR Lady November 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm

You know, you’ve inspired me and I’ve started working on my husband’s family history. And, wouldn’t you know it, intrigue has already reared it’s fascinating head. I’m 99% sure I’ve located a man who was supposed to be dead in the 1930s, living in the next town over and not dying until 1971.

Such fun.


Kerry Scott November 3, 2010 at 5:06 pm

See? That’s how it is. You think you know stuff about your family, and then you find out that not everything is as it seems. And you’re hooked.


Becky Wiseman November 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm

It is sooo easy to get lost in time. Been there. Done that. Although it has been a while I have pulled some “all – nighters” and not even been aware of the time. Funny how you don’t even “see” that little clock in the corner of the computer!


Kerry Scott November 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm

I fear an all-nighter is in my immediate future. I know I’m going to regret it in the morning…but this is really a good one I’m working on.


Susan November 3, 2010 at 2:44 pm

You have this uncanny ability to write what I’m thinking – only you’re wittier and with an even crappier diet than mine (didn’t think that was possible). I’ve printed this out, will laminate it and the next time someone tries to talk to me, the dog wants to go for a walk or some fool rings my doorbell I will simply hand them this post. I won’t even need to speak! Not sure what the dog will make of it, but that’s why it’s laminated.


Kerry Scott November 3, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Thank you. I’m pretty sure I could out-crappy anyone’s diet, anytime, anywhere.


Cynthia Shenette November 3, 2010 at 3:48 pm

So well said. I love genealogy in a large part because I love doing research. I always have. I love finding the clues and solving the mystery. I don’t really see brick walls as brick walls. A brick wall is simply a case of me not finding the right clue or following the right lead or analyzing the information I already have correctly. My biggest “brick wall” is my lack of time. Genealogy is all consuming. I know the information I’m looking for is out there. I just have to figure out a way to find it.

Thanks for the interesting post.


Kerry Scott November 3, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Yes! I’m convinced that if I just had the time (and maybe a babysitter), I would have no brick walls at all.

The nice thing about dead people, though, is that they’ll still be dead when we are old and have more time.


Susan Tiner November 3, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I know your happiness, it’s my preferred state of mind. However, that’s one of the reasons I decided to take a step back and not dive into Genealogy as a foreground project. I’ve got several foreground projects going on, and since I take on all projects with this sort of intensity, priorities are in order. Genealogy is fascinating, but it will have to simmer on a back burner for the time being.


Kerry Scott November 3, 2010 at 5:07 pm

You’re wise to do that. I did the same thing for, ummm, 10 years…because I knew I couldn’t keep up. I’m still not sure I can keep up, but I’m glad to be trying, at least.


Rachel November 3, 2010 at 5:19 pm

This past Sunday I signed up for a month on GenealogyBank and spent 6 hours straight researching one family. I can’t tell you how many times I started cracking up laughing at the stories I was reading. It’s amazing the cast of characters you can find.


Kerry Scott November 3, 2010 at 5:22 pm

It’s better than any reality show, isn’t it?


Cathi Desmarais November 3, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I found myself saying, “Yes!” right out loud at the end of that post. I call my genealogy research “time travel.” I love that altered state of consciousness, even when it lasts for only moments, when we are “there” instead of “here.”


Debi November 3, 2010 at 6:18 pm

I recently found the sister of an ancestor in a mental institution in the 1930′s/1940′s. I’ve since gotten a copy of her death certificate and it tells me nothing – NOTHING – that is helpful. Well it did tell me she was divorced in 1946 when she died which wasn’t all that common. So maybe that is a clue? Did his behavior drive her to the institution? Or did her behavior drive him to divorce?

Like sands in an hourglass, these are the days of our lives :-)


Caroline Pointer November 3, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Ditto. I’m busy finding other people’s baby daddies right now, which is why my blog has been silent lately. Whether they are my family’s baby daddies or other people’s family’s baby daddies, it doesn’t matter. There are baby daddies to be found and I’m gonna find ‘em. And I’m glad I’m not the only one. There’s plenty to be found. Look. Out. Baby Daddies of the past. We’ve got your number.


Love. It. Thanks for the post. Now. Where was I…

Family Stories


Greta Koehl November 3, 2010 at 9:18 pm

OMG, you are always getting into my head. Well, at least now I don’t feel as guilty as I used to about ignoring my family. Several lines of research have turned “juicy,” and like someone who commented above, I now have Genealogy Bank. Lawsuits (family against family, state against family) are all over the place, as are various manifestations of insanity. I used to think of myself in detective mode – but now, there is an element of soap opera addiction in there, as well.


Barbara Poole November 4, 2010 at 7:11 am

I was fooled. As a rather new reader, I began reading your post, thinking it was a great book review, esp. when I saw you had listed, “The Help” below. Then I realized what this was about, as I’ve been there as well. If I want to go on a diet for a day or two, this is what I enjoy doing…you simply forget to eat. Isn’t our hobby the best? Thanks for a wonderful post.


Jen Holik Urban November 4, 2010 at 9:49 am

What a fantastic post! I can very much relate to what you described, especially the part about willing the kids to nap longer (or play quietly longer). I love being transported back in time when working on my family history. I hope you solve your mysteries and the naps are long and peaceful!


Elizabeth November 4, 2010 at 3:25 pm

AWESOME post! *sigh*
It’s why I love genealogy too.


Jennifer November 5, 2010 at 7:20 am

Love, love, love your post. My kids sometimes beg me to come back from the past and cook them dinner. I say…what’s wrong with mac and cheese? Feel so lucky to be sitting in a hotel room for three days while my husband is at a conference….uninterrupted time on the computer.


Nancy Hurley November 5, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Just enjoyed so much your description of the escape into the genealogy time machine. Sometimes it is difficult to describe the magnetism of it all. You have done such a great job. Sometimes, we think of acquiring the answers to our personal histories as the major reason for the time and energy spent. But perhaps the challenge and love of the hunt are equally as motivating or satisfying. Thanks for your very enjoyable post.


Michelle Goodrum November 6, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Once again you’ve put into words in that perfect way that I never could, what I experience and think!


Margel November 6, 2010 at 4:15 pm

This post will no doubt be mentioned in so many blogs that your server will crash. You said it better than anyone else. Genealogy isn’t something we DO, it’s an experience.


Marian Pierre-Louis November 7, 2010 at 11:50 am

I’m working on a project right now that is also taking over my brain. It’s not quite as intriguing as your case but none-the-less fascinating to me. I LOVE the photo you selected to go along with this post. Needless to say I’m hooked on genealogy too.


Ruy Cardoso November 8, 2010 at 2:17 pm

And here I thought this was going to be a post about tuberculosis and maybe a few other diseases just for fun — isn’t the photo a sanatorium?


Kerry Scott November 8, 2010 at 4:05 pm

I’m not sure where the photo was taken; the photographer is Norwegian, and so are the comments on his Flickr page. It was taken near Oslo, but I’m not sure of the setting.

I’m actually working on a family that had quite a few young people who died of consumption. Man, I hate those.


Shasta November 10, 2010 at 12:22 am

This is a wonderful post, and I really agree with everything, especially the soap opera part. I will research people remotely related to remotely related people to get a good story!


Teresa Rogers November 12, 2010 at 10:14 am

I lOVE this post! You could be talking about ME! My husband and grown children do not understand me. I lose all sense of time and space when I am on the hunt. My eyes glaze over and I try to tell them about some exciting discovery and they just look at me like I have two heads!


Chris Walker January 20, 2011 at 11:04 am

This idea of genealogical time travel is an obsession for me. I found this post looking for others with the same idea.

I have exhausted standard research, and DNA testing. I am faced with lines that I am convinced there is NO documentation for.

Granted what I do have is pretty substantial, 2 lines to Jamestown c. 1615, a couple of grandmother’s of noble (and therefore documented lines) and still there are so many unanswered questions.

Here’s how my time travel itinerary would line up.

A couple of trips to 19th century Alabama, and a couple of the same time to South Carolina.

17th Century Virginia. And here is where the list of travel destinations will never end. I would want to go back and interview every generation as they are uncovered. Along the way I suspect I will end up in England around the 5th century, did King Arthur really exist? Is Uther Pendragon really his father?

Back through the roman occupation of Britain, what do you want to know about Old King Cole?

Was Cleopatra of Jerusalem the Daughter of Cleopatra VII Ptolemy?

The list is never ending.


Andrea June 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Did you ever find out the father of the baby??


Kerry Scott June 24, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Not yet. This one will take a long time (and I’ve had limited research time lately). Someday…


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