The Humorous Underside of Genealogy

In a recent article titled “The Humorous Side of Genealogy,” I reviewed the book Collecting Dead Relatives. The book, a collection of humorous stories involving real event from years of the authors genealogy research, will touch the funny bone of any family historian. Laverne Galeener-Moore’s stories are so enlivening and were so well received, she wrote a second book, Further Undertakings of a Dead Relative Collector.

Like her first book, this second book of funny stories will have you in stitches. “With a swipe at foreigners, computer freaks, reluctant letter-writers, and certain best-forgotten ancestors—not to mention the hell on earth when the microfilm reader is on the fritz—” Moore takes the reader deep inside the struggles every genealogist faces and finds a way to see the bright side of life; though, she may not have thought these situations funny at the time. The more experience you have as a researcher the more you will appreciate the witty humor found in these stories.

Take another break from your research and have a laugh, reading Further Undertakings of a Dead Relative Collector.


Table of Contents


Catarrh of bile ducts Can Lay You Low

Oh, Granny, Where Can Your Ashes Be?

Scatter! It’s a Computer!

Will the D.O.O.D.O.O. Replace the D.A.R.?

Curses! An Unidentified Photograph!

So Your BODENSCHATZ Came from Rugenwaldermundenbergerfurt?

GAS Attacks Salt Lake City

Duck! It’s a Minié Ball!

How to Make Sure Your Goal is Showing

Sew Those So-and-Sos Into a Quilt

Librarians Runnin’ Wild

Cruising the Ohio 200 Years Later

Mail Monomania

Words to Set You Apart (Probably Far Apart)


Add this great stocking stuffer to your wish list, order Further Undertakings of a Dead Relative Collector from Family Roots Publishing Company; Item #: GPC2106. Parody Ads & and a New Ad Campaign (for real!) took a hit on their stock prices today, dropping as much as 11%. I don’t think there was any connection, but the following ad parody is currently being run on the Internet. Warning, the F word with *** is found more than once in the parody…

By the way, Duncan/Channon has been hired by to create and launch a fully integrated ad campaign – taking the place of Penabrand.

Their website has posted the following announcement:
D/C’s pretty proud, too, now that the world’s largest online resource for family histories,, has tapped the agency to lead its creative efforts. The D/C team is developing a fully integrated campaign, including TV, digital, print and other media, set to launch in Q4.

With more than 2.4 billion individual profiles, six billion records and 24 million family trees, is the leader in helping ancestral explorers in the US and overseas discover, preserve and share the histories of their families. Among its happy subscribers is San Francisco’s R. Duncan family, who were proud to discover this daguerreotype of great-great-great grandpa Benjamin “B.J.” Duncan (1834-1891), the caption to which reads (cross our hearts and hope to die): “So manly and handsome.”

Read the announcement at the Duncan/Channon website.

The Comedian Uses Genealogy for the Fun of It

The comedic community often uses their own families to get laughs. I realized that my family history was hilarious years ago. Not being a comedian, I haven’t developed the talent to portray that to others very well, but it’s certainly true. Those of you who know me well most likely realize that I don’t take life too seriously though. Life’s short. Laugh as much as possible while you can…

The following is an item out of Australia. It seems that comedian Tom Gleeson has found his family history rather entertaining.

GENEALOGY can be funny. Just ask loved Melbourne comedian Tom Gleeson, who got quite a kick out of visiting his ancestral home Tom Gleesonin Ireland and finding a whole town exactly like himself.

Gleeson visited the country his relatives left four generations back, hoping to find a culture “so much more interesting” than his own.

On the up-side, everybody looked like him. On the downside he discovered “all Gleesons look at a really cool place to live and then live near it, not in it”.

“Roger Gleeson lived in Nenagh, near Tipperary, and it’s a boring little town, way out of Dublin. Then he migrated to Mudgee, a pretty ordinary place outside Sydney. And I came to Melbourne – now that’s cool – but I bought my house in Romsey,” he says.

Read the full article in the March 10, 2011 edition of the Herald Son.

“If I Bought a Cemetery, People Would Stop Dying”

The Burlington Liars Club, which began in 1929 as a lighthearted way to honor the creativity and humor of good exaggeration, said it received almost 500 entries this year.

The runners-up include this line from Ellen Everts of New London: “My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying.”

Online searches find dozens of references to the cemetery quote… That’s no big deal, said Milz, a Liars Club member for three years. The club is about lighthearted fun and passing on good humor, not being constrained by strict regulations, he said.

Read the full AP article in the January 1, 2011 edition of the Times Herald.

Renee’s Utah Census Form

I figure as long as we can make fun of ourselves, and laugh… and then laugh some more… we’re going to be okay. Renee posted the “Utah Census Form” on her blog this evening. I absolutely loved it. It’s been a very high-pressure day, and this was just what I needed. Please – lighten up and go check it out.

Warning, if you’re not acquainted with Utah and our special culture here, you may have no idea what this is all about.

Which Way? the Garbage Dump or the Cemetery?

My friend, Jeff Bockman, just sent me a note with a link to the website, complete with Big Corn Island Photos. For those of you who might not know about Big Corn Island, it’s in Nicaragua. Check out the tenth photo down in the center column. Note the unique spelling… Jeff says, “I guess this is not part of the “green movement” with funerals and burials.”

Fresh Resource Now Posted for Those Dealing in the Dead – Oh, Lay Me Down in Forest Lawn…

Nomis Publications – the folks who brought us the “Yellow Book” of Funeral Homes, has just announced a completely nomispublications-logoupdated and easy-to-use website. I’ve been a Nomis fan since I got my first “Yellow Book” from them (I believe that was 1986). Dollarhide knew about my interest in Nomis, and emailed yesterday with the information that the new site was up. So I went over to to take a look.

Nomis is in the business of publishing directories of interest to those in the funeral business – whether as principals in funeral homes, cemeteries, or as suppliers to these services. However, they also have a website that every genealogist should be aware of. The following online directories are of interest to genealogists:

Directory of Funeral Homes: International in scope, and divided into three parts; United States, Canada, and International. Note that these aren’t just mortuaries that happen to belong to an association, but a listing that should cover all of them.

Cemetery Directory for the United States: It may be subdivided into three categories prior to a search (human, pet, veteran).

U.S. Daily Newspapers: Searchable by city and state.

Cemetery and Funeral Associations: Searchable by city and/or state. At a quick glance, it looks to me like there are in excess of 175 associations of this nature in the United States.

Of course, the Funeral Home and Cemetery directories are probably the databases of the most interest to genealogists. It looks to me like there are right at 1000 funeral homes currently listed as operating in the United States alone. Searches can be made by name of the funeral home, city, and state or any combination thereof. The directory listing gives the name of the place, address, and phone and fax numbers.

Searching on the City of Everett, in Washington State, I got four hits. See the following screen shot:

In searching the cemetery listing, I just looked for Forest Lawn, leaving out any specific place. Would you believe there are better than 60 of them in the U.S? Again, the directory listing gives the name of the place, and address, as well as phone and fax numbers.

One more note. The use of the Nomis Publications website is free. However, they do ask that you register when you first visit the site. It only takes a minute or two…

Now for a few old John Denver lyrics…

Forest Lawn

Oh lay me down in forest lawn in a silver casket
Put golden flowers over my head in a silver basket
Let the drum and bugle corp play taps while the cannons roar
And sixteen libertied employees sell souvenirs from the funeral store

I want to go simply when I go
They’ll give me a simple funeral there I know
With a casket lined in fleece
And fireworks spelling out rest in peace
Oh take me when I’m gone to forest lawn

Oh lay me down in forest lawn they understand there
They have a heavenly choir and a military band there
Just put me in their care I’ll find my comfort there
With sixteen planes and a last salute they’ll drop across in a parachute

I want to go simply when I go
They’ll give me a simple funeral there I know
With a hundred strolling strings
And topless dancers with golden wings
Oh take me when I’m gone to forest lawn

Oh, come, come, come, come
Come to the church in the wild wood
Kindly leave a contribution in the pale
Be as simple and as trusting as a child would
And we’ll sell you the church in the dale

To find a simple resting place is my desire
To lay me down with a smiling face comes a little bit higher
My likeness cast in brass will stand in plastic grass
While hidden weights and springs tip it’s hat to the mourners filing passed

I want to go simply when I go
They’ll give me a simple funeral there I know
I’ll lie beneath the sand
With piped in tapes of billy graham
Oh take me when I’m gone to forest lawn

Rock of ages cleft for me
Forest’s lightly higher fee
Oh take me when I’m gone to forest lawn


Made popular by John Denver; Words & music by Tom Paxton

Just One More…

Just One More
By Debra Hutsell

“Dang it” he said, throwing aside his umpteenth roll of microfilm. Tom rubbed his eyes and aching back. He didn’t have the time to pursue this search, but he didn’t know how to stop. “Who doesn’t know who their grandparents were?” he chided himself.

He heard his stomach growl. In his zeal to look at one more roll of film he had forgotten to eat lunch and it was almost dinner time. Just one more, he thought putting on another roll of film. He rolled through the list of names; family’s and neighbors from a small town in Indiana.

While Tom rolled through the mind numbing list of names, he tried to remember exactly what led him to this point.

Over a decade ago, as a curious boy, he found a picture of a young man taken about the time of the 1860’s. It had the name of a town printed on it, Gosport, Indiana. Could this be where the picture was made? Could this be a picture of an ancestor and did he live in Gosport in the 1860’s?”

He reasoned a small town, government census rolls, how long could it take? Tom started his short search for his ancestors. That was over a decade ago; now as a young working father with his own curious little boy, Tom needed some answers. When his boy asked, “Who were my great grandparents?” He wanted to be able to tell him.

He reached the end of the census roll without success.

The growling in his stomach had become a roar and even the librarian looked up. “Just one more,” Tom thought putting on another roll of the government enumerations.

“There they are.” The names seemed to jump off the microfilm as if a jolt of electricity had gone through him.

“What were they like?” The hunger had become insatiable now. He wanted, “Just one more source.”

[Editor’s note – I bet you can relate to this guy’s problem… Right?]

The above column was originally printed in the Sept/Oct 2006 edition of the Genealogical Helper. Used by permission.

What’s in a Name? 10 Cases Where Moniker Maketh the Man

Daniel FinkelsteinDaniel Finkelstein writes an entertaining column called Comment Central that has absolutely nothing to do with genealogy. However, the man writes a killer column. Last December he did a piece called “What’s in a Name?” that I’m still chuckling about. I doubt many of you read Finkelstein, so I’m now inviting you to check out his thoughts on “nominative determinism – the idea that there is a link between people’s names and their occupation.”

In his column, Finkelstein takes on the following folks, “by name:”

  • Bernard Madoff
  • Theodore Hee
  • Cardinal Sin
  • Judge Judge
  • Amy Freeze
  • Patty Turner
  • Governor Blogojevich
  • Dr. Fred Grabiner
  • J W Splatt and D. Weedon
  • Usain Bolt
  • Paige Worthy

Read Finkelstein’s column at the Times Online website.

Death Certificates in the Mail

From Genealogy Bulletin No. 60 (December 2003), in “Digging up the Undertaker”:

Something as simple as obtaining a copy of a death certificate in the mail can be an early reward that will sustain a genealogist for months. It can be very gratifying.

Like many genealogists who are regularly expecting a death certificate to come in the mail, I used to stand at the mail box at the curb outside our house in anticipation. The postman once remarked that I was the only person on his route that got excited to get a death certificate in the mail. Apparently, I used to shout, “Alright! There’s that death certificate I’ve been waiting for!” The first time this happened, I got a very strange look from him – but after a few more death certificates came in the mail, he got used to it and would say, “Sorry, I guess no one died this week,” when there was no mail that day.