I get to see my friend, Ron Arons, at many of the genealogy conferences, as he often shows up (in costume?), and tells us about his nefarious ancestors. A few years back, Ron wrote an excellent book about The Jews of Sing-Sing. That got him started as being the go-to guy when one wanted information on researching one’s black sheep ancestors. Ron later wrote another volume entitled Wanted! US Criminal Records. WANTED! lists archives, libraries, courts and online sites containing numerous sets of criminal information. In this 388-page reference book, you get examples of documents you can find online and in repositories across the country. The book includes a primer on how to conduct genealogical research on criminals, including various tips learned from Ron’s vast experience in the field – as well as the jail, the prison, and the local police precinct…
The following excerpt is from aa article by Sue Shellenbarger, posted in the January 15, 2013 edition of the Wall Street Journal.
Amateur genealogists, beware. Researching your ancestry doesn’t always turn up heroes and royalty. It may turn up a felon, a bigamist or another unsavory character.
New York filmmaker Heather Quinlan found more than a few skeletons when digging into her ancestors’ closet. Among them: Thomas Fagan, her grandmother’s great-grandfather, who had killed a man during a drunken bar fight in 1868 (reportedly hitting him over the head with a chair in self-defense).
She also turned up evidence of a murderous feud—set off by a scandalous elopement—that had engulfed her grandfather’s ancestors in the 1830s. One forebear was hanged for the killings, but others, including her fourth great-grandfather, escaped after the jailer forgot to lock the cells. “It was like the Hatfields and McCoys meet Romeo and Juliet, with a touch of ‘Mayberry R.F.D.’ thrown in,” Ms. Quinlan says.
Washingtonians will celebrate their rich documentary heritage at a range of events throughout the state during October’s Washington Archives Month with the theme, “Law & Order in the Archives: Crooks, Cops and Courts.”
They’ve posted a very interesting website to go along with the celebration.
There’s an interesting blog titled “Family skeletons detrimental to healing” posted on the ScienceBlog website that set me to thinking… Genealogists seem to love to drag out the family skeletons. Good old adultery, lying, cheating, stealing, and even a murder now and then all seems to get the true genealogist all fired up to find more of these “black sheep” in the family. One of my most popular lectures is called The “X-files,” and deals with family scandals. I get mine out and rattle them around a bit. I start the lecture with a cartoon that I call the Meitzler Family. It shows one lonely white sheep in the midst of an entire flock of black ones. That’s my family, and I’m proud of it. Based on the latest research on the subject, I should handle disease well – and live a long happy life. The following is a teaser from the ScienceBlog.
Family secrets such as alcoholism, abuse and unwanted pregnancies are quite common and an obstacle to healing when disease strikes, according to Marie-Dominique Beaulieu, a professor at the Université de Montréal’s Department of Family Medicine.
“I see it in my practice,” says Beaulieu, who also holds the Dr. Sadok Besrour Family Medicine Research Chair. “Family secrets lead to feelings of guilt, anger and helplessness. These feelings have a considerable impact on health, specifically on the capacity to adapt and find a balance in times of disease.”
American actor Jack Nicholson discovered in the newspaper that his maternal grandmother was, in fact, his mother and that his mother was in reality his sister. Not everyone carries such dramatic secrets, yet difficult family situations are quite commonplace.