At a past national conference, I heard a very entertaining speaker use the Dismal family as his example. “When you find your Dismal family, or are doing Dismal genealogy, or are writing up your Dismal story or are planing a reunion of your Dismal family…..” And he brought down the house.  So I got to wondering, is Dismal a viable surname?? Is there really a Dismal family?

On Google images, I found this sign pointing to Dismal Falls, and plenty of references to the Dismal River and the Dismal Swamp. Should we assume that these places were named for a Dismal family member?

The Family History Library Catalog has no surname books on the Dismal family. Ancestry.com has 45 listings under Public Family Trees for this sad surname.

There are a few Dismals in the 1880 census, the 1900 census, the 1910 census……. none in the 1920 census….. and a few in the 1930 census.  In the 1940 census I found two, William and James Dismal.  James Dismal was 23, living in rural South Carolina, having a first-grade education, occupation “unpaid family worker,” and (this is too good to be true), living with the BUMM family. Poor James; he surely sounds dismal.

Hope I’ve shared a smile with you on what is likely a dismal winter day; 22-degrees here with wind blowing across the snow.

Donna, aka Mother Hen, until next peek.