Genealogy is truly a cutthroat business. I mean some people feel as if they are sole owners of those that came before. I find the notion quite ridiculous because it is the descendants who belong to those who came preceded us, and by our mere existence, they own us. I begin this with the mind to discuss the types of genealogist that I have come across and have issue with.
As stated above, I have a real problem with “ancestor hogs.” Those are people who don’t want to share information but will drain you dry of any information that you may have. I am not advocating that genealogist become like me, but I share freely. I want my ancestors to be remembered. In fact, the lack of research that others are not doing on some of my lines makes me sad.
There are those who want you to do things in the manner in which they would. I am me. One thing I like about me is that I walk to the beat of a different drummer so well that I am actually following the surging riff of an electric guitar. That will not change. So the jazz hands that keep trying to tend to my tree and place all this manure that this gardener is not ready, willing, or able to tend to at the moment should tend to their own. There are good reasons that I don’t need to justify and will not explain as to why I am taking the road that I am taking on my journey.
I am mainly black (yes, I use this term more easily than African American), but have some white ancestors. I am just as connected and proud of both groups that I descend from. I want to know all of who made me. Along my path, I have come across three types of researchers. The first are those who couldn’t care less about race and just want to figure out our connection. I like these people a lot. The last two make me want cut myself, make a salt and vinegar solution, and use the edge of a knife to rub it in my wound. I am thinking of those of you who feel as if I should not research my European ancestors and only focus on my African ancestors and those European cousins who, even the nice ones, have a sense that our European ancestor is really just your ancestor who raped, had sex with, made a mistake with, or had some fun with (pick your theme) my ancestor and created something that is really not connected to your ancestor at all. I call both of these types of genealogist the “deniers.”
Now, people can create a myth or choose to research in whatever manner they deem fit. I only have an issue when it impedes on me finding out who I am. The former does not slow down my progress but irritates me, because they feel a need to email me and tell me where I need to focus. The latter can be split even further. A good majority give information but still refer to our common ancestor as their ancestor, make apologies for their ancestor, and express anger at their ancestor. Well, I can do all of that for our ancestor on my own.
The latter in that category, if they do accept contact, offer very little information or say there is no way we can be related. Well, I have taken DNA tests to supplement what little oral history that I have. In fact, I am a science gal and believe the science way more than any oral history. The stories usually speak of familial connections, whereas DNA speaks of a genetic connection. There is a difference. Surnames, family stories, pictures, and such are more indicative of familial connections. I am interested in sorting out the genetic connection; although, I am not saying familial connections are not as important. I am not trying to figure out my bloodline because I want something such as money, a phone call, an invite to the next family reunion–things that my genetic relatives may feel like I am not entitled to. I want only what is owed to me, and I can prove ownership with my and my known families DNA. That is giving my ancestor a seat at my pedigree table. Therefore, with the ways that names changed, the manner in which census takers and transcribers recorded it, and the sordid history in which blacks took names, the fact is that not even a good amount of my third cousins will share many of the surnames that I know.
The last type of genealogist that irks me is the genealogist who tries to create a fact out of a fallacy. These are the people who will never admit their tree is wrong. They can have a mother in the tree giving birth to a child after her recorded death, see that their supposed grandfather Ryan Bennett married their supposed grandmother Louise Jones but still leave “grandpa” Jack Avery in their tree, etc. And those of us who consider ourselves DNA genealogist are no better. People will swear up and down that the science is wrong if we cannot place our matches, if we don’t see the Cherokee princess’s DNA (insert whatever ethnicity some people consider exotic), do see some signs of DNA we don’t want to see, or “close” paper trail cousins aren’t matching.
No, my tree is not ready for primetime either, but I state that and look into it when others suggest that I may have gotten it wrong. I welcome that. And there are times when I don’t change things right away. I do acknowledge erroneous information as erroneous information though.
My rant is up and time for a drink now.