Author Topic: Obit-Maintaining a fib Dear Abby  (Read 12609 times)

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Elfmama

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Re: Obit-Maintaining a fib Dear Abby
« Reply #30 on: December 10, 2013, 05:58:12 AM »
I've never seen a wedding date in an obituary -- year, maybe, but not month and day. And I've never seen the ages or birth dates of the deceased's offspring in an obit. It's unlikely that any casual reader of an obit is going to whip out a calculator and start doing the math to uncover a case of premarital Scrabble. And the non-casual reader (i.e., family member) has already done the math and doesn't care.

I'd leave the date out of the obit and mention year only, or duration: "He married Margaret Jones in 1960." "He is survived by Margaret Jones, his wife of more than 50 years."

The mother of a former acquaintance of mine wrote her own obituary when she was diagnosed with a terminal illness. This woman had lied about her age for years and put a false birth date in her obit. Her daughter had some explaining to do with people who knew her and knew how old *she* was -- according to Mom's obit, Mom gave birth to her at about 11 or 12.
I know someone who insists that her birth certificate may be 36 years old, but SHE is only 26.   
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Winterlight

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Re: Obit-Maintaining a fib Dear Abby
« Reply #31 on: December 10, 2013, 10:21:09 AM »
My mom's obit didn't even mention the year. I think the LW is mad at her parents over something. 
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LazyDaisy

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Re: Obit-Maintaining a fib Dear Abby
« Reply #32 on: December 10, 2013, 12:56:58 PM »
I've never seen a wedding date in an obituary -- year, maybe, but not month and day. And I've never seen the ages or birth dates of the deceased's offspring in an obit. It's unlikely that any casual reader of an obit is going to whip out a calculator and start doing the math to uncover a case of premarital Scrabble. And the non-casual reader (i.e., family member) has already done the math and doesn't care.

I'd leave the date out of the obit and mention year only, or duration: "He married Margaret Jones in 1960." "He is survived by Margaret Jones, his wife of more than 50 years."

The mother of a former acquaintance of mine wrote her own obituary when she was diagnosed with a terminal illness. This woman had lied about her age for years and put a false birth date in her obit. Her daughter had some explaining to do with people who knew her and knew how old *she* was -- according to Mom's obit, Mom gave birth to her at about 11 or 12.
I know someone who insists that her birth certificate may be 36 years old, but SHE is only 26.
Yeah, well this next May will be the 20th anniversary of my 21st birthday. I've stopped having birthdays -- it's just anniversaries now.  ;)

Growing up my family "adopted" a grandparent. A woman my father worked for. She had an extremely long colorful life --- crossed the US in a covered wagon as a girl, outlived 3 husbands, and had become very wealthy from agriculture and real estate. She never had children of her own but had raised several nieces and nephews and had a very large extended family. She was of sound mind and body up until the last year of her life. On her 100th birthday, she would angrily declare she was only 80 when the subject of her age came up. A lady does not discuss her age.
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DCGirl

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Re: Obit-Maintaining a fib Dear Abby
« Reply #33 on: December 10, 2013, 04:12:21 PM »
Census takers might have written the numeral wrong or misunderstood someone's accent at the time.  So...no way to ask them which is correct NOW, though.
Not only dates!  The 1930 census for DH's family has his father listed as a GIRL.  Yes, we're certain it's the right family. An extremely rare surname, GFIL's given name and occupation, the place, the number of siblings, their names and ages, all are correct. The surname combined with the extremely rare given name of DH's grandmother pretty well cements it.  FIL's age is correct, but as well as listing him as a girl, for some reason the census taker recorded a female name that, while beginning with the same letter, has no other similarities to FIL's name.  Think "Dorothy" instead of "David."  :o

My grandmother is listed as a boy in 1910.  Her name is Rae, the census enumerator listed it as Ray and put her down as a boy, and the indexer called her Roy.  It happens.

DH's grandfather was baptized in Ireland a year before the birth date on his tombstone in New Jersey. 

DCGirl

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Re: Obit-Maintaining a fib Dear Abby
« Reply #34 on: December 10, 2013, 04:16:41 PM »
Also, a little genealogy humor for all the genealogists in this thread.

News Flash 1852 - It's New Year's Eve and Henry Hydenwell sits at his desk by candlelight.  He dips his quill pen in ink and begins to write his New Year's resolutions.

1. No man is truly well educated unless he learns to spell his name at least three different ways within the same document.  I resolve to give the impression of being extremely well educated in the coming year.

2. I resolve to see to it that my children will have the same names that my ancestors have used for six generations in a row.

3. My age is no one's business but my own.  I hereby resolve to never list the same age or birth year twice in any document or census.

4. I resolve to have each of my children baptized in a different church, either in a different faith or in a different parish.  Every third child will not be baptized at all, or will be baptized by an itinerant minister who keeps no records.

5. I resolve to move to a new town, new county, or new province at least every ten years, just before those pesky enumerators come around asking silly questions.

6. I will make every attempt to reside in  counties and towns where no vital records are maintained or where the courthouse burns down every few years.

7. I resolve to join an obscure religious cult that does not believe in record keeping or participating in military service.

8. When the tax collector comes to my door, I'll loan him my pen which has been dipped in rapidly fading blue ink.

9. I resolve that should my beloved Mary dies, I will marry another Mary.

10. I resolve not to make a will.  Who needs to spend money on a lawyer?


I have the man who married another Mary, of the same general age as the first Mary, in my family tree and it took me forever to unravel that story.

guihong

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Re: Obit-Maintaining a fib Dear Abby
« Reply #35 on: December 11, 2013, 08:35:14 AM »
 ;D DC Girl-I have some of those in my tree, too.

I've also found that some women had miraculous pregnancies that lasted only six months after the wedding  ::).  Sometimes the wedding date was fudged to include the conception of said child.

As for the OP, I'd leave it out.



Yvaine

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Re: Obit-Maintaining a fib Dear Abby
« Reply #36 on: December 11, 2013, 09:30:48 AM »
Also, a little genealogy humor for all the genealogists in this thread.

News Flash 1852 - It's New Year's Eve and Henry Hydenwell sits at his desk by candlelight.  He dips his quill pen in ink and begins to write his New Year's resolutions.

1. No man is truly well educated unless he learns to spell his name at least three different ways within the same document.  I resolve to give the impression of being extremely well educated in the coming year.

2. I resolve to see to it that my children will have the same names that my ancestors have used for six generations in a row.

3. My age is no one's business but my own.  I hereby resolve to never list the same age or birth year twice in any document or census.

4. I resolve to have each of my children baptized in a different church, either in a different faith or in a different parish.  Every third child will not be baptized at all, or will be baptized by an itinerant minister who keeps no records.

5. I resolve to move to a new town, new county, or new province at least every ten years, just before those pesky enumerators come around asking silly questions.

6. I will make every attempt to reside in  counties and towns where no vital records are maintained or where the courthouse burns down every few years.

7. I resolve to join an obscure religious cult that does not believe in record keeping or participating in military service.

8. When the tax collector comes to my door, I'll loan him my pen which has been dipped in rapidly fading blue ink.

9. I resolve that should my beloved Mary dies, I will marry another Mary.

10. I resolve not to make a will.  Who needs to spend money on a lawyer?


I have the man who married another Mary, of the same general age as the first Mary, in my family tree and it took me forever to unravel that story.

 ;D

Lynn2000

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Re: Obit-Maintaining a fib Dear Abby
« Reply #37 on: December 11, 2013, 10:45:25 AM »
DCGirl--yup, I think my ancestors have hit most of those. Except with a name like Smith instead of Hydenwell. ::) Also the rumor is that my ancestors in their small upper south tight-knit farming community had a distrust of the official recordkeepers and thus weren't in any hurry to correct records they knew were wrong. And with limited literacy sometimes they couldn't double-check even if they wanted to.

But even with all that, I think a venue like an obituary or a school project is very different from something official, even legal, like a world war draft registration card. When I'm doing family history research I do try to keep in mind that there are real people behind each document, even if they seem abstract to me because I've never met them. If there's confusion over spouses and which kid belongs where, yes, I want to sort that out, because that's part of the family line, but I'm not interested in minutely examining dates to see if they add up "properly" or otherwise passing judgment. I would prefer that people not outright lie in anything, especially something as public as an obituary, but honestly I've learned to take just about everything with a grain of salt until I see where the majority of the dates are falling.

This is a fascinating subject to me... If anyone wants to do a spin-off thread about genealogy, I'm all for it. (Or point me to it if it already exists!)
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Elfmama

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Re: Obit-Maintaining a fib Dear Abby
« Reply #38 on: December 11, 2013, 11:09:58 AM »
;D DC Girl-I have some of those in my tree, too.

I've also found that some women had miraculous pregnancies that lasted only six months after the wedding  ::) .  Sometimes the wedding date was fudged to include the conception of said child.

As for the OP, I'd leave it out.
Yes, it's amazing how many "premature" first babies lived to grow up, isn't it?  Considering that even a modern NICU can lose one born that early...

I also have my eeeevul suspicions when the family records say that there were 3 or 4 kids, born about 2 years apart, and then no more for 10 - 12 years.  And then, surprise! -- a "bonus baby," born just about the time that an earlier daughter reaches her mid-teens.
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wolfie

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Re: Obit-Maintaining a fib Dear Abby
« Reply #39 on: December 11, 2013, 11:37:42 AM »
;D DC Girl-I have some of those in my tree, too.

I've also found that some women had miraculous pregnancies that lasted only six months after the wedding  ::) .  Sometimes the wedding date was fudged to include the conception of said child.

As for the OP, I'd leave it out.
Yes, it's amazing how many "premature" first babies lived to grow up, isn't it?  Considering that even a modern NICU can lose one born that early...

I also have my eeeevul suspicions when the family records say that there were 3 or 4 kids, born about 2 years apart, and then no more for 10 - 12 years.  And then, surprise! -- a "bonus baby," born just about the time that an earlier daughter reaches her mid-teens.

That happened in my family. My little sister is 12 years younger then me and 14 years younger then my older sister and she IS my younger sister. I would be very insulted if someone insinuated that my little sister is really my niece. And I wouldn't think kindly on anyone who has nothing better to do then to count years and cast suspicions around.

ClaireC79

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Re: Obit-Maintaining a fib Dear Abby
« Reply #40 on: December 11, 2013, 06:00:18 PM »
Yes, it's amazing how many "premature" first babies lived to grow up, isn't it?  Considering that even a modern NICU can lose one born that early...

I remember reading a news article about a baby born at 23 weeks and surviving (so 4 months early) and someone on there claiming that their granddad was born SIX MONTHS early in the 1920s and he's fine - so why the shock?  Hmm think it's more likely greatgrandma had something under her wedding dress than a baby was born at 12 weeks gestation and survived

blarg314

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Re: Obit-Maintaining a fib Dear Abby
« Reply #41 on: December 11, 2013, 07:42:28 PM »

From a historical perspective, the much younger "siblings" of a teenage daughter and six month pregnancies were pretty common fictions to cover up unexpected pregnancies. So were nine month visits to "an aunt in the country" for young women.

There were cases where the child of a couple was actually their niece or nephew - the parents had too many kids, and the aunt and uncle couldn't have them (or were better off) so they adopted the child. Plus a rate of children with falsely listed fathers that is a *lot* higher than we would think at first, particularly with no DNA testing. And kids who were adopted, but the adoption wasn't talked about. Or kids from a short first marriage who were folded into a second marriage and treated by everyone, including the kids, as full siblings of younger kids.

These things were a lot more common than I think we realize - limited options to control fertility and strong societal punishments for out of wedlock children didn't mean people were always chaste outside of marriage, or never had affairs, but society developed little tricks and agreed on deceptions to cover up or smooth over problem, so that they could still keep the community running reasonably smoothly.

So basically, it's pretty much guaranteed that somewhere in an extended family tree of a few generations there some sort of situation where the documentation doesn't match the biological reality.

Interestingly, in the country I live in, birth certificates *now* have entries for the mother and the mother's husband. If the father is not married to the mother, he doesn't go on the birth certificate.


Elfmama

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Re: Obit-Maintaining a fib Dear Abby
« Reply #42 on: December 11, 2013, 09:14:00 PM »
Yes, it's amazing how many "premature" first babies lived to grow up, isn't it?  Considering that even a modern NICU can lose one born that early...

I remember reading a news article about a baby born at 23 weeks and surviving (so 4 months early) and someone on there claiming that their granddad was born SIX MONTHS early in the 1920s and he's fine - so why the shock?  Hmm think it's more likely greatgrandma had something under her wedding dress than a baby was born at 12 weeks gestation and survived
In some places and some times, it behooved a young man of the working class to make sure that the young woman he was considering marrying was fertile.  Divorce was only available for the nobility and for only a few reasons, so if he got stuck with a barren wife, he had to resign himself to a childless marriage.   And that was a disaster.  No children meant no free help on the farm or family business, and no one to take care of them as they aged. 
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Elisabunny

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Re: Obit-Maintaining a fib Dear Abby
« Reply #43 on: December 12, 2013, 12:42:27 PM »
;D DC Girl-I have some of those in my tree, too.

I've also found that some women had miraculous pregnancies that lasted only six months after the wedding  ::) .  Sometimes the wedding date was fudged to include the conception of said child.

As for the OP, I'd leave it out.
Yes, it's amazing how many "premature" first babies lived to grow up, isn't it?  Considering that even a modern NICU can lose one born that early...

I also have my eeeevul suspicions when the family records say that there were 3 or 4 kids, born about 2 years apart, and then no more for 10 - 12 years.  And then, surprise! -- a "bonus baby," born just about the time that an earlier daughter reaches her mid-teens.

That happened in my family. My little sister is 12 years younger then me and 14 years younger then my older sister and she IS my younger sister. I would be very insulted if someone insinuated that my little sister is really my niece. And I wouldn't think kindly on anyone who has nothing better to do then to count years and cast suspicions around.

I find it offensive as well.  Yes, teen pregnancies did happen, but so did secondary infertility, miscarriages, and still births.   
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VorFemme

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Re: Obit-Maintaining a fib Dear Abby
« Reply #44 on: December 12, 2013, 07:53:59 PM »
;D DC Girl-I have some of those in my tree, too.

I've also found that some women had miraculous pregnancies that lasted only six months after the wedding  ::) .  Sometimes the wedding date was fudged to include the conception of said child.

As for the OP, I'd leave it out.
Yes, it's amazing how many "premature" first babies lived to grow up, isn't it?  Considering that even a modern NICU can lose one born that early...

I also have my eeeevul suspicions when the family records say that there were 3 or 4 kids, born about 2 years apart, and then no more for 10 - 12 years.  And then, surprise! -- a "bonus baby," born just about the time that an earlier daughter reaches her mid-teens.

Mom was 15 when her little sister was born - but there were several miscarriages...and Grandma was the one visibly pregnant in the photos, Mom was entirely too skinny to have hidden a pregnancy at the time.

Some twenty-three years ago now, I was talking to an older woman while waiting for Ambrosia Hino to get out of her second grade classroom - her "youngest" was her adopted grandchild - apparently something happened (she didn't say what) but that their daughter went off to college while Mom & Dad had one more little girl to raise.  She'd be about thirty by now...and her birth mother in her mid forties.
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