Sunday, July 08, 2007

How to Clean Up Your Family History . . . or Your Resume!

It seems this story, in two minorly variant editions, has been circulating among genealogical researchers on the web for the last 10 years or so. But I never heard it until my brother Dave shared it with me from his blog.

I have chosen the version alternate to Dave's and have edited it for smoother reading:
Let's say that your great-great uncle, Remus Starr, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. A cousin has supplied you with the only known photograph of Remus. It shows him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture are these words:
Remus Starr: Horse thief. Sent to Montana Territorial Prison, 1885. Escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton Detectives, convicted and hanged, 1889.
Pretty grim situation, right?

Not to worry!

Simply crop the picture, scan in an enlargement and edit it with image processing software so that all one sees is a head shot. Next, rewrite the text:
Remus Starr was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1885, he devoted several years of his life to service at a government facility. Upon finally taking leave, he resumed his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, during an important civic function held in his honor, Uncle Remus passed away when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.
You have now given Uncle Remus a distinguished place inside the family tree, rather than hanging from it!
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