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A Genealogist’s Halloween

By Daniel Hubbard | October 20, 2013

Ding Dong!

(latch clicks, door opens)

“Trick or Treat!”

“Oh, aren’t you cute! A broken microfilm reader! And what are the rest of you?”

“I’m really inaccurate search results!”

“Oh, yes I see! And look, you’re a gedcom file that includes King Arthur and Hercules. Wow, now that is scary!”

“Who else do we have here? You look like Frankenstein’s Monster.”

“I’m an ancestor assembled from spare parts!”

“Oh No! Terrible. So what would you like? I have some lovely microfilms.”

“Oh we love those!”

“Just don’t scroll through them all at once, they’ll give you blurry vision.”

(door closes)

“The volunteers here are always so nice!”

“Wow, I got two “fun sized” New York state census reels for Oswego County. What did you get?”

“I got a reel of Cleveland marriage licenses!”

“Mine says ‘Baptisms: St. Underpants upon Washbasin Parish, Ripplethwaite’ … I’ll never understand British research.”

“No, me neither.”

“You don’t suppose there are real underpants in there?”

“Hope not… Hey is that Billy across the street? It looks like him and it would be just like him to dress up that gross.”

“Hey, Billy, that you? What are you?”

“Yep, it’s me. I’m undead! I was born in 1674 but I’m marked “Living” online.”

“That’s creepy!”

“Yes, so I’m doomed to wander the earth on Halloween night in search of my probate packet.”

“I think I know where we could find it.”


“There!” (points, ominous background music is heard, the children are suddenly subdued.)

“But mom told me never to go there.”

“We can’t go there. I hear researchers go in never to be seen again.”

“But if Billy needs his probate packet, you know we have to look there now. By tomorrow it will vanish again for another year.”

(Moments later on the front steps)

“I don’t know. I can already smell smoke. I think we’re too late.”

“Nonsense. That’s probably just the smell of the clerks’ candles coming through the window.”

“I dunno. It looks like no one has been in there for 200 years and I don’t think we should go in either.”

Suddenly, lightning flashes, the roof bursts into flames and spectral clerks pour from the windows and doors shrieking and flinging shadowy buckets of water all about. The children freeze in terror as one last archivist-wraith flies straight through the main door screeching and lamenting. He turns toward the little genealogists and bellows the dire warning-

“No one gets probate packets from The Burnt Courthouse.” Then vanishes into the night with a blood-curdling laugh.

The children scream and run as fast as they can back to Billy’s house, barely slowing down to scoop up the poll lists and session laws that flutter from their bags as they run.

Finally, safe at Billy’s, his mother consoles them with extra helpings of hot cider and pension records but poor Billy will have to wait another year for his chance to remove the “Private- Living” label from his costume.


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Topics: Creativity, Genealogy, Humor | 4 Comments »

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4 Responses to “A Genealogist’s Halloween”

  1. Nancy Says:
    October 20th, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Thanks for the chuckle. Poor Billy.

  2. Daniel Hubbard Says:
    October 22nd, 2013 at 12:16 am

    You are welcome. Glad it made you chuckle! I’m hoping that people find it to be “a scream.”

  3. Maja Says:
    November 1st, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Delicious. Thank you.

    At the same time – if you don’t mind me saying – it made me realize that genealogists are truly a special kind of nerd. I would twit it, I would, but none of my “normal” friends would get it. Double thank you.

  4. Daniel Hubbard Says:
    November 1st, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Thanks Maja,
    Glad you enjoyed it! You’re right, there are many types of nerd.