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Family History Research and Two 1917 Poems

Updated on June 19, 2014
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Family History Research is a Journey


When Ma is Sick


When Ma is sick she pegs away;
She's quiet, though, not much t' say.
She goes right on a-doin' things,
An' sometimes laughs, or even sings.
She says she don't feel extra well,
But then it's just a kind o' spell.
She'll be all right tomorrow sure,
A good old sleep will be the cure.
An' Pa, he sniffs an' makes no kick,
For women folks is always sick.
An' Ma, she smiles, lets on she's glad—
When Ma is sick, it ain't so bad.

—Scoville Bulletin, 1917.

(Author Unknown)

Be sure you scroll down after you read this hub, so you can see how different things are when Pa is sick!

The first time I saw the poem, When Ma Is Sick , and the poem, When Pa Is Sick , was in my Great Aunt Edith’s scrapbook which came into my possession in the 1980’s. Since that time, I have searched on the world wide web for an author of each poem, but I only find the notations that the authors are unknown. (If you find or know differently, please contact me.)

Aunt Edith was born in 1885 at Lumsden, Saskatchewan. That’s in Canada, folks. It’s one of the prairie provinces in the center of Canada. It’s beautiful there in the spring, summer and fall. The winters are harsh, icy and white.

Aunt Edith lived a good, full life. She married, but not too young.

I enjoyed looking through my Aunt Edith’s scrapbook many times during the 1980s. Even though she had not written anything in her own handwriting, I could sense some aspects of her personality through the items she chose to place in the scrapbook. She was especially fond of flowers. She had several floral postcards taped onto the pages. She had pressed flowers within the pages, too. They crumbled like ashes as I turned each page.

The poems entitled When Ma is Sick and When Pa is Sick were clipped from a newspaper in the 1920’s. In those days, newspapers did not have the resources they do today to get world news. So the editors put in all kinds of folksy things such as poems and commentaries. Another mainstay of newspapers in the 1800's and 1900’s was the use of biographical sketches of families in the locality of the newspaper. Today these biographical sketches can be very useful to both amateur and professional genealogists. The biographical family sketches are not completely accurate because they are not based on primary records such as a family Bible or government birth, marriage and death records or photocopies of church records, but still, they can hold some very good clues. These clues can be a starting point for genealogical research of one's family.


Pansies Bring to Mind Memories of my Grandmother

Photo courtesy of Photobucket.com. My grandmother's garden was beautiful.
Photo courtesy of Photobucket.com. My grandmother's garden was beautiful.

The Search For Information on a Lineage is Exciting

With so much genealogical information available online these days, much of what we need is at our fingertips. We can do our sleuthing from the comfort of our den or livingroom. For example, the world's largest repository of genealogical records is in Utah under the Granite Mountain. The records are available for research to anyone in the world. The records are being digitized by many thousands of volunteers and you or I can look at the records online. Have a look by going to www.familysearch.org and then in the middle of the screen, press on See Prototype for Searching Millions of Records . The total digitization process of all the records will take another few years. However, the records that are not yet digitized can be ordered on microfiche through any meetinghouse library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Members and non-members are welcome to do research at the family history libraries throughout the world.

Three decades ago, when I was searching out my Canadian-born ancestors, I contacted the Public Archives of Canada. Nobody had computers in those days. Correspondence was sent through the Canadian Post Office. It was exciting to wait with anticipation and finally receive a reply with hundreds of names and dates I needed.

The Public Archives of Canada held all the records I needed to get started -- including biographical sketches, land records and copies of letters. Soon I was able to use the clues from the Public Archives to know where to search -- which corporation, government office or church to contact. My searches eventually led to the knowledge that some of my great-great-great-great-great grandparents had been early settlers in the 13 colonies of early America. Working backwards on those lineages and also my mother’s lineages, I found that my ancestors had hailed from diverse cultures in England, Ireland, Belgium, Prussia, Russia, Germany and India.

The scrapbook of my great aunt’s was given to me by my father. Soon he became interested in helping with the genealogical research and for at least twenty years he carried out very analytical and successful searches on a few of our ancestral lineages.


All my Great Grandmothers and Great-Great Grandmothers Had Gardens

Photo courtesy of photobucket.com
Photo courtesy of photobucket.com

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

I wish my great aunt had left some journal entries for us. She could have written about her daily life, the ups and downs of marriage, the culture around her; anything and everything that interested her. Still, I am grateful that she did at least keep a scrapbook so that I could look through it, read the various articles and poems, and let my imagination take me to the time and place where she lived in Saskatchewan.

That’s the wonder of it all. When we delve into learning whatever we can about our ancestors, we gain a love for them. We don’t necessarily need the material or physical things they left behind such as a scrapbook. We can feel a closeness and an understanding of them. We can appreciate that they lived life – as we have to – and they probably did their best -- most of the time. I look forward to meeting every one of my ancestors one day.

Some of my favorite verses in the Bible (King James Version) are the last two verses in the last chapter of the last book in the Old Testament. (Malachi 4: vs 5 and 6.)

I love to learn about my ancestors: who they were, how they lived, who they loved and how they served. This is my introductory hub to the subject of the exciting things we find and the sacred feelings we experience when we search out our kith and kin.

They have only gone ahead.

Postscript: I think Great Aunt Edith liked these two poems -- When Ma Is Sick and When Pa Is Sick. When I read these poems, I can't help but chuckle and say, "Ain't that the truth?"

When Pa is Sick

When Pa is sick, he’s scared to death

And Ma and us just hold our breath.

He crawls in bed an’ puffs an’ grunts

And does all kinds of crazy stunts.

He wants the doctor and mighty quick!

For when Pa’s ill, he’s awful sick!

He gasps an’ groans an’ sort o’ sighs.

He talks so queer an’ rolls his eyes.

Ma jumps an’ runs an’ all of us

An’ all the house is in a fuss.

An’ peace and joy is mighty skeerce.

When Pa is sick it’s somethin’ fierce!

(Author Unknown)

What reminds you of your grandparents?
What reminds you of your grandparents? | Source
Flowers and bushes, vegetables and fruits remind me of my paternal grandmother.
Flowers and bushes, vegetables and fruits remind me of my paternal grandmother. | Source

© 2010 Pamela Kinnaird W

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    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image
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      Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      Dr irum, thank you for stopping by to read it.

    • Dr irum profile image

      Dr irum 6 years ago

      Thats very nice writing on importance of family history .

    • BEAUTYBABE profile image

      BEAUTYBABE 6 years ago from QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA.

      Hi Pam,

      I must apologise for not getting back to you sooner. I have been very sick, and trying to get my fairytale book published has been a big effort. I will let you in on a little secret, don't blame a bad virus or sore throat for not being able to sing. Everyone can sing, I had singing lessons, and you when you sing you don't rely on your voice box, even though a lot of people, including me, before I had lessons, think this. No, it is your diaphragm that is where the singing comes from it is all in your breathing.

      In fact, if I had a cold, I used to try and get out of lessons with that story and my teacher would say,"Pam you don't sing with your voice, you sing with your Diaphragm.

      I just thought you might like to know that bit of trivia.

      I loved this hub, and the poem that goes with it "When Pa gets sick". It is so good. I have a friend ,she always is looking into her family's background. She has even done a course on Geneology and is trying to talk me into it. My illness is so bad now that I couldn't take that on as well as my writing.

      But, it is lovely to finally meet you.

      I love being a follower and we will chat again. Love BB

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 7 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      Family history is great when it's possible to research right back. My own roots go back to Italy and Switzerland. It's great to think that long ago, my ancestors ate very different food, and spoke in language different from my own mother tongue of English. It's a thing I have always wanted to study - thanks for an interesting hub!

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image
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      Pamela Kinnaird W 7 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      Great to hear from you, Fastfreta. That's so nice that you have been able to attend a family reunion.

      Sometimes if I've ran into a real roadblock on a particular lineage, I choose an accredited genealogist who specializes in that area or belongs to the area's genealogical society of that town -- someone with at least 30 years experience -- and I pay the $50 or so an hour to get the lineage jumpstarted. A professional genealogist can usually find clues that we amateurs cannot. Back in the day -- 35 years ago -- I had a lineage that stumped me every which way I turned, so I hired a genealogist. $25 in those days got me at least a hundred new names of ancestors and all their dates from primary records -- and that was before the age of computers.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 7 years ago from Southern California

      I love this Pamela. I'm actually at a family reunion as I write this. Unfortunately it's not as easy to trace our family history as most. We've been in constant conversations trying to identify photos of long forgotten family members. Enough of me, back to the hub. I love both of the poems, they're just too cute. Very good Pamela.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image
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      Pamela Kinnaird W 7 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      Thank you, GarnetBird, for reading and commenting.

    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      I totally agree; my cousin recently sent me alot of family history she had uncovered on Ancestry.com--it helps to fill in the gaps.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image
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      Pamela Kinnaird W 7 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      SusanAdele, thanks for stopping by. I've started to read your Pink Ribbon entries and will continue. You are a brave lady.

    • SusanAdele profile image

      SusanAdele 7 years ago

      Those poems are precious! And oh so true! :)

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image
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      Pamela Kinnaird W 7 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      Thank you, Mentalist acer. I see you've been very busy with your writing. Good work! I'll be reading more soon.

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      Geneology is always an enlghtening Journey...thanks for lettiing us peek into yours Pamela;)

    • profile image

       7 years ago

      Though I don't have a scrapbook either, my family geneology is less complex as both parents were born in Ireland and emigrated to America. The first pioneer was my great aunt Belinda who traveled alone to New York as a girl. She supported my father's emigration. I recently visited Aunt Belinda's grave in New Jersey. At the age of 95, she died in 1981. Though driven by necessity, I marvel at the courage of this ancestor. We are all connected. Thanks for another thoughtful article. Cheers.