Friday, 10 August 2012

Van and Genealogy

Is Van the Universal Man? A modern day da Vinci?  As I troll (!) the internet I can't find any field of endeavour untouched by the stubby fingers of George Ivan Morrison.  From the Corn and Cotton Genealogy blog I read the amazing, almost bizarre,  What Van Morrison taught me about genealogy… post.   Here is most of that post by Stephanie Pitcher Fishman followed by a few loyal reader comments.  (As I read the reader comments I can't help put think this is how Van Fans or Vanatics sound to outsiders: obsessed and slightly loopy.)  

Those who know me understand that I’m not a morning person. As I listened to Van Morrison on Pandora along with my coffee I realised that I have a new anthem for my genealogical pursuits: Days Like This.   

When it’s not always raining there’ll be days like this
When there’s no one complaining there’ll be days like this

When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

I had one of those days recently. I had a family line (DODDS) that was just falling into place. I found family groups, fathers and mothers, certificates of all sorts, and a Union Army company with a great history… it was a day where the genealogy switch was flipped. It was a day like THAT. I hadn’t started with a plan which made it even better. I had a free day unexpectedly, so I simply sat down with my notebooks, RootsMagic, and decided to see which relative would come when I called.

When you don’t need an answer there’ll be days like this

When you don’t meet a chancer there’ll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit

Then I must remember there’ll be days like this

Every one of my DODDS relatives were exactly where I needed them to be. They migrated in a pattern and were buried near relatives. They named their children beautiful names that weren’t repeated, like Olive B. “Ollie” DODDS. I could see one husband matched with one wife who lived in a beautiful area that had wonderful records scanned and indexed on FamilySearch. My genealogical puzzle was coming together.
When everyone is up front and they’re not playing tricks
When you don’t have no freeloaders out to get their kicks
When it’s nobody’s business the way that you want to live
I’ll just have to remember there’ll be days like this
My 3rd grandfather, Isaac S. Dodds, played no tricks on me. He was a lovely man who laid out his life in an orderly fashion. I’m still looking for information that will help me learn about his life beyond the dates, places, and occupations, but I have a good lead on him. A farmer and Civil War veteran (48th OH Co. A) he had a large family in beautiful Highland County, Ohio. I’ve located 11 children so far, including my 2nd great-grandmother, Carrie Amelia (DODDS) Ladd, whose small New Testament Bible I have sitting on my desk. I love that her signature is on the inside cover in pencil. Isaac and his wife, Mary, were married for 58 years before he passed away. In a very short amount of time I was able to see his life through documents such as Civil War Veteran’s Pension applications and a death certificate from the State of Ohio.
Then I met his father, William. My perfect genealogy day was met with twists, turns, confusion, a possible missing wife, and an part of the state where several William Dodds all resided in a small area. I’m still not even sure that I have the right man. But, that’s OK. I was reminded with my perfect puzzle-piece-fitting day that although there is some confusion, there will still be days like the day I met my 3rd great-grandfather, Isaac.
 Some Reader Responses

 Jen Alford   -   How wonderful! Those lyrics really do fit well with how genealogy research ebbs and flows. I’m glad you were able to make so much progress on your free day. 
Stephanie Pitcher Fishman   -   Isn’t it a great fit? And, it’s a perfect reminder. We have to hold onto those days where all the family happens to be exactly where they need to be because it isn’t going to last very long. 

Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana   -   I ‘knew’ this was gonna be a great post, and it is. Indeed, it makes me wonder how, or even if, music influenced our ancestors lives. Right now, this minute…that thought popped into my head! I know that you have lots of interesting branches with quite a few odd leaves, so it’s wonderful to know that this one sturdy branch gave you so much. Now, onto the crooked ones.
Shelley Bishop   -   Oh how I love days like that, Stephanie! There’s nothing sweeter than when things fall into place. And the fact that you have Carrie’s old Bible? Doubly sweet. What a great analogy to the song. Now I’m going to have it in my head all day.
Cindy Freed   -   Congratulations on your perfect genealogy day! How wonderful you found several members of one of your family lines and a Civil War ancestor to boot! That’s exciting!
Magda   -   That Van Morrison song. How inspirational!
Devon Lee   -   What a great post. I love when things fall into place. Days like these become so much the sweeter when we have crooked, or perhaps withered branches.


  1. thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks... I think? Apparently a lot of people seem to agree (or are curious) and like it because this is my all-time highest rated post. :)

  3. Here's a great explanation of copyright. While I appreciate that you are sharing my info, you need to remove my photos and also only print a portion of my material, not the entire post.

    I'm also requesting that you remove the comments of my readers. Thanks.

  4. As I said in a private email to you I do know copyright. It's part of my job. The law as it applies here allows images and writings to be taken/stolen/borrowed whatever as long as it stays in the electronic format i.e. the internet. This is why Google images takes every photo anyone posts. It's completely legal.

    My only goal is to get info about Van out there and to encourage his fan base to grow. In the case of the post I "borrowed" (or stole) from you, it was done simply to show how people apply Van to all areas of life. He's had an amazing impact on all kinds of people. Notice that my blog is not monetized in any way. It's a completely not for profit hobby. Finally, I urge anyone reading this to buy Van's music. And Ms Fishman I bear you no animosity. I think your blog is great and I think genealogy is a great hobby of intellectual interest.