Praise the Saints and Dish Up the Dirt

wpid-img_20140825_103611.jpg There’s always a black sheep in every family.

If there isn’t…well, somebody must have scared ’em off long ago !

There was a certain aunt in my hubby’s family who was evidently removed from the planet at some point.  I stumbled upon her on an early census.  She lived at home with her parents and two brothers until she was about 20.  Then all of a sudden she is married, and widowed within about a year.  Hmmm.  His death certificate (signed by her) states his cause of death as homicide, fatal gun shot wound.  His body was claimed by his parents and I as far as I can tell, was hauled back to Tennessee.  See ya Robert !  That’s around the time that Aunt Mary walked off the face of the earth.  Poof!  Gone.

Now heaven knows, my bloodline is not Saint-laden.  I am probably descended from more than my share of bootleggers, moonshiners, batterers and hatchet murdering types than I care to claim.  A couple of them even got caught!

Honestly, one end of my gene-pool had a real “thing” for smacking others in the head with a hammer. I can’t imagine it was their fault. Maybe hammers were just laying around waiting in those days…maybe it’s what most women carried in their handbags…maybe they didn’t know how to “use your words” to settle differences. I’m not really sure, but as far as I’ve found, none of them ever seemed to have been ever proven directly fatal.

Some tales are a bit less violent, but illegal nonetheless. Like the bootlegger faction of the family who warehoused their stock on underground shelves dug into the sidewalls of the outhouse. Bathtub Gin was the (out)house specialty. When a buy order came in, one of the kids was lowered down the hole–yes, that hole–by rope to retrieve the merchandise.

I would like to think that the customers sat on the front porch  or maybe stood around on the curb chatting while their order was being filled from the “stockroom”. But, who knows, maybe they didn’t give a…

Well, you could guess where that was about to go!

So think aloud around the table today and dig up a few of your “less than suitable for Sainthood” stories. You could start by Googling some names of cousins or other “contemporaries.”   They could be more recent than you think!

Who knows what you may or may not find. But if it’s ‘juicy’…you know what Mom always says:

Maybe someone should write that down!


Author: Mom

I am a writer who just happens to love family trees. As the self proclaimed Family Historian and Writer in Residence at my house, I blog to others about family history writing. When I first began this journey, everyone was bored silly with my "family tree stuff." Once I started writing the stories down, everyone willingly joined in. Now the whole family pretty much participates! Imagine that ! Follow along, and you can gain a little family appreciation for all your hard nosed genealogical research while learning a little something about the craft of writing too.

24 thoughts on “Praise the Saints and Dish Up the Dirt”

  1. Great post. It was a great story. I love the twisted humor.
    I remember finding on ancestry a long lost relative that was part of a heist in NYC in the late 60’s. He ended up “missing” after going to jail.


    1. Sarah thanks!
      Your “heist” immediately made me think of the movie “Dog Day Afternoon.” Maybe you should write about it and title it like that~ Cousin Louie has his Dog Day Afternoon! Wouldn’t that be a good one?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post–I also laughed the whole you through it. You have a wonderful way of telling stories. I’m sure that family members were very upset about these individuals at the time–and it’s interesting how it becomes a fun story as the years pass.


  3. I don’t know why your posts aren’t showing up on my reader. I’ll have to check my settings for your site.
    Thanks for the chuckle and the grin. I loved this post. Can you imagine- lowering your child down THAT hole? I guess that goes with the mindset of the day. Why worry about one kid when you have 10 spares, right?


    1. Hehe! You’re probably right! Can you imagine if it were your ornery older sibling holding the rope? I know what would have happened at my house…splish, splash, hahaha…tell and you’re dead meat 🙂 Ah childhood!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My great-great-greatgrandfather pistol whipped his wife with intent to kill her. He was put on trial, but apparently got off because his wife wouldn’t testify. She was half Cherokee, and probably didn’t want to “go public.” Or, possibly, a man just couldn’t be convicted of whipping’ up on a “half breed.” At any rate, she moved back home with her parents and he disappeared from the records. Thanks for sharing your stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that makes me wonder how he disappeared! Do you suppose his father-in-law “ran him off.” If she were my daughter, that’s probably the most polite thing I would do to him 😉
      I hope your ggGrandma found peace and a better life from the day she left him ❤


  5. So far there are surprisingly few black sheep, can’t even think of one off hand. Doesn’t mean they’re not there, just that I haven’t found them or found out about them – yet. Nothing like a little spice to keep things interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! I never thought of any of my family members really as blacksheep until I started thinking about their “deeds and doings” as people rather than family stories. I guess you call that a real paradigm shift! Once I considered what an outsider would think…well my eyebrows kinda flew back!


  6. My husband is proud one of his forbears named Devil John Bethea who reportedly
    tried to hang some people on too short a tree branch. When he couldn’t finish the job, he had to break their legs to get them to dangle angle break their necks.


    1. Whew Lbeth! I would sleep with one eye open if you ever make your hubby mad…ya never know when/if ‘ol Devil John’s genes will inspire an “incident” 😉


  7. 🙂 The little tidbits of information we find are priceless. I have learned or found some in my family as well. Like hearing the confirmation and getting clues as to my grandfather’s original Ashkenazi Jewish connection, and also about my grandmother (his wife) being one of the orphans on the ‘Orphan Train’ that came across the plains to the midwest which is where they met. I had to laugh at the way you worded and described the above rascals in your post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Please be sure to really get that Orphan Train story down on paper for YOUR descendants! I feel like that event and the tales of Japanese Americans in internment camps are two very important parts of our history that are slowly being lost


      1. Yes, that’s another part I have yet to do. There is a writer I have come to know on WordPress that wrote the story of a Japanese POW in an internment camp. It is a novel but base on the information of her own grandparent I think as she has Japanese American ancestry in her family. Her name is Jan Morrill, and she wrote the book, The Red Kimono, which has done very well selling through Amazon books. I haven’t yet bought the book, but plan to. The book has had very good reviews. She has a Word Press blog site too.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Fabulous, I will recommend it to my Book Club! Both of these topics are such important moments in the history of our world. I am fascinated and can’t wait to read Red Kimono. Thanks for letting me in on that one!


  8. The black sheep of the family are an interesting lot to be sure. Finding them and their stories can be fun and at the same time a little disturbing. With all the newspapers going on line they are getting easier to find.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for sharing this little snippet of your family history, it made me laugh! The closest black sheep I have in my family is my third great grandfather Andrew John Ruglen, he was a newspaper proprietor in England. I didn’t know much about him until I checked the British newspaper archives and found out he w in court at one point for fraud charges! After that court case he went back to being a journalist the family moved and started using their middle names… So far he is the only shady character I’ve found be he sounds like an interesting man!


a penny for your thoughts dear~

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