Barry's Relatively Speaking: The Year Is Right (Wrong)!

Posted on Dec 14, 2012

Barry's Relatively Speaking shares the personal experiences and stories of genealogists found in the Everton Genealogical Helper Magazine collection on MyGenShare.com. Willis shares the following experience.

Years ago when I started to construct a family tree my mother was always vague and evasive as to the year of her birth. For women of her generation a lady's age was a well guarded secret.

Every time I queried her as to the year of her birth she gave me a different year. She never gave the same year twice. I was quite sure she was not about to divulge the true date.

This went on for quite some time, so I decided to settle the question once and for all. I wrote to the courthouse in Rock Island. Illinois, and asked for a copy of her birth certificate.

When the certificate finally arrived, showing that she had indeed been born in Rock Island, Illinois, November 29, 1881,1 presented her with the absolute, unquestioned proof.

Mother studied the official document intensely for a few minutes, rereading it several times.

After some deliberation then pronounced with indignation, "Well, I see the clerk down there made a mistake in getting the year right (wrong)!"

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