2017 May 24 Wed

Do You Always Tell The Truth?

Do You Always Tell The Truth?
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This is the second part of a Truth mini-series where I examine the facts of yesterday and today when it comes to leaving behind truthful records. If you’ve done some genealogical studies, have you ever hit that point when something didn’t quite add up? Was it because of a ‘lack of information’ or ‘misinformation’? When we read these records, sometimes we can’t help but wonder ‘What were they thinking?!’ when we examine them. But let’s look at some of today’s problems just to see how truthful some of us are being.

When it comes to names, this is just as sticky of a web to fall into in regards to full names, real names, pet names, middle vs. first names, and the ever popular nicknames. I find it hard to believe every boy called “Bubba” is really named Bubba. If you poke and prod far enough, you’ll discover there is a real first name buried in there somewhere. Sometimes we use false names, or an alias, to hide things. It could be a second opinion, a medical procedure, or something a girl tells a guy she’s not that into (kinda like when she also slips him a bad phone number on purpose).

I know of instances where a person’s actual name was not put on his birth certificate because the doctor didn’t know how to spell it. Instead, the doctor put down a similar name. While this might sound a little bizarre, or even humorous, on his official State issued papers, everything had the birth certificate name on it; not the name everyone knew him as his whole life. His birth certificate was never corrected and when he died, the same birth certificate name was put on his death certificate and also in the paper for his obituary.

One of his daughters actually had his name and birth/death dates tattooed on her back. Which name did she use? The birth certificate one because she didn’t know any different.

In your opinion, which name should he have gone by: the one on his birth certificate that the doctor knew how to spell or the one he was named with at birth by his parents?

Then there are the thousands of instances of where a child is born to a single mother. To my knowledge, in every State of the Union, the child becomes sole property, er.. custody, of the single mother. A lot of single mothers act like it’s their personal property, like ‘it’ is a thing or item to be possessed, but I digress. This is as automatic as sneezing with your eyes close. I’ve had numerous women tell me the mother is allowed to name the child anything they want and if the father disagrees, well that’s just too bad. They’ve said it so matter-of-fact that you’d swear it was the Gospel Truth, but it’s not literally written into the law that way. Actually, it’s not even addressed at all. So, naturally, I disagree. Not because I’m a man and a father, but because the naming rights are not and should not be exclusive to the mother. Specifically, what I’m hitting on here, is naming the child quite literally anything and excluding the father from everything, especially the name. That child is a person and they’ll have to live with that name for the rest of their life, or until they legally change it from ‘Starflake Nova Riptide’ to something more humane like ‘Sarah Lynn Rodgers’ (both names are made-up on the spot so don’t think this is a real case).

The point is, I know of an instance where a single mother screwed up the birth certificates for all three of her children. One got a different name entirely from what the family calls him (even though his birth certificate was corrected to what his family calls him, the mother insists otherwise and still calls him by what she wants), another child got a different last name from either her father or her mother, and the third got a last name of the mother but the guy who signed the birth certificate for that one isn’t the father. The mother has since left this guy and is attempting to have him removed from the birth certificate. This is actual, factual truth. I’ve known of many instances where a guy would sign the birth certificate of a child thus blessing them with his surname, even though he knew the child wasn’t his. They did it for looks and to hide the real father. Not to get political, but even our current President, Mr. Obama, has had a lot of controversy, allegations, and difficulty over his own birth certificate. Is the one he released real? Why or why not? Why do some say its altered and others swear to it as if their life depends on it?

There are other instances as well in more modern day terms. During the 2010 census, how many falsified names and other information was given? You might find this unbelievable, but this is all true. How many parents who have shared parenting both claimed the same child as living with them? Now, how many of those parents who have shared parenting claimed the same child but used different names because each of them call him something different? That is no lie. It actually happened.

Want something else incredible? Also during the 2010 census, as reported by The Christian Science Monitor, under “Race” numerous people claimed to be Vulcan, Klingon, NASCAR, and other outrageous things. These all had to be corrected, of course. Oh yeah, and if you’re an American citizen that pays taxes, well you just paid a bunch of people to go back and get those corrections. We did that to ourselves, not any government anything. Talk about wasteful spending!

When we look through the census records of decades past and we see things that don’t make sense or seem real, why should we be surprised that those same things happen today? We are descendants of those people. They hid their age at times and sometimes we do too. During WWI and WWII, how many applicants who were accepted lied about their age to get in? Too many. The youngest person was Calvin Leon Graham, who was 12 years old and served in the U. S. Navy in WWII. Others as young as 14, 15, and 16 were too common. The ones that were the most common were 17.

In some cases, to be fair, they didn’t have birth certificates, like in the case of many people from West Virginia and Ohio. Even after it was mandatory, it was difficult to enforce, especially in West Virginia. There are many boys who enlisted from that State who had to go get their old school master and put together other papers to try and confirm their age before enlisting. These were boys who were born in the 1910’s and 1920’s too.

As anyone who has studied genealogy knows, it’s all about the documentation. Because without the documentation, it’s all mythology.

Think about what kind of records we are leaving for future generations of genealogists. Are they truthful? What about the children born to unnamed fathers? Or the fathers who aren’t really daddy? Could we actually document and prove our own lives to show we are who we say we are?

They didn’t always tell the truth, but do you?

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  1. Stephanie (@CornAndCotton)

    Great commentary. It is too true, and all too common. But, what do we expect? How many times do we lie about our weight on driver’s licenses? I had a relative that lowered her age on documents regularly after the age of 49. Everything needs to be considered with a careful eye. Great post! ~ Stephanie

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