Some Won’t Like What They Hear

Some relatives (close or distant) might not like what you tell them about their relative or ancestor. The husband of one of my aunts killed himself in the 19th century, most likely because he suffered from a debilitating disease for which there was no real treatment. A relative of this man was very communicative with me until I mentioned how the relative died and the fact that my aunt divorced him.

That was the last time I heard from the correspondent.

Some people do not want to hear anything unfavorable. Remember it is our duty to report accurately what we find, not to judge or lay blame. We don’t have to necessarily tell every negative story  we discover, but somethings are hard to leave out without really altering the person’s life story. The reason why someone spends thirty years in jail and stories that are published in newspaper after newspaper are sometimes hard to “sweep under the rug.” If a death certificate mentions a relative committed suicide by disemboweling herself because she was suffering from stomach cancer, I might leave that detail out of my notes and mention that cancer was a contributing cause of her death. I will include an image of her actual death certificate with my records, but will let others discover that if they care to dig that far.

If we are factual, not mean or spiteful, and others are unhappy with our discoveries, that may just be the way it has to be. Our job is to report our ancestor’s stories and judge documents for accuracy in order to determine the story as best we can. I’ll leave judgments regarding my ancestors’ behavior to someone else.