Saturday, March 28, 2020
While certainly not as devastating as the threat of the deadly coronavirus, cabin fever seems to be sweeping the country in the wake of quarantine orders. Though no communicable germs are exchanged in the process, the symptoms are nonetheless passed despite—or maybe because of—social distancing. Lack of focus, irritability, restlessness: all are experiences shared when we can't share each other's company.
And so, behind the scenes in this place where I'm "sheltered"—certainly at more than the acceptable six feet of distance—I plug away at building my family trees, at least while my mind can stand to concentrate for a while. I enter a new branch of a tree, follow each sprouting leaf to add the next generation, and move on to the next branch.
Something may have gone wonky this week while working on my mother-in-law's tree. (It always seems to happen when it's her tree.) I was following this particular daughter descended from her Gordon line when it happened. Gordon, remember, is the line whose progenitor, as far as I can tell, was the George whose land got re-appropriated as Georgetown. By now, I had made it down that Gordon line from George in Maryland and Pennsylvania to his descendants who moved to Ohio, then to Iowa and Minnesota and parts beyond.
Perhaps I was as stir crazy as the clerk who wrote down the boring details of the birth of the man who was to become groom to one of the daughters descended from this line, but it did make me stop short when I tried to enter the young man's place of birth: Sock Rabbits, South Dakota.
Suddenly, I felt like it was Saturday night, and I was playing along in Randy Seaver's "Saturday Night Genealogy Fun." The question: what's the weirdest place of birth you've encountered among your ancestors? Your mission, should you decide to accept it: reveal the true name behind that misnomer.
In this case, Googling for answers didn't help—it only brought up entries for stuffed bunnies and craft stores. Scouring maps and Wikipedia were no recourse, either. It was only after sticking to my research routine for several more iterations that I finally found another document confirming the real place of this man's birth.
Want to know where Sock Rabbits, South Dakota, really is?
Brace yourself: it wasn't in South Dakota, at all; it was in Minnesota. And not only did this clerk not know his geography, he needed a hearing aid, as well. The true place of birth was in Sauk Rapids.
The moral of this story is several-fold. First, of course, is when confronted with puzzling documentation in vital records, keep looking for confirmation or correction in a second document. Then, too, is to always use alternate ways to cross check what seem to be unusual reports. But above all—especially in these uneasy times—when confronted with family history details that just seem to make your eyes cross, push away from the computer, get up out of that chair and go outside for some sunshine and fresh air.
Or maybe, if it's Saturday night, give up that notion of being serious about your research and go play Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with your genea-friends at Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings.