Noted genealogist brings humor to family research

Oct. 6, 2009 at 5:06 a.m.

Last month, George Schweitzer, Ph.D., distinguished professor, scientist, genealogist, and author of 220 genealogy publications including 19 genealogy guide books, spoke to family history enthusiasts about Genealogy in the Southeastern United States, Revolutionary War Genealogy and Migration Routes and Settlement Patterns.

Schweitzer dresses in historical re-enactment costumes and assumes dialects of early American soldiers and pioneers. He is quite humorous and I like to think of him as the Victor Borge of genealogy. His presentations, if presented by other authorities and learned men, could be rather dull, but Schweitzer keeps his audience laughing with his humorous yet true-to-life descriptions of our ancestors.

One of my favorite stories is his description of early settlers in Virginia who began moving southward into the Carolinas, Kentucky and Tennessee. He described the Scots-Irish as constructing plastered wall shelters with thatched roofs, planting a garden only large enough to supply the family, and "not being happy unless they are involved in some activity that leads to eminent death."

Next came the Germans, "building breweries and churches, in that order," planting huge fields, constructing sturdy stone barns and houses with thick walls that were very clean and serviceable but not attractive.

He added, "The basic American is one-third Scots-Irish, one-third German, and one-third English. That's why we are all messed up."

Schweitzer described the South-Eastern curse as too many people with the same name. "Blame it on the Baptists and the Methodists."

Yes, I know this curse because I am back to 1812 in Tennessee with three men named Jeremiah Jones and do not have a clue as to which one is my husband's ancestor. The South-Eastern blessing is, "May you live long enough to find yourself in the census."

Closing on a serious note, Schweitzer related that John Locke was not given credit for designing the Constitution of the United States. Before this time, leaders, kings and queens were chosen by divine right, assuming that God had selected them. "We must vote and pray that we will not lose our basic freedom. We are in constant danger of restoring divine right."

Thanks to the Victoria Public Library, the Friends of the Library and especially Jo Anne Oliphant for bringing George Schweitzer to Victoria for our enjoyment.

Mark Your Calendars

Oct. 9, 2010 the Victoria County Genealogical Society will host nationally known genealogy writer, researcher, and lecturer George Morgan.

Beginning Genealogy Class

Monday is registration day for the Victoria College Continuing Education Beginning Genealogy 101 class will meet from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesdays from Jan. 6 to Saturday, Feb. 6. To register, call 361-582-2432. Tuition cost for the class is $95 and must be made at the time of registration. Instructions for payment will be given when participants register for the class.

All classes with the exception of the Saturday final session will meet in room 203, Continuing Education Center, Ben Jordan Street near the Victoria College Entrance No. 1.

Happy Researching.

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