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from Will in Phoenix

Dear ----,
I have spent several years looking for family information and have,
as of this week, decided that I am a descendent of the family branch called UNKNOWNS.

I find kazillions with the names of my branches but my branches
don't seem to attach to any trees in the known world. Therefore, I have concluded that there are three ways in which the
UNKNOWNS originated:

1. We were sent to the colonies by the British government in the
1700's to spy. We so excelled in the art of blending in with the
flora and fauna that no one knew we were here...even the British lost contact with us.

2. We were dropped off here by one of the space ships that some
think visited our planet. Again, we were outstanding in the ability to blend in and so were never noticed. Somewhere down the line someone forgot to tell us that we are from another planet. I think the space ships some people report seeing and being captured
by, are our true family and they are looking for us to take us home.

3. Immaculate conception...which explains itself.

4. I really don't exist. I am but a figment of someone's imagination, but I don't know who that someone is.

I am very frustrated, as you can tell. Do you have a section in this area for us UNKNOWNs to apply to families for adoption so that we can attach our tiny branch buds and belong to some tree...any tree?

Written by: Mary Ann Bartlett

from Shirley


A few months ago, when I was picking up the children at school, another mother I knew well rushed up to me. Emily was fuming with indignation.

"Do you know what you and I are?" she demanded.

Before I could answer - and I didn't really have one handy - she blurted out the reason for her question. It seemed she had just returned from renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk's office. Asked by the woman recorder to state her "occupation," Emily had hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.

"What I mean is," explained the recorder, "Do you have a job, or are you just a...?"

"Of course I have a job," snapped Emily. "I'm a mother."

"We don't list 'mother' as an occupation...'housewife' covers it," said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall. The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high-sounding title, like "Official Interrogator" or "Town Registrar."

"And what is your occupation?" she probed.

What made me say it, I do not know. The words simply popped out. "I'm....a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations."

The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair, and looked up as though she had not heard right. I repeated the title slowly, emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pompous pronouncement was written in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.

"Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field?"

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I have a continuing program of research (what mother doesn't) in the laboratory and in the field (normally I would have said indoors and out). I'm working for my Masters (the whole darned family) and already have four credits (all daughters).

"Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities (any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day (24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are in satisfaction rather than just money."

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants---age 13, 7, and 3. And upstairs, I could hear our new experimental model (six months) in the child-development program, testing out a new vocal pattern.

I felt triumphant. I had scored a beat on bureaucracy. And I had gone down on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another..."

Home...what a glorious career. Especially when there's a title on the door.

from Pat L.

"Reverse The Trends"

"We often strive for an answer to many things we do not understand,
We look around us and wonder why things seem out of hand.

Prejudice, hate, and ignorance seem to fill our world with pain,
So our attention and focus is on the bad in our world is all I can explain.

Distrust, hurt, and anger have become a way of life,
What a ludicrous thought it is that we gain pleasure from others strife.

The Golden Rule has been thrown out and altruism cast aside,
But I believe its all a cover up for the love and hope inside.

These things that we treasure most, we've all learned how to hide,
Because once we were hurt when we took a risk
So now we protect our pride.

It's time we change the way our world is today,
To make our future a place where each of us can say...

"I love the world I live in, and I know tomorrow can be,
A place where people of all walks of life can be themselves,
They can feel free."

Lets spend our time and energy to build a bright tomorrow,
Foster kindness, compassion, caring and rid our world of sorrow.

The message here is simple,
Don't wait for someone else to change what you can start today,
You can make our world a better place,
in a very special way.

Break down the walls that separate, and I think you'll find
It's such a nicer place to be,
When people around us are kind."

from Shirley

The author of The Dash is Linda Ellis.
She has a web site at

The Dash 1998
by Linda Ellis

I read of a reverend who stood to speak
at the funeral of his friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth…
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard…
are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left.
(You could be at "dash mid-range.")

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real,
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
and more often wear a smile…
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy’s being read
with your life’s actions to rehash...
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent your dash?


The math teacher saw that little Johnny wasn't paying attention in class. She called on him and said, "Johnny! What are 4, 2, 28 and 44?" Little Johnny quickly replied, "NBC, CBS, HBO, and the Cartoon Network!"

In the supermarket was a man pushing a cart which contained a screaming, bellowing baby. The gentleman kept repeating softly, "Don't get excited, Albert; don't scream, Albert; don't yell, Albert; keep calm, Albert." A woman standing next to him said, "You certainly are to be commended for trying to soothe your son Albert." The man looked at her and said, "No, I'm Albert."

A four-year-old was at the pediatrician for a check up. As the doctor looked down her ears, he asked, "Do you think I'll find Big Bird in here?" The little girl stayed silent.
Next the doctor took a tongue depressor and looked down her throat. He asked, "Do you think I'll find the Cookie Monster down there?" Again, the little girl was silent.
Then the doctor put a stethoscope to her chest. As he listened to her heartbeat, he asked, "Do you think I'll hear Barney in there?" "Oh, no!" the little girl replied. "Jesus is in my heart. Barney's on my underpants."

When I stopped the bus to pick up Chris for preschool, I noticed an older woman hugging him as he left the house. "Is that your grandmother?" I asked. "Yes," Chris said. "She's come to visit us for Christmas." "How nice," I said. "Where does she live?" "At the airport," Chris replied. "Whenever we want her, we just go out there and get her."

I didn't know if my granddaughter had learned her colors yet, so I decided to test her. I would point out something and ask what color it was. She would tell me and always she was correct. But it was fun for me, so I continued. At last, she headed for the door, saying sagely, "Grandma, I think you should try to figure out some of these yourself!"

One Sunday morning the pastor noticed little Johnny was standing staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. The young man of seven had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up and stood beside him and gazing up at the plaque he said quietly, "Good morning son." "Good morning pastor," replied the young man not taking his eyes off the plaque. "Sir, what is this?" Johnny asked. "Well, son, these are all the people who have died in the service", replied the pastor. Soberly, they stood together staring up at the large plaque. Little Johnny's voice barely broke the silence when he asked quietly, "Which one sir, the 8:30 or the 10:30?

A three-year-old boy went with his dad to see a new litter of kittens. On returning home, he breathlessly informed his mother, "There were two boy kittens and two girl kittens." "How did you know that?" his mother asked. "Daddy picked them up and looked underneath," he replied. "I think it's printed on the bottom.


A daddy was listening to his child say his prayer "Dear Howard." At this, dad interrupted, and said, "Wait a minute, "How come you called God, "Howard"? The little boy looked up and said, "That's what they call Him in church. You know the prayer we say, "Our Father, who art in Heaven, Howard be Thy name."

And this particular four-year-old prayed: "And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets."

During the minister's prayer one Sunday, there was a loud whistle from one of the back pews. Jeffrey's mother was horrified. She pinched him into silence, and after church, asked: "Jeffrey, whatever made you do such a thing?" Jeffrey answered soberly: "I asked God to teach me to whistle... and He just then did!"

One night Garrett's parents overheard this prayer. "Now I lay me down to rest, I hope to pass tomorrow's test, if I should die before I wake, that's one less test I'll have to take."

A five-year-old said grace at family dinner one night. "Dear God, thank you for these pancakes." When he concluded, his parents asked him why he thanked God for pancakes when they were having chicken. He smiled and said, "I thought I'd see if He was paying attention tonight."

A little boy's prayer. "Dear God, please take care of my daddy and my mommy and my sister and my brother and my doggy and me. Oh, please take care of yourself, God. If anything happens to you, we're gonna be in a big mess."

A rabbi said to a precocious six-year-old boy: "So your mother says your prayers for you each night? Very commendable. What does she say?" The little boy replied, "Thank God he's in bed!"

A woman invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to her six-year-old daughter and said, "Would you like to say the blessing?" I wouldn't know what to say," the little girl replied. "Just say what you hear Mommy say, " the mother said. The little girl bowed her head and said, "Dear Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?"

Travis had been misbehaving and was sent to his room. After a while he emerged and informed his mother that he had thought it over and then said a prayer. "Fine," said the pleased mother. "If you ask God to help you not misbehave, He will help you." "Oh, I didn't ask Him to help me not misbehave," said Travis. "I asked Him to help you put up with me."

A little boy was overheard praying: "Lord, if You can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it. I'm having a real good time like I am!"


1. The bed should be aligned in the same direction as the floorboards, to prevent ill luck.

2. It is unlucky to get out of the bed in the morning on a different side then, which you crawled into bed the night before.

3. Don't place your bed so that it points North to South, avoid putting it in a position that will bring evil to bear upon you.

4. Do not turn your mattress on Sunday or Friday.

5. Do not get out of bed in the morning on the same side as you got into bed the night before, a person who go out of bed on the wrong side, will be ill-tempered all day.

6. Never place an umbrella on a bed, this is very unlucky

7. If three people help make a bed, one will become sick within a year.

8. Bed-wetting can be cured by eating half of a roasted, minced, mouse.

9. A bed changed on Friday will bring bad dreams.


If cream in coffee collects at the top edges of a cup.
If dogs suddenly begin to eat grass.
If cats sneeze or lick their fur backwards.
If field mice run wildly in the open areas.
If a pig straightens the "curl" in his tail.
If cattle refuse to drink water in dry weather.

If sheep turn their backs to the wind. (Heavy rain)
If hens spread and ruffle their tail feathers.
If a rooster crows at night. (Rain before morning)
If chickens go to roost earlier than usual.
If robins sing loud near the house.

If ducks or geese become noisy (without reason).
If the rain crow calls loudly in the woods.
If snakes become very active in dry weather.
If flies or mosquitoes suddenly swarm into the house.
If bees cluster near their hives.

If owls hoot in the daytime (or loudly at night).
If dogs or cats carry their young to higher ground. (Flood)
If horses begin scratching themselves against trees, or their tails appear extra bushy.
If birds or ducks nest on high ground, expect wet Summer.
(Expect a dry season if nest is close to edge of stream)
If fish swim to the surface of streams. (Storms)
If smoke and soot fall down instead of rising fast.
If terrapins seek high, dry ground.
If spiders crawl aimlessly about, glow worms shine brigher, or crickets sing louder . . expect lots of rain.


If crows fly unusually high, expect a wind storm.
If cats work busily scratching themselves . . . windstorm.
If quail sum themselves in coveys, expect 3 days of good weather.
If deer lose their spots by mid-July, expect an early Fall.
If butterflies appear late in Autumn, colder weather soon.

GROUND HOG'S DAY . . . February 2nd is now considered the official day.
(Before 1900, February 14th was the accepted day.) If the sun shines and Mr. Groundhog emerges to see his shadow on this day, he returns to sleep because there will be 6 more weeks of cold weather. (Seeing no shadow foretells good weather ahead).

"FOGS IN AUGUST" - Old timers say that the number of fogs in August indicate the exact number of snows for the following winter. (Small fogs - small snows, etc.)


If sonowflakes are large, storm will end soon.
If small flakes, expect a heavy snowfall.

If snow continues to lay on gorund and melt slowly, it may be "waiting for another snowfall."

The number of sunny days between July 1st and September 1st, multiplied by two, indicate the number of freezing cold Winter days due.

The number of days the first snow remains on the ground. (3, 4, etc.) foretell the number of deep snows due for the winter.

The number of days the moon is old (beginning from the date of NEW MOON) when the first snow falls, indicates number of snows to expect for winter.


If rain falls while the sun is shining, expect short shower.
If raindrops are large, expect brief shower.
If 7 consecutive hot days and nights pass - long dry spell coming.
A dark, YELLOW sky indicates storm and hail.


When the first green appears . . .
When the buzzards return . . .
When robins sing . . .


Many people were believed to possess a supernatural "gift" for curing certain ailments, by using charms, prayers and magic of various sorts. (Mothers kiss a child's hurt to "make it well.")

TAKING FIRES OUT OF BURNS - One says she blows on the burn and mutters "Go out fire, come in frost." (Various other ways.)

STOPPING BLOOD - One "who has the power" says he calls the person by name, walks toward the sunrise and repeats the Sixth Verse, Sixteenth Chapter of Ezekiel (or reads it from the Bible.)

REMOVING WARTS - (Many different ways.) The conjurer rubs the wart with a penny and gives it to the boy. As soon as the penny is spent, the wart goes away.

CURING A BABY'S "THRASH" - A person who never saw his father (due to death or otherwise) may blow into the baby's mouth three times and cure the condition.

TO KEEP WITCHES AND "SPELLS" OUT OF THE HOUSE: A horsehoe was hung (prongs up) over the door for best pretection. OR, three nails, placed in a triangle, were driven outside the door.


Calendars and Almanacs were important to farmers and housewives who knew the signs of the Zodiac and planned their work "when the signs were right." Many explanations for this practice (for and against) have been offered, but few scientific proofs exist. Long-time believers simply say, "The signs work."


What is "DARK of the moon?" . . . This refers to waning, or that period of darkening nights between the FULL moon and the NEW.

What is "LIGHT of the moon?" . . . the waxing, or period of days between the NEW and the FULL moon. (As the size increases.)

Potatoes Onions Beets Turnips Readishes, etc.

LUCKY TO PLANT IN THE "LIGHT OF THE MOON" (Crops above ground) Beans Peas Tomatoes Corn, etc.


(In early times, people named signs for areas of the human body rather than Astrological Constellations, but their meaning was the same.) (See Almanac.)
Thus, Pisces was refeerd to as "Signs in the Feet".

Aquarius ......................................"In the Legs"
Capricorn ....................................."In the Knees"
Sagittarius ..................................."In the Thighs"
Scorpio ......................................."In the Sex Organs"
Libra ........................................."In the Kidneys"
Virgo ........................................."In the Bowels"
Leo ..........................................."In the Heart"
Cancer ........................................"In the Breast"
Genini ........................................."In the Arms"
Taurus ......................................."In the Neck" ("The Bull")
Aries ........................................."In the Head"

"Never pull teeth when the sign is 'in the Head.'" (Might hemorrhage.)

Operations more successful if sign is "In the Feet or Legs."

FULL MOON causes "moon madness" in people; Cuts bleed more freely.

from Pat L.


"You shall not worry, for worry is the most
unproductive of all human activities.

You shall not be fearful, for most of the things we fear
never come to pass.

You shall not cross bridges before you come to them,
for no one has yet succeeded in accomplishing this.

You shall face each problem as it comes
because no one has ever been successful in handling
more than one problem at a time.

You shall not take problems to bed with you
for they make very poor bed partners.

You shall not borrow other people's problems
because, believe it or not, those other people are,
if they choose to be,
capable of taking care of their own problems
without your help.

You shall not try to relive yesterday, it is gone.
concentrate on what's happening in your life today.

You shall remember to count your blessings, never forgetting the small ones,
for a lot of small blessings usually add up to where you are
in this journey called life.

You shall try to be a good listener, for only when you listen
do you hear ideas different from your own.
It IS very hard to learn something new when you're talking.

You shall not become bogged down with frustration, for 90% of frustration
is rooted in self pity and self pity will only interfere with
the positive action you know you are capable of making."

I've learned that you should never tell a child her dreams are unlikely or outlandish. Few things are more humiliating, and what a tragedy it would be if she believed it

I've learned that your family won't always be there for you. It may seem funny, but people you aren't related to can take care of you and love you and teach you to trust people again. Families aren't biological.

I've learned that no matter how good a friend someone is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.

I've learned that it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.

I've learned that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn't stop for your grief.

I've learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

I've learned that sometimes when my friends fight, I'm forced to choose sides even when I don't want to.

I've learned that just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other. And just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do.

I've learned that sometimes you have to put the individual ahead of their actions.

I've learned that we don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.

I've learned that if you don't want to forget something, stick it in your underwear drawer.

I've learned that you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever.

I've learned that the clothes I like best are the ones with the most holes in them.

I've learned that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.

I've learned that no matter how you try to protect your children, they will eventually get hurt and you will hurt in the process.

I've learned that there are many ways of falling and staying in love.

I've learned that no matter the consequences, those who are honest with themselves, get farther in life.

I've learned that many things can be powered by the mind, the trick is self-control.

I've learned that no matter how many friends you have, if you are their pillar, you will feel lonely and lost at the times you need them most.

I've learned that your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you.

I've learned that even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.

I've learned that writing, as well as talking, can ease emotional pains.

I've learned that the paradigm we live in is not all that is offered to us.

I've learned that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.

I've learned that the people you care most about in life are taken from you too soon.

I've learned that although the word "love" can have many different meaning, it loses value when overly used.

I've learned that it's hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice and not hurting people's feelings and standing up for what you believe.