So, remember Rough on Rats? OF COURSE YOU DO. If you don’t, here. Read the saga. There you go, don’t you feel totally enlightened on all things arsenic-poisoning-related? (Crap, now that I’m talking about this again, the FBI is adding more and MORE pages to my file, aren’t they? Dammit. Well, I guess someone’s got to keep the FBI in business and today it’s me.)
So if you remember, my mother dropped the bomb that I had a relative who was poisoned by arsenic and that I’d never been told about when I told her about my very intensive research into Rough on Rats.
This is not surprising. I have long suspected my family is in some sort of witness-protection program. BOTH SIDES of my family. Because not only do they not talk about our history or our ancestors, they have NO INTEREST in it. NONE. Who doesn’t have any interest in where they came from or even what nationality they are? I remember coming home once when I was a kid and asking my mom what nationality we were and her saying, “American,” and me saying, “Yes, I KNOW American, but BEFORE that, we aren’t Native American, so we must have come from SOMEWHERE” and her saying, “I don’t know, maybe Canada?” WHAT THE HELL. Who doesn’t know, and doesn’t care, what nationality you are at all?
This is why I am totally obsessed with that show Who Do You Think You Are. I want to be famous enough to be on Who Do You Think You Are. This is one of my dreams. I don’t want to be famous enough to have all the money or a hot actor husband or twenty adopted children from Zimbabwe or a gold-plated bidet; I want to be famous enough to be on a low-rated NBC show where someone does research into your family and finds out you were related to royalty, or you came over on the Mayflower, or your ancestors were dentists, or something. THIS IS MY DREAM. Shut up, I don’t judge YOUR dreams.
I attempted to do some genealogical research years ago but I didn’t get very far because I am poor and I think to really get very far you need to have money for spreadsheets and websites and research and travel and also you need a lot of free time, and I don’t have any of those things.
I have found out, however, the following things, from random conversations with and observations of family members:
Both sides of my family were originally from Canada (this is not surprising, considering we all have French last names)
We have some ancestry from Ireland, going way back (I can TOTALLY officially celebrate St. Patrick’s Day now, I mean, I WON’T, I think it’s just an excuse to get totally drunk on cheap green beer, but I COULD)
Even though my dad attempts to hide it, his mother’s side of the family were all staunch Democrats, going way back, and all his years of telling me he had no idea where I came from or what’s wrong with me was a total ruse, it’s HEREDITARY, Dad (and also? His cousin J. MET BILL CLINTON and has a PHOTO OF HIM SHAKING HIS HAND and this is SO EXCITING TO ME but when I bring that up to my father he just shakes his head and mutters grumblingly under his breath, something about “damn liberals”)
Both of my grandfathers were in the military; one actually fought in World War II and I’ve seen photos of him in Japan, and the other was something top-secret and I didn’t even know about it until I went home recently and saw a military thingamabobber on his grave and asked about it and my mom said “we don’t talk about that” and THAT IS MYSTERIOUS so probably he was a spy
And that’s about it. I KNOW. That’s like nothing! So I think it will be no surprise to anyone that, from an early age, I started randomly making up stories about my ancestors. Because if no one was going to tell me anything, dammit, I was going to make shit up. This has carried over into today. I was having this conversation with @lgalaviz this weekend. There is nothing more boring than telling a story the way it actually happened, in my opinion. Embellishing the story for effect makes it so much better and makes people want to listen to your story more, right? I mean, think of the best storytellers you know. Do they say, “I went to the store today and bought eggs and milk” or do they say “I went to the store today and some douchecanoe cut me off in the parking lot while they were talking on their cell phone, and then when I was in the store I’m pretty sure the guy at the deli counter was hitting on me, or maybe he had something in his eye, IT IS HARD TO TELL WITH THESE THINGS, then I bought some eggs and milk and the checkout guy was all, ‘You didn’t buy chocolate this time’ which makes me think that probably I’m buying chocolate way too often if they remember me for my totally over-the-top chocolate-buying-binges, then when I was in the parking lot I thought about egging the car of the cutter-offer person, since I totally had the eggs in my bag and all, but I restrained, because I wanted to make an omelet when I got home and didn’t want to waste all those good eggs.” WHICH STORY IS BETTER. The second one, right? Right. I mean, unless you’re on your way to something and time’s an issue, in which case, you might want the first one just because you’re in a hurry. ANYWAY. So I learned from a very young age to make up stories, because I didn’t have any info so why the hell NOT make up stories, and also that made them a lot more interesting.
Oh, on a related note, so not really SIDE NOTE, here is an example.
So my parents met and got married and shit, whatever, as people do. Over the years, bits and pieces of that story came out because, like I mentioned, it’s like state secrets around the Amy household. And I kind of stitched them together into a story of my own about how they got together. This was my story of how my parents met and got married.
My mom was dating to a guy and the guy was drafted and went off to Vietnam. He said, “will you wait for me?” and she said, “Yes, I will.” While he was over there, my dad came back from the military. My mom was in a bar and my dad was there and got in a big bar fight and she fixed his bleeding face and he was totally charming and she was pretty and so they fell in love. When the military guy came back, he heard my mom and dad were engaged so he came after my dad and found him in a bar and was all, “you stole my lady!” and he and my dad got in a huge fight and my dad totally won. And now that guy is weird and short and chubby and a doctor.
When I told my mother this story one day, she laughed until she cried. When she finally stopped laughing enough for me to ask WHY she was laughing, she said, “Um…you know none of that happened, right?” and I said, “What? No, I’m pretty sure it did,” and she said, “Well, I was there, and you weren’t, SINCE YOU WEREN’T BORN,” and she said what really happened was she was dating short doctor guy, and he was drafted, but they weren’t even serious, and she did meet my dad at a bar, but there was never any brawling at all, and when short doctor came back, he did accidentally see my mom and dad out one night and jokingly say to my dad “you stole my lady” or something similar but he wasn’t even serious because he and my mom weren’t even an item. Oh, and yes, he is short and chubby and a doctor now. And, TRUE FACT!, my dad scowls whenever he sees him because he used to date my mom. That makes me laugh, my parents have been married for like forty years. (Also, before I found out about the bar, my mom used to tell us they met at a church picnic. When the bar story came out, I said, “What? What about the picnic?” and she said, “I didn’t want you to think when you were little that your father and I were lushes.” Hee!)
THAT STORY SUCKS A BAG OF DICKS.
MY STORY IS SO MUCH BETTER. My story has INTRIGUE and FIGHTING and BLEEDING and ROMANCE and POSSIBLE ALCOHOLISM. The real story has BORING PEOPLE meeting at BORING BARS and BORINGLY DATING.
(Oh, also, and unrelated, once my mom dated someone named “Bouncy McGee.” His real first name wasn’t “Bouncy” – and his last name wasn’t McGee but I don’t want to put his real name here, that’s so mean – but apparently he bounced when he walked and it made his hair pop up and down so that was his nickname. MOM. What kind of people were you dating before you met Dad? Short dudes and people with walking issues? That is sad.)
And before you say, “But that’s LYING!” it’s not, not really. It’s EMBELLISHING. For EFFECT. No one is HURT in the telling of a better story. I’d argue that people are HELPED, actually. Helped because they are entertained! They leave nourished! They leave with the satisfied, full-belly feeling of a good, fun story, told well, with many details to make it seem more real!
ANYWAY. This isn’t what I’m here to talk about today at all.
So my mom promised to investigate the ancestor who was murdered by Rough on Rats for me the next time she talked to my grandmother. I’m not going home again probably until the summer, so I wouldn’t be able to talk to her about it. I mean, I guess I could call her. But I hate the phone. I’m totally the worst on the phone. And my grandmother is yelly on the phone and doesn’t often hear you when you are asking her things.
So she went to visit my grandmother and told me she couldn’t send me a PDF of the newspaper article about the relative who was a Rough on Rats murderer because it was super-glued into an album my grandmother had so it wasn’t removable for scanning and PDFing. Dammit. I said, “Mom, did you read it?” and she said she SKIMMED IT. Why doesn’t anyone in my family care that we totally have a murderess in our family? I asked, “did it mention Rough on Rats?” and she actually said, “I don’t REMEMBER.” GET WITH THE PROGRAM MOM.
She did remember the name of the murderess, however, and with the help of @cmtomaso, who is the hero of the hour, I was pointed in the direction of this website. All the newspapers of upstate New York! PDFed! Going back to the 1800s! SO EXCITING! Well, except the Malone Evening Telegram, which is the suckiest newspaper in the history of print journalism. They don’t even have a website. WHAT NEWSPAPER IN 2012 DOESN’T HAVE A WEBSITE. Seriously, Malone Evening Telegram, you call me and hire me and I will get you into the 21st century for only about $40,000 a year salary and full benefits. CALL ME.
If you can’t read this, I think you can click to enlarge? I don’t know how the world works, maybe not.
Unfortunately, as you can see, the newspapers in the 40s in upstate New York weren’t into tabloid-style journalism, because if I’d been a reporter back then, I’d totally have written something more than these two very factual pieces. There would have been a lot more “THE BLACK WIDOW” and shit, if I’d written them, I can tell you right now.
Things that bear note:
I like how it says that most crimes in Franklin County are “run-of-the-mill.” Probably not to the people that are being criminalized, Fort Covington Sun.
My mother told me she thought my murderess great-great-aunt killed both my great-granduncle and then her next husband, but this article seems to imply that she killed my great-granduncle, her own son, and then attempted to poison her employer, which is when she got caught. I couldn’t find any followup articles on whether or not my great-granduncle and third cousin (is that right? he’d have been my grandmother’s first cousin, so my mom’s second cousin, and my third cousin? or am I totally off?) were found with arsenic in their systems or not. The Fort Covington Sun really wasn’t the best with reporting, I think.
So her story is that she was driven to it because her employer mistreated her. I need more info, Fort Covington Sun. What work did she do for him, exactly? Housework? Farm work? Something more…naughty? Worrisome.
SEVEN CHILDREN. Good gravy.
She was 11 years younger than my great-granduncle and then ten years older than her second husband. I’m thinking pickins were slim back then in my hometown. Oh, wait, they still are now. Nothing’s changed in that department.
SEVEN CHILDREN. Gulp. She had her first one when she was 19. So she married my great-granduncle when she was, say, 18? And he was 29. That seems like probably it was ill-advised.
The judge’s name was “Cornelius J. Carey.” Hee! That is a VERY OFFICIOUS NAME.
My two little third cousins were county charges! I wonder whatever happened to them!
Then she was sent to the mental institution for being a looney poisoner. Sigh. “Female mental defectives.” Maybe she was just tired. SEVEN CHILDREN SERIOUSLY.
Also, Rough on Rats was never mentioned. SIGH.
So since there is a LOT of info missing, I am OBVIOUSLY forced to make up a story about her, in which she is a beleaguered, exhausted wife, with an old husband (sorry, Great Grand-Uncle John) and SEVEN DAMN CHILDREN and something pushed her over the edge (I’m thinking something to do with the SEVEN CHILDREN) and then she did some murderin’. I don’t really have an excuse for her murdering her fifteen-year-old son, though. That one’s pretty heinous, I have to admit. Then we have the attempted murder of her employer, who seemed to be imprisoning her in his house (what the hell?) so probably that was justified. I feel like maybe this might be a the-night-the-lights-went-out-in-Georgia situation or something. THERE IS MORE TO THIS STORY.
I’ll get more information about this when I go home and talk to my grandmother. My grandmother’s stories are salty and full of cusses and my mom says she still calls my murderous great-great-aunt “that bitch” so I’m totally looking forward to this.
Also, producers of Who Do You Think You Are, I know I’m not a famous person, but LOOK AT WHO’S IN MY FAMILY TREE. Would I NOT make the best hour of television ever? CALL ME RIGHT NOW. I would be SO EFFING ENTERTAINING. I mean, no one’s watching that show but me, anyway, what have you got to lose? NOTHING. It is my DREAM. Sigh.