Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Last November I sent a Qualifying Request email to the International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists. I was accepted.

The society is for those genealogists who have discovered 'black sheep' in their family tree. There are a handful of 'deeds' that are automatic qualifiers:

Armed Robbery
Theft of any item of fame
Membership in a famous gang, well documented
Political Assassin
Member of the FBI's Most Wanted List
Political Expatriate
Extreme Public Embarrassment
Involvement in Witchcraft Trials
Bigamy (outside the Mormon faith, which condoned it at one time)
Persons expelled from normal society
Convicted felons (documented)

In my submission I argued I qualified under two categories: Bigamy and Political Expatriate. Since then I have cleared the bigamist, who was a sibling of a great-grandmother, as it seems much more likely now he really did go through with a divorce, even though documentation hasn't been uncovered. There's still a possibility, but the evidence leans away from bigamy.

This leaves Political Expatriate. Even though they fall under an 'automatic qualifier' for this society, I don't really consider my Loyalist ancestors as Black Sheep. They chose the non-winning side in a war, so after the war, they had to flee. The winners write the history. My ancestors were the ones that were loyal -- which is admirable -- others committed treason. But treason isn't a crime if you're successful. I am happy the Revolutionaries won, but I am not ashamed of the stand my ancestors took.

So while I have been given permission to put the "IBSSG" acronym in my signature, I am refraining from doing so, until I discover someone in my tree who qualifies for a less defensible deed. I suspect I might.

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