morse family tree.

These Morse Family Tree entries will almost definitely continue being rewritten for awhile, in the interest of clarity and my eventual satisfaction.


We're going to try an experiment here. Yes, another experiment. Probably along the lines of Dutch Word of The Day, The Great Pizza Hunt, Cook The Cookbook, and other short-lived VDuck failures.

Maybe this one's different, a little at least. I've got this binder, a physical binder, like for schoolwork or other research, that is in effect the most complete existing genealogy of, well...me. One of the women who was responsible for raising me pre-1975 or so (the one who is not my mother) put this together in the 1980s, as a gift to me.

Of course, for a teenager, there is really no more appropriate or relevant gift that you could give, right? Not really. In fact, I would assert that there is no time in your life when you might be less interested in a family history than in your teenage years. Or at least my teenage years. Feelings of indestructibility, a certainty that you'll "never be old", possible rebellion against the very family in question, seeing them as the bank, the warden, the obstacle, the whatever. But probably not seeing them as a subject for engagement, interesting research, and/or documentation.


Oh, well, you know........time passed, as it does, and when I came across the genealogy binder at my parents' place this past Halloween, I brought it home with me. I started poking around in it, but as you may know, I'm an insomniac, one of the causes of which is an unhealthy fixation on mortality. A family tree is pretty much a flow chart of People Who Died. So, I needed some kind of reason for messing around with this stuff other than morbid curiosity.

And ultimately my reasoning here is not unmorbid at all, but at least I find it somewhat motivational and somehow calming: I've been thinking about death and legacy even more than usual lately, as a result of writing another piece with The Good Collaborators (it's supposed to be therapeutic, this writing process). And I started thinking about what happens to intangible or esoteric family heirlooms of the childless, not a new subject, pretty timeless actually, but one whose parameters have changed dramatically in the last 10 years.

It would now seem that the Internet is going to be around for "awhile". It's especially reassuring that, post dot-com boom and bust, several major participants seem to have stabilized (Google, Yahoo). And we can see that some companies' "free" products and the information invested therein could possibly be around for "a long time".

So my point is that it's possible to imagine one's data surviving without one, if one were inclined to imagine such things. And this data I have, this genealogy, I believe mine to be the only copy, or, if it's not the only copy, it's one of maybe three, tops. And I don't see the other binder-holders doing this: putting as much of it in digital form as possible. Not all at once, just when I have time, inclination, etc.

Why here and not in some genealogy database? I think I feel like writing about it. If anyone else wants to do something more structured with the information, be my guest. As long as the structured thing you want to do doesn't involve identity theft or similar.


Pictured at the top of this post is Jo3n Morse, my grandfather's great-grandfather. It's unclear when this picture was taken, my completely haphazard guess would be something like 1850. We know that John Morse had a son in 1849 in Attica, NY, but we don't know much else about John other than that he married a woman named Orilla Gibbs. What a great name! Orilla.

And John is as far back as the Morse name has been traced in relation to me. There isn't a ton of information about him, so what we'll probably do next is move a generation closer to John's son mentioned above, George W. Morse.


The who-married-who-and-had-what-kids stuff is pretty dry, so I'll try to keep it out of the (hypothetical) posts and into some kind of footnotey kind of thing. The more interesting information is contained in a 20-page letter from my great aunt (my grandfather's sister Dorothy), just kind of rambling about anything she can remember about the old days of the family.

I'm already learning much. Today, for example, I discovered that the Italian roots of my family (my mom's mom's side) go back to Naples. Specifically, a woman named Florence Antoinette Leno (b. 1857), my grandmother's great-grandmother (and thus the female equivalent of John Morse?). In the notes for her entry, it says, "She played the guitar...loved to play and sing. Also-liked wine!" Shocker.


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