Check That Tree!

Check That Tree!


Gene and Edna Ward invited my brother George and his wife, Monteigne, and Lynn and me to meet with them on a recent Sunday afternoon. They wanted to show us something.

Edna is very accomplished at tracing the genealogy of people. She has spent months tracing the genealogy of our family for the last five generations.

The book is 213 pages long. She had newspaper clippings and photographs of family events since the discovery of a camera and the use of newspapers. George and I were amazed. The more we learned about our family tree, the more blessed we felt!

I did ask her if there were any “bad apples” on our family tree. She graciously said that she did not find any. (I hope she was telling the whole truth.) I asked her how she would handle the situation of a family member with a bad reputation.

She shared that those who research family histories are often asked, “What if there is a horse thief in the family?”They reply, “Adjust the image.” She jokingly shared the following:

Creative Genealogy—This example circulates on the Internet and names an important person in today’s political scene. For today’s purpose—I have altered the content to show creative genealogy is possible.

A lady doing family research discovered her great-great grandpa was a fellow lacking in character. He was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889.

The only known photograph of him shows him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture is this inscription: “(His name,) Horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times, caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted, and hanged in 1889.”

She hired professional image adjusters, cropped grandpa’s picture, scanned it, enlarged the image, and edited it with image processing software so all that’s seen is a headshot.

In her family history, the accompanying biographical sketch is as follows:

My great-great grandfather was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to service at a government facility, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, he passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.” 

George and I are more proud to bear the Mathison name than ever before. We are the recipients of five generations who decided to “choose a good name over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:21)

We also are more committed to making the Mathison name a blessing for future generations. We have a huge responsibility. Jesus said, “A tree is known by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33) He also said, “A good tree bears good fruit.” (Matthew 7:17)

How is your tree looking?

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