Lets say that your great-great-great uncle Remus Starr, a fellow lacking in character, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889.
A cousin has supplied you with the only known photograph of Remus, showing him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture are the words: “Remus Starr: horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison, 1885. Escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton Detectives, convicted and hanged, 1889”.
Pretty grim situation, right? But let’s revise things a bit. We simply crop the picture, scan in an enlargement and edit it with image processing software so that all that is seen is a head shot.
Next, we rewrite the text:
Remus Starr 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 1885, 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, Uncle Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.
Now we give Uncle Remus a distinguished place inside the family tree, not hanging from it.
Ed: Dedicated to all those doing their family histories. http://members.home.nl/sjouwke/genealogie/jokes.htm#A Blacksheep, whitened