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  • The public ceremony in which your distinguished ancestor participated and at which the platform collapsed under him turned out to be a hanging.

  • When at last after much hard work you have solved the mystery you have been working on for two years, your aunt says, "I could have told you that"

  • You grandmother's maiden name that you have searched for for four years was on a letter in a box in the attic all the time.

  • You never asked your father about his family when he was alive because you weren't interested in genealogy then.

  • The will you need is in the safe on board the Titanic.

  • Copies of old newspapers have holes occurring only on the surnames.

  • John, son of Thomas, the immigrant whom your relatives claim as the family progenitor, died on board ship at age 10.

  • Your great grandfather's newspaper obituary states that he died leaving no issue of record.

  • The keeper of the vital records you need has just been insulted by another genealogist.

  • The relative who had all the family photographs gave them to her daughter who has no interest in genealogy and no inclination to share.

  • The only record you find for your great grandfather is that his property was sold at a sheriff's sale for insolvency.

  • The one document that would supply the missing link in your dead-end line has been lost due to fire, flood or war.

  • The town clerk to whom you wrote for the information sends you a long handwritten letter which is totally illegible.

  • The spelling of your European ancestor's name bears no relationship to its current spelling or pronunciation.

  • None of the pictures in your recently deceased grandmother's photo album have names written on them.

  • No one in your family tree ever did anything noteworthy, owned property, was sued or was named in wills.

  • You learn that your great aunt's executor just sold her life's collection of family genealogical materials to a flea market dealer "somewhere in New York City."

  • Ink fades and paper deteriorates at a rate inversely proportional to the value of the data recorded.

  • The 37-volume, 16,000-page history of your county of origin isn't indexed.

  • You finally find your great grandparent's wedding records and discover that the brides' father was named John Smith.