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Twila Van Leer: When dead men and women do tell tales



You hear it a lot in pirate movies. It's one of a buccaneer's favorite lines: "Dead men tell no tales!" Generally it is spoken just as the mustachioed scourge of the seas is about to test the theory by thrusting a sword into some vital spot on his hapless victim's anatomy.

Well, Heather Walgren begs to differ. She told a group attending a session at the recent RootsTech family history and technology conference that dead men tell great stories. Obituaries, in most cases the "last word" in an individual's life, are chock full of the kind of rich detail that makes family historians drool. The usual obit includes the deceased person's birth and death dates, parents, spouse(s), children, siblings, places of residence, education and work experience, religious and civic affiliations, funeral arrangements, etc., etc., etc. A pirate should be so lucky to find such a treasure trove!