The Surreal in Genealogy

Photo Courtesy of Amazon Prime

Yes, this is the season to be jolly and I am reading a fascinating book that’s anything but jolly this week that I got for free on Amazon Prime. Each month I get a free Kindle book of the month and I selected Murder at Teal’s Pond by David Bushman and Mark T. Givens for my December freebie. I made my selection because I was a Twin Peaks fan of the original series though I didn’t like how creepy it got in the 2000’s so I didn’t finish watching the series. That reason alone wasn’t why I chose this book to read. I was shocked to learn that the show was based off a real life event that just happened to have occurred in upstate New York where my husband’s paternal family once resided. Wow! Who knew?! And I’ve even done boots on the ground research in that location!

Even if you weren’t a Twin Peaks Fan or had kin in the Troy, New York region I recommend this book for the research methods that was employed in an attempt to solve the 113+ murder of Hazel Drew who looked remarkably like Laura Palmer. Talk about typecasting! The authors use many of the strategies that we genealogists do – searching old newspapers, investigating the FAN Club and interviewing the living who might have had knowledge of the event past down to them.

Like Mark Frost who was a co-creator of Twin Peaks, he first learned about the murder from his grandmother who was retelling a different story that had happened at Teal’s Pond. When he questioned her about the details she told him about the murder but didn’t provide much background. As an adult, he decided to dig deeper and that’s how Twin Peaks was brought to life.

There’s a message in here – with the holiday’s approaching you may be interacting with family that you weren’t able to see last year. Make sure you are recording their stories. Who knows, you may end up with a hit TV series because of your efforts.

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