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Monday, October 27, 1997

Squarely Pegged

By Peggy McCracken

Bob got wrapped up
hunting ancestors

Bob Marlin was shocked when he found out his name was really Margolin, and his heritage was Jewish. Finding the grave of grandparents he never knew forced the genealogy researcher to his knees in a fit of weeping.

I didn't know my granparents either, but my folks did talk about them, and I have some idea where they came from and what they were like. Sometimes I want to go exploring for forebears, but after reading Marlin's book, I think it is more trouble than it would be worth.

After all, names on a passenger list or addresses in a city directory are just ink on paper. They don't give you a relationship with the person named, and there's no way you can go back in history to know them personally.

Marlin did uncover some relatives he didn't know existed, and he enjoyed visiting with them and learning more about his heritage. I suppose when you don't have immediate family left, second cousins can be a blessing.

I enjoyed visiting with my two sisters last weekend, when we had a booth at the Fall Foliage Festival in Quitaque. We get together whenever we can, bringing each other up to date on our families and planning for the future. We talk some about the past, but we seem to be too busy looking ahead to spend much time looking back.

People tell me that you can get so wrapped up in hunting for ancestors that you go to any lengths to find out about them. Marlin kinda did that, uncovering a wine maker, cabinetmaker, a rabbi who seemed to preside at every wedding in the family; a clerk and a ship's carpenter. That was just the men. The women spent their time bearing children, lots of them. They came from France, Germany, Denmark and Russia, and they were Catholics, Protestants and Jews.

Marlin traveled thousands of miles compiling information from birth and death certificates, city directories, passenger lists, immigration documents, from interviews and from headstones.

He found that most of the immigrants Americanized their names, changing Budiansky to Budinoff and and then to Boudin. No wonder my grandfather Gunn went by a nickname instead of Licurgas Aurelius. I wonder what Gunn is derived from?

But I don't wonder enough to go trapising all over the country looking at gravestones and microfilm. Last weekend, my sister wore a tartan plaid cap with the name Gunn stitched on the brim. She says the blue and green plaid identifies the wearer as part of the Gunn clan from Scotland. I guess that's about as much as I need to know about my heritage. This world is not my home, anyway; I am just passing through. See you on the other side?

"I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants." Isaiah 44:3b, NIV.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is webmaster and staff writer whose column appears each Tuesday. Her e-mail address is

Our View

Voters go to the polls on proposed amendments

Voters will go to the ballot box Tuesday, Nov. 4 to vote on 14 proposed constitutional amendments to the state constitution. Early voting is already underway and ends this coming Friday.

Here is a look at the proposed amendments and how we view them.

- No. 1 would allow municipal judges to hold office in more than one city. We believe this should be approved as single court judges are traditionally underutilized and this amendment would allow for better use of their training and experience.

- No. 2 would authorize the legislature to limit the tax appraisal on the homestead value a maximum of 10 per cent annually and allow a tax freeze transfer for homestead property acquired on or after Jan. 1, 1993 for persons age 65 or older. This would help home owners in areas where there is rapid appreciating value on an appraised homestead and we believe it should be passed.

- No. 3 permits property tax exemptions where a water conservation initiative has been implemented and we believe it should be approved under local officials having authority to set budgets.

- No. 4 also should be approved as it is a housekeeping measure to clean up the Texas constitution by deleting obsolete provisions made void by federal laws.

- No. 5 allows the Texas Supreme Court to conduct business outside of Austin which should also be approved as it provides citizens of Texas better access to the court.

- No. 6 should also be supported as it eliminates the procedure the Texas Growth Fund is required to follow which is disclosing investments made to South Africa.

- No. 7 should be supported as it gives the Texas Water Development Board authority to issue all existing bond authority and gives local officials control over dispensing funds into different projects.

- No. 8 would expand extensions of credit and reverse mortgages on homesteads at the owner's discretion. We believe this amendment needs to be approved as it opens avenues for homeowners to use home equity to get loans.

- No. 9 authorizes a tax increase for rural fire prevention districts in Harris County. No recommendation as this does not involve our area. This probably deserves a yes vote to let people in that district do what they want.

- No. 10 would safegaurd the use of the crime victim's compensation funds so it cannot be diverted for further use, an issue we support.

- No. 11 limits the state debt by requiring a two-thirds vote of the legislature plus statewide voter approval before the current 5 per cent of the average amount of general revenues for stte debt can be raised, an issue which we believe should be approved.

- No. 12 sets a deadline for the Texas Supreme Court on action taken on a rehearing. This should not be approved as the deadline is not specific but we believe something should be done to prevent undue delays in justice.

- No. 13 permits the Texas Tomorrow Fund (designed to allow parents or grandparents to pay for their children's college education at today's prices) investments to be guarded by a full faith and credit backing, a proposition that should be approved.

- No. 14 requires candidates who seek to hold the county office of a constable to meet suitable qualification for the position. This issue has been controversial for years and we don't believe it should be passed as the voters should be allowed to vote for whomever they choose regardless of qualifications which are non-specific.

Whatever your choices on these propositions, the most important issue is to let your voice be heard by casting a ballot. See you at the polls.

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