Genealogy for a hundred, Alex!

I see myself on Jeopardy.  The category is “All in the Family Tree."  The answer: “This prolific genealogist and writer bears the name of three historic generals.”  I buzz in.  “Who is Sherman Lee Pompey?”  The studio audience goes wild.  Is there no beginning to this man’s fund of arcane information?  In fact, “There is no beginning to this man’s fund of arcane information,” could also serve as the answer to the question, “Who is Sherman Lee Pompey?"

Anyone even mildly interested in family research must have run across his name.  Amazon lists him as the author of 285 genealogical items, mostly muster lists, census returns, and indexes, helpful items with obvious titles such as “Civil War veteran burial listings," but also a few major works with longer and more creative titles.  My favorite is "The miserable lives of the poor, the indigent, the paupers, and others of their ilk in England and where to find their genealogical records,” though the reason his name comes up in this blog is his 1962 publication, "The Wolf and Little Wolf: Being a history of the Lovells of England and America and the Lovewells of America.”

I have not read Pompey’s book on the Lovells and Lovewells in its entirety, but I did riffle through his manuscript on one occasion and remember reading a chapter or two of his published volume during visits to the Kansas Center for Historical Research.  If I’m not mistaken, Pompey scrunched together a few previous works, "A Biographical Genealogy Of The Lovell Family In England And America” by May Lovell Rhodes and T. D. Rhodes, a scholarly volume that is as dry as it sounds, livening things up by including some of Orel Poole’s writings about her grandparents, Thomas and Orel Jane Lovewell.  While I can’t be certain, bits of Samuel Harrison Lovewell’s unpublished manuscript about the Lovewell family may have been used to bridge the two sections.

It may be unfair to make Pompey sound less like a writer than a chemist, or a cook who stirred together various brands of canned soup and repackaged the result under his own label.  I remember his Lovewell book as being well-written, and his prolific output suggests that he was genuinely dedicated to his subject.

A cousin of mine who was somewhat acquainted with him found him a bit too enthusiastic.  She complained that he could be a nuisance at funerals, where he would show up to pump the bereaved for family information, while scribbling vigorously in his notebook.  Dedicated, if sometimes thoughtless.  After reading that description, I reflected on the many times I’ve breathlessly regaled friends and colleagues with news of my own latest discoveries, whether they wanted to hear about them or not.  Dedicated, if sometimes thoughtless, might be a fitting epitaph for both of us.

After all, if Sherman Lee Pompey were alive today, you know what he would be doing?

Blogging, blogging, blogging.              

© Dale Switzer 2023