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and formed his own gang at the age of
twelve, robbing shops and blowing up several
buildings in Virginia and the Carolinas. He
joined the Confederate Army on the outbreak
of the Civil War, and then switched sides in
1864 prior to the Union victory. Afterwards, he
moved further west and resumed his career of
robbery and murder, concentrating on banks
and railways. Finally, he was captured and
eventually executed by electric chair in San
Quentin Prison, California, at age 58, after ten
years incarceration on Death Row.
Knowing that such deflating revelations would
scupper any chance of the promised large
fee, the genealogist decided that, in this case,
presentation must take precedence over the
facts. Accordingly, and without actually
going into specific detail, he presented his
client with a short, but glowing report that
neatly summed up his findings.
'Dear Sir,
I am extremely happy to report that, after
many difficulties, my research has established
that your great-uncle was indeed a man of
exceptional achievements, whose character
was marked by a commendable reticence
that courted no publicity or praise for anything
he did. After completing his education at an
early age, he devoted most of his adult life to
the noble cause of more equitably distributing
wealth in our society, a path which involved
him in direct dealings with most of our leading
finance and transportation companies in sev-
eral states. When war threatened our nation,
he was quick to offer his services, showing
favour to no one clique or cause, but in the
interests of all. Later he undertook a long term
of public office in one of our foremost law-
enforcement establishments, before finally
accepting the distinction offered him of occu-
pying a chair in applied electricity. He main-
tained this position until, like many illustrious
predecessors, he died in harness. All who
were with him at the end remember that he
was possessed of great energy and drive, and
confirm that he left this life in a blaze of glory.'
All of which proves, once again, that it's not
what you say but how you say it that really
counts.
By Willie O'Kane