History is a pack of lies

Napoléon said history is a pack of lies, agreed upon.

Actually that’s not exactly right. He said, “Mais qu’est alors cette vérité historique, la plupart du temps? Une fable convenue.” Translated, that would be “What then is the truth of history, generally? A fable agreed upon.”

But he didn’t claim originality there. It’s been a popular idea, both before and since. For a breezy summary see “What Is History But a Fable Agreed Upon?” at Quote Investigator <quoteinvestigator.com>.

My favorite version of this comes from one of my old college professors — Objectivity is nothing more than consensual subjectivity.

I try to remember this when doing genealogy. Some people will tell you they know the answer, based on their own research. And their “research” is often nothing more than a statement they found on the Internet or in an old book somewhere. No citation, no analysis.

These are the people who are most shocked to hear that experts doubt. This surprise is the first and best evidence that a fellow researcher is working at an entry level.

They don’t yet know reality, even genealogical reality, is consensual. Given, the available evidence, if there is any other reasonable answer, you’re still working in the world of theory and possibility. What you want, what we all want, is to get to a point where there is consensus.

Wyoming Brands

There’s a book on the cattle brands of Green River, Wyoming. Branded: History of Green River Valley and Hoback Basin Brands (2016), compiled and published by Green River Valley Cattlewomen.

Branded, by the Green River Valley Cattlewomen.
Bill Luce
Bill Luce

My great grandfather Bill Luce (1864-194) lived there. I bought the book, thinking his brands might be mentioned. No such luck.

I asked Jonita Sommers. She said, “nobody asked and payed to have them put in.” I guess my psychic skills failed me, here.

Luce brands
Luce brands

Great grandpa’s brands were the LU Quarter Circle, which was his first brand; the Circle Dot; and the Flying Heart. Jonita says, “The Flying Heart is now used by Don Kendall, old CEO of Pepsi who bought the place in the 80s.  Now has old Alexander place on Newfork.  The other two I don’t think are in use.”