Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Paradox, a Paradox, a Most Ingenious Paradox

Randy Seaver's latest Saturday night/Sunday morning fun at Genea-Musings is to find ancestors who were born or married on 29 February, Leap Year day. I ran a search for 29 Feb in my genealogy program, Reunion, using the "Find Anything" option under the Find menu (Reunion does not appear to have a separate find function for dates), and it came up with a list of five hits: one date of birth, three dates of death, and one date of burial:

Last Name First & Mid Name Birth Date Birth Place Death Date

Hodson Vera Louise 29 Feb 1992
Lewis William B. 31 Aug 1875 South Carolina 27 Feb 1928
(buried on 29 Feb 1928)
Osborne Florence Belzora 29 Feb 1884 Callihan, McMullen Co., Texas
Rice George Washington 14 Oct 1870 Arkansas 29 Feb 1948
Sullivan Haskell Clayton 3 Aug 1907 29 Feb 1996

(All of the above persons married into my family lines except for William B. Lewis, who is a first cousin twice removed.)

I am still in the process of inputting research into my genealogy program, so it does not include nearly all the family lines that I am aware of and I did not expect to get any hits, so before running the search, I looked up the lyrics to "A Paradox" from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance:


For some ridiculous reason, to which, however, I’ve no desire to be disloyal,
Some person in authority, I don’t know who, very likely the Astronomer Royal,
Has decided that, although for such a beastly month as February,
twenty-eight days as a rule are plenty,
One year in every four his days shall be reckoned as nine and twenty.
Through some singular coincidence – I shouldn’t be surprised if it were owing to the
agency of an ill-natured fairy –
You are the victim of this clumsy arrangement, having been born in leap-year,
on the twenty-ninth of February;
And so, by a simple arithmetical process, you’ll easily discover,
That though you’ve lived twenty-one years, yet, if we go by birthdays,
you’re only five and a little bit over!

Ruth and King:

Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!
Ho! ho! ho! ho!


Dear me!
Let’s see! (counting on fingers)
Yes, yes; with yours my figures do agree!

Ruth and King:

Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!


How quaint the ways of Paradox!
At common sense she gaily mocks!
Though counting in the usual way,
Years twenty-one I’ve been alive.
Yet, reckoning by my natal day,
Yet, reckoning by my natal day,
I am a little boy of five!


  1. Hi, Greta! Do you like Reunion? I have a friend on a Mac that was wondering if Reunion would be a good match for them.

    I also wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for a Kreativ Blogger Award. I know this is a duplicate, but I wanted to let you know that I have enjoyed reading your blog.

  2. Aw, thank you, Laura - I am always happy and proud to receive encouragement from a respected fellow genea-blogger. I really like Reunion; it's easy to use and has the features I need. It's also easy to look up how to do things on the help menu.