Saturday, April 10, 2010
Knee Deep in Discovery
I'm knee deep-not "knee deep in June" as the James Whitcomb Riley poem describes..knee deep in genealogy. I'd been away from it for nearly a year-regretfully but feeling that I'd gone as far as I could. Refreshingly, I got started again full on course. I received by email (the internet is one of the most amazingly convenient and immediate modes of communication and sharing)some pictures I'd never seen from a cousin of Michael's. Michael hadn't seen his cousin in 50 years and then only saw him rarely. His cousin's quest was initiated by a friend of his son's who had contacted me through Ancestry.com. She was doing a favor for her friend as a gift whom she knew never knew much at all about his father's family. She and I unlocked many lost pieces and secrets that I'm sure Michael's mother didn't even know.
Things started clicking in my mind again and I got the big hat box of old pictures and grandma's funeral guest book. I started looking up the names of family who had signed their condolences and who had sent floral gifts. VOILA~perseverance, lots of patience and a discerning eye for birth dates, scrambled names written by well meaning census takers and other members of families are the key to unlocking the mysteries of relationships and identity of old photos.
Michael and his cousin knew none of the names I asked them to recall..they both said they only knew their grandma and she died when they were 9 and 17. They really didn't pay much attention and no one ever seemed to talk about the family which is a common thread in many families. Maybe because back then relatives lived very close together on the same street or in the same town or county. Maybe because there were secrets that were to never be discussed.
Last night after many hours of checking pages and pages of census and border crossings and ship arrivals for siblings of whom I deduced were related to their great grandma I am 98% sure I have found her maiden name and her parents name and their origins. I didn't uncover royal ties like Brooke Shields did in the television series "Who Do You Think You Are", and rarely will you uncover such a link, but it is exciting to at last know names and occupations and to be able to identify people in photographs...people who worked in skilled labor and farming jobs and lived ordinary houses that housed many children who grew up,got married and did the same hard working jobs to build this country from the ground up.