Thursday, November 10, 2011

Serendipity in Genealogy

I strongly believe that if our ancestors want to be found, they will find a way to show us. Whether it's tripping over what appears to be a rock but is actually the gravestone you have been looking for, bumping into a stranger that knows something about your family, coming across a photo album with pictures of your family while browsing an antique store or meeting a cousin you never knew you had, these things have a way of happening. You can call it luck. You can call it serendipity. Call it whatever you want. Our ancestors let us know when they want to be found.

Early in my research, I had contacted a lookup volunteer to try to locate a marriage record for my 2nd great grandparents. I got more than I expected. When the volunteer responded, it was with the information that he had a connection to my 2nd great grandfather as well. He graciously shared his research into the line.

A couple years ago, I was searching on Footnote for obituaries for some members of my paternal line. When I opened one of the results, I was surprised to learn that it wasn't an obituary, but a newspaper column mentioning the person I was searching for. When I scrolled up to enlarge the page for easier reading, I learned that my great grandmother had written the column. After doing a little digging, I found out that she had written a column for the local newspaper for several years.

Last year, while out of state attending two family funerals, my mom and I visited a cemetery in the area where my 2nd great grandfather's brother and his wife (who may be my 2nd great grandmother's sister) are buried. While at the cemetery, we talked to a member of the church, who turned out to be a grandson of the couple.

A few weeks ago, I got a message from my aunt alerting me to a cousin on Facebook who had put up some family pictures. After sending her a friend request, I looked through her friend list to see if I could find any other family members and ended up coming across another cousin who had even more family pictures. That cousin led to another one and I now have over 50 family members as friends, many of whom I wasn't aware of until recently. Thanks to all these new cousins, I now have a lot of family pictures, stories and clues for my brick walls.

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