Friday, July 15, 2011

Genealogy Serendipty Mosments Hau/Mayer Family

It is almost midnight and this should have been done yesterday. This week I have been working on writing a paper about the John Hau and Helen Mayer Family who were Germans that came to America in the 1850s. The purpose of the paper is to contribute a story to the local genealogical society quarterly. Now that it has grown to ten pages, it will probably have to be condensed for the publication. I do tend to become wrapped up in a project like this and want to be very thorough.
After the article is published my plan is to place the full article on this blog.

There have been many serendipity moments with this research and I have already shared some in this blog. The moment that occurred this week happened after my client was reading the story. To write the story I used three separate books written by her grandmother and given to three of her children. There is one other known book that was given to another child that we have been trying to gain access to. The client knew I would be traveling to Utah this next week and I explained to her that we were spending the night in Idaho on the way. She asked where in Idaho and then she looked at me with wonder and said that it was the same town where the book is. I had been told this previously, but had long ago pushed the hopes of traveling there to gain access to this book in the recess of my memory. As her thoughts processed the timeliness of these circumstances, she called her uncle to ask if he would make the book available to us. So keep your fingers crossed for us that this meeting can take place as we are hoping.

In the process of writing the paper I also used the Civil War Widow's Pension application file, which she did not receive as they could not prove his service. We also have Catholic Church records for the family, cemetery records, passenger list records, his naturalization document, the marriage record found in the pension file and online (two different versions), army enlistment information online, and death certificates found online. The census research was vital to placing them in a location, as well as understanding the family group. We used written histories to place in perspective the information found in the family books. Some of what the grandmother wrote was confusing and was not always historically accurate.

One must be very careful when using information from older relatives whose memories fade or become altered as the years pass. In contrast to that problem is the major blessing of being able to have family history provided to us by our relatives or people who knew our ancestors. Reach out to those who have these memories and preserve them for the future generations to come. Then be sure to prepare the memories in a format that can be shared and protected from the ravages of time. I hope you have a great week with a few serendipity moments of your own.

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