Monday, August 22, 2011

Genealogy Highlight of the Week

The number one highlight of this week was lunch on Saturday with the great granddaughter of my grandmother's cousin. We met through member trees and she lives only about thirty minutes away. This was the first she had heard of my grandmother and our family. She was a little cautious about meeting me, but by the time we went our separate ways two hours later we were fast friends.

My grandmother was raised mostly as an only child in Iowa and her mother died when she was almost five. Grandma's cousin left for Oregon in 1904 when grandma was one. There were letters and packages full or treasures shared over the years from her mother's sister in Oregon. Then in about 1920 grandma was sent to live with her cousin's family. This was a very celebrated event for both of them. One can only imagine the trip from Iowa to Oregon on a train, with her small basket holding her belongings, coming to live with people she would hardly know.

At our meeting in a local restaurant, where we would both feel comfortable, I immediately recognized her as she looked so much like her grandmother who I knew from my childhood. We had so much to share. As a youth I met her father and his brother's at a family reunion. These nice young men held interest for an easily infatuated teenager. We even bought my wedding ring at her grandfather's store.

I provided her with the descendency of the family from our ancestors of 1630s to those of my father's generation. For privacy reasons I withheld information on the living. When I was a much younger genealogist and the Internet was fairly new, I had shared with another relative of hers our family information. Unfortunately that person posted it on the Internet with my mother's information and that was a breach of privacy as she is still living. In those days I could not determine exactly who posted it, as this information was not given, and to this day it may still be lurking on the Internet.

The night before we met I felt impressed to share a few of the things from my collection. I met her great grandmother one time in about 1970. At this meeting I made an audio recording and took some pictures. She and my grandma had fun reminiscing over their shared memories. The pictures I shared at our meeting were of this event and the treasure box of her great grandmother. My main regrets from early genealogy experiences are that I did not take better pictures. There were items in the box she would not part with and oh, how I wish I had at least taken a picture of them.

The last thing I shared with her was the history her great grandmother had written about her family. It amazed me she had not seen a copy from her family's collection. One person maintains their family's collection and our goal is to some way gain access to those items. There are so many more things that I can share with her, but that was enough for one day. I directed her to my online postings and blog for further reading.

Within my collection is a family bible that truly belongs to her family and I have often thought about what I should do with it. Rightfully it should be theirs. I am not even sure how I came to possess it and possibly her great grandmother gave it to me that day we met. For some reason many of the family history mementos were passed to my grandmother when her other aunt and uncle passed away in Iowa. She then passed them on to me. As family guardian to these keepsakes I have a keen sense of responsibility in passing them on to others who will appreciate them.

I told her as we parted that I would be blogging about this experience, as it is one of those unique occurences in doing our family history research. The Internet enables us to make connections today that would have been impossible ten years ago. Each of us probably has some unknown family members. I encourage you to look for some of yours.

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