This will be the first in a series of my genealogical research stories.
As I previously disclosed in an earlier post, I have been involved in Genealogy for almost two decades. This story is the one that seems to touch closest to my heart. It occurred almost fifteen years ago and it still can bring me to tears.
The world of Genealogy is immense and I am still in awe with it’s camaraderie. Generally, they are a group of people who truly want to help others locate their ancestry. And within a short period of time, you begin to develop relationships with complete strangers who eventually become friends. One grows to feel as though you have known each other forever.
When I began, Ancestry had no hints or shaking leaves. It was a lot of searching through records, one by one trying to find that specific family member. I remember message boards for surnames, places or general information where I wrote a post looking for information on my great grandfather. He had come from Ireland in the late 1800’s and relatives had given me a town’s name where they thought he had lived. Each night, I would look and hope for an answer but none ever came.
One evening, a post from an Irish man looking for his long lost uncle caught my eye. Apparently, his father’s favorite uncle had left Ireland in the 1900’s but they lost contact once he arrived in the United States. His father had been searching over thirty years for his uncle and he had recently passed away. Now, the son was taking up this quest as a promise made to his dying father. He was told that the uncle’s destination was New Jersey and he might have been in law enforcement. The post seemed to call me, “You’re from New Jersey! Why not help this guy?”
With much of my own Ancestry completed, I decided to volunteer my services to this Irish man, Brendan and attempt to locate any records in the United States. What I soon discovered was his father had accrued an arsenal of information but he had hit a brick wall. Pleasantries were over quickly and soon we were down to business. A dynamic duo emailing with new sources and records on a daily basis.
Finally late one evening, I began to really look at the passenger list of the uncle’s immigration to the United States. Lo and behold, there in almost illegible writing was the destination, a town in New Jersey. So excited to discover that the town was right next to where I had grown up and lived my entire life. And in the next column it listed the name of who you were going to live with, there so faintly was the name of my great grandfather’s sister married name. Shocked, is how I felt next because in extremely small writing was their relationship, half sister. What are the chances?
The story doesn’t end there!