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Monday, August 23, 2010

Sleepless in Salem

Sleeping fitfully, images flashed in and out of my mind like "olde tyme" movies on a screen.  Dialogue, real and imagined, punctuated my rest.
Who were these people?  Strangers to me, yes, but relatives just the same.  What a stern looking bunch this group was!  Did they have any fun?  What a contrast to the other half of the family - my mothers line still waiting to be entered into its place in my little but ever growing collection. 
What have I left out?  Most data is coming from census records, birth certificates, obituaries and baptismal/confirmation records - not unusual sources.  In fact, the most typical sources of information for a genealogist.  Some, the best, from a second cousin I located off a message board on the internet some years ago.  Strange that I got to meet and correspond with a first cousin of my fathers whom he had never met and probably had no knowledge of.  Victim of a family littered with cut-offs and disconnects, her grandfather and mine had "fallen out" of touch as they did with their third brother.  Some one hundred years later, their grandchildren, drawn by whatever yearning they had to search for family, became connected once again.  Females this time and less prone to the sort of falling outs that characterize competitive brothers, the three of us exchanged what little we knew of our own grandfathers and compared notes on what we had head about the others.  This association, while loosely formed, proved timely as one of the three, Joanie, "Fritzs" grandchild, passed away soon after.  It was an honor to have gotten to know what little I did about her.  A very private woman, she called frequently and talked for long periods of time from her home in Chicago, Illinois.  We had made tentative plans to meet but were never able to finalize them.  Ever thankful for having found her, I'll ever regret not having pushed harder to meet in person.  Time wasted and an opportunity lost.
 

Happily, another second cousin, Barbara, (seen above with her husband, Don, me and my mother, Elly) is an excellent correspondant and an experienced genealogist, volunteering her expertise to the LDS church near her home in Ridgetown, Ontario.  She has been an enormous help and support to me and I am truly grateful to her.  She and her husband visited me in Wilson several years ago and brought boxes of photographs I had never seen before.  Spread out on my dining room table, they looked like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, just waiting to be put together.
Even my mom was impressed by this collection of photos and information with details she never knew.
My dad, having died some years before, had never known this, his charming second cousin nor her mother, his first cousin. What fun they might have had together.  Perhaps there might have been some photographs of smiling faces to link to these somber countenances.

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