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Donna's Journal
November 17, 2004 - Genealogy


     Before I became interested in the history of families there were times when I would meet a person and as I made their acquaintance some strange feeling might be there. Nothing was ever solid enough to explain. Once a chemistry teacher mentioned this in one of his lectures.

      “What is it?  he asked, “that causes a person to have an slight, unsettled feeling about someone they have just met?”  He felt it might be something chemical in people's body make-up.

       After seeing the links in relationships of families I believe it is something about having a sense of connection as far as blood relationship is concerned.

      I've learned to go along with that intuitive awareness rather than push it away from me. In becoming sensitive to a particular characteristic in a person then it is possible to enjoy meeting someone new and at the same time have the capacity to accept the strength of whatever genes or emotions that tie me to them. By doing this it has been a great opportunity to pick up wonderful bits of information to fill in blank spaces on the family tree. In fact if I had not been responsive in this way many clues would have been lost.

      This is the advantage we had before the computer, although, certainly, the wealth of information now available that way is not to be passed up.  The experiences of dragging through dusty court house records, back rooms of libraries or even being allowed to sift through total strangers records, all these were great and wonderful memories.

      I had been told this particular woman who worked as a librarian was a descendant of one of the family linages I wished to research. I had never met her but as I walked into the door of the library and started to the historical section she stood looking at me. I had not said a word even though I was thinking, “Wow! This woman looks like me.”

      She spoke to me with a haughty voice, “Well!  Just because we look just alike doesn't mean we are related!”

      I wanted to laugh out loud and say, “Lady, you said it. I was only thinking it.”  But, of course, I knew this was no way to get any help with research so I only quietly smiled.

      As it turned out I did get a lot of information on her branch of the family and learned new names, hers included. What a fun memory that was.

     Even telephone conversations have been such a great remembrance.  I had searched high and low for one branch of the family with absolutely no results. Finally, it occurred to me I'd never looked in my own phone book. Upon finding the name located in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods there was a reluctance to call the number. The shaky little voice was of someone who was  obviously elderly.

      After I explained to her what I was doing, looking for the family of my great-grandmother's maiden name she said, “Yes Honey!  You are one of ours.  But, I am very elderly and this very week I'm going into a rest home. My husband, to whom you were related, has passed away and I'm quite alone. I am going to give you his sister's name who lives in another town.”

      To think I had searched all over the nation and finally found the link right in my own hometown was an experience to remember.

      Another time I desperately called a town in the south who had a long list of names exactly the same as my grandfather's. Again I spoke with an elderly man, who told me he was eighty-four.  He was very pleasant when I explained what I was doing. He asked if my father was living.

      “No, he passed away a short time ago and I should have asked him these things but didn't.”  I said.

      “He wasn't able to give me any hard and fast links but the aura of his culture meant more to me than facts. He was as gentle and loving with his advise as my own father would have been.

      “Now my dear,” he spoke with a heavy southern accent, “you are married and this is the family with whom you are now associated. I know you miss your father (I had not told him that) but you can put your energies to your husband's family now, his father and mother if they are living.”

      This was exactly what my own father would have told me. I knew it and so did this gentleman in a far away state which belonged to my great great-grandfather so many years ago.  Who can explain the great mysteries tied to this part of our lives called family?


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