The old rabbit hole…again

The bride is my Aunt Mary (my mother’s sister). I suspect the older man to her right is her dad, the mysterious grandfather of whom I have no picture. The young man standing behind her is most likely one of her brothers. Based on the ears, all the other men are related to the groom. My family does not have taxi door ears!

Some people are doing puzzles. I’m doing ancestry research. I lot of what I do is figure out who is who, verify important dates and post high school yearbook pictures (yes it’s good for a laugh!).

This has been a great year for me. Early in the year someone from Austria contacted me to help identify pictures. He had a professional portrait of my dad’s entire family taken when he was around 10. This is the only photo I have of my paternal grandmother. I knew she looked like one of her daughters but having a real picture is fabulous! It’s also the only picture I have of my dad as a child. Here is the original post with the picture.

During the summer, someone connected to my maternal grandmother’s side of the family contacted me. I didn’t have much information on her family at all. I couldn’t find siblings. I had a few vague memories from my childhood that wasn’t enough for exploring. My grandmother died when I was three. Through this new contact I have my grandmother’s side of the family back to the 1700’s.

It’s not easy. Women often died in childbirth. Wives who died were quickly replaced. There were kids to be raised and more to be born. Some men had three wives in their lifetime. Makes tracking harder. Of course many had the same first name too. Back then, people weren’t creative about naming babies. No Moonunit or Tallulah!

I thought that was my treat for the year but this past week, another distant cousin contacted me with some questions. He sent me a professional picture of his great-grandmother’s wedding. She was my mother’s sister. I have pictures of her but in this one there is an older man next to her. I think it’s her dad, my grandfather. He died in 1918 and I don’t have any photos of him. From information I have found from his draft card, the vague details (average height, stocky build) fit. I am over the moon.

He also had a photo of my mother’s older siblings. It was taken before she was born. I can see a family resemblance but it’s much harder with such young children.

This is my silver lining. I’m not the only one doing research. Maybe I’ll find another distant relative with some information I don’t know. Just like puzzle pieces. Sometimes you have to jiggle around to see where they fit or if they fit. I have a few loose ends that may or may not be related to me! I found some weird stuff too. Two very distant (very, very distant) relatives were jailed for murder.

Maybe I’d rather have a box of chocolates!

62 thoughts on “The old rabbit hole…again

    • It’s a true treasure. There are no pictures of this man anywhere in my immediate family. His two oldest sons looked like him when they aged. His youngest who was close to my mom’s age did not. I don’t have pictures of the two oldest and only remember the older one (the other died when I was young). It’s been a good year for research.

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        • Even my brother (who has been blase about the whole thing) got excited. This grandfather died when my mother was 9. There were no pictures so none of us knew what he looked like. It turns out that his oldest two sons (but not the rest of them) looked like him. I have nothing but good things to say about the ancestry sites. They matched up parts of my family that I didn’t know existed and gave me information I never thought I’d get. My own parents eloped so there was no professional wedding portrait. 😦

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  1. I went down the rabbit hole and spent the whole summer of 2003 there in an genealogy library searching through archives manually before the internet and ancestry.com I quit when I had spent 4 hours searching for a death certificate and went outside and realized I had missed a beautiful fall day. I never picked it up again. In truth I was between jobs and had to go back to work. Maybe some day…….but I’m afraid of being sucked in again. I had also run into a lot of dead ends both here and in Ireland. I have my Dutch side back to 1700 or so but as I never met any of them it’s not as meaningful. Except for one uncle, not one single member of my family (ie siblings) was interested……although I made binders with copies for some of the branches of the family I doubt they were ever opened.

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  2. HI, Kate – When I was still working, I began researching my Family Tree on Ancestry.com. Because of ‘Rabitholeitis’, I quickly ran away screaming and thought that I would pick it up again in my retirement. I tried to work on it during my first month of retirement and just couldn’t do it. I tried again last fall. I was able to stick with it long enough to tie a couple of loose ends together but I really didn’t uncover much meaty stuff (no info on anyone being jailed for murder). I admire you for sticking with it and making it a very meaningful project!

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    • It hasn’t been a smooth ride. I didn’t do it for a year and often drop it for months. It gets very frustrating. What has kept me going is the occasional contact with new and different information that allows more research. Without them, I’d be hitting that wall all the time!

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  3. That is interesting what you’ve discovered and the old pictures are fascinating too. You are one of four people I know who are really involved in tracing their ancestors and spend a lot of effort working on their heritage. My friend Carol (cat friend I’ve mentioned) has traced her ancestors and hired a genealogy expert in Germany to help locate German relatives, living or otherwise. Carol did my tree – I was amazed how comprehensive a report she got from Ancestry. I knew the names, but not the dates/ages, etc. – it was an interesting read.

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    • The new stuff I have came from people who reached out to me. I was able to give them some information they didn’t have and they gave me the same along with wonderful pictures! I don’t always keep at it. I get frustrated and drop it for a couple months. Then I go back. Especially now that there isn’t much else to do.

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    • Funny story — I gave my brother the picture. He was trying to describe who it was to his wife who had met her later in life. He said, “You know, the witchy one!” She had a sharp tongue on her that one didn’t forget. Still, she was a beautiful young woman. She was beautiful when she was older but she dressed in her mother’s style rather than being current. I remember the braids wrapped around her head and the black tie-up shoes. My mother was about 10 years younger but there seemed to be a generation difference.

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      • Same with my aunt – older sister of my mom – age difference but such a big gap between styles. She too wore her hair braided across head was past college when my mom was first in line for “the modern bob”. Mu aunt wanted to be in a sorority but was turned down because she looked (and acted) so old fashioned. Family stories do create a lovely picture once all the pieces are found ( and how rare that is – we were too young – and too young to know what to ask while some could remember what came before?)

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        • I know! I could kick myself that I didn’t ask my mom more about her life. She would talk a little about living through the depression and some things about her childhood. She was one of nine so it was different. Not much money and all the kids had chores. She always talked about when her dad died. She was nine and she remembers that the war (WW1) had ended and the bells were ringing. Her dad kept asking them to turn off the bells. Rips at the heart to hear that was her last memory of her dad.

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  4. This is a whole different kind of puzzle right! My sister-in-law started doing the same a few years back, she calls it her ‘winter project’. Like you she’s had some roadblocks along the way but she loves it. I love to hear the stories but I don’t think I would have the patience. Great job Kate

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    • It does take patience. Weeding through old docs, even on-line, is work. Sometimes the documents give conflicting information. In the small villages there were several people with the same name. I want to pull my hair out! I go at it for a while. Then I drop it for months. Lately it gets sparked when someone contacts me with new information and then I have a set of new leads.

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      • I have been happily churning through my TBR pile. Reading in the recliner with a cat in my lap is preferable to reading on the bus (my former usual). The cat keeps me reading more often and longer. I love to have one in my lap! My Audible usage has also increased, which likely reflects my stress occupation. No TV.

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  5. This really is the perfect thing to do right now. Congrats on finding so many people and making contact. My nephews started their own work on this a few months ago, but I fear they might have stopped because I haven’t heard from them in weeks (or maybe they just don’t need me anymore!). You are inspiring me to do something similar. – Marty

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    • It’s like a puzzle but with a little harder work. Sometimes I go nuts. All my ancestors shared the same names, generation after generation. Keeping them all straight is challenging. I have to go by birth dates and much of those are approximate. I’m amazed at how little attention to detail was given to the old church records.

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  6. Isn’t it wonderful that you’ve found out as much as you have about your ancestors? Some people go down the genealogy rabbit hole and come up empty-handed. Not you. Always fun to read about what you’ve discovered.

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  7. I admire your continued efforts on the quest.for you ancestors. I keep wanting to this and just can’t seem to get in to it. However, your need for chocolates…Yesterday, I found myself wanting chocolate so badly, that I went to Josh Early. The saleslady was wonderful (as they always are in there), but I think I might have frightened her when I said something like, I must have chocolate or I might have to hurt someone!!!!!! After all I WAS wearing a mask…Ha! I got my chocolate and peace reigned again. She was a delight and we both seemed to enjoy the brief encounter in the store. Our “visit” ended with us both lamenting about the virus….

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  8. I had a second cousin contact me recently for stories about her great-grandmother. I was like, “No one told you about the town belle who could shoot the head off a snake? Kick back, cousin. Do I have stories for you!”

    Of course, unless you sanitize those stories, there’s also slavery and Jim Crow and a whole lot of other ugly.

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    • My maternal grandmother has some iffy characters in her family. Yikes! Some very sad stories there. I find it interesting how some family members do well and some don’t. My brother calls one side of the family the poor side although everyone was poor. He has stories from when he was young way before I was born. Had we been all born in the west, I’m sure there would have been cattle rustlers there.

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  9. SO fascinating – I know it’s a lot of work doing family research but can also be so rewarding. I have one friend who knows a great deal about her family history – she’s lived in one town all her life so lots of people share knowledge of her family with her. I moved every two years my entire life until my Dad retired from the military and neither of my parents would even TALK about their families…..now that’s a MYSTERY if ever there was one! Good luck with your continued ancestry project……….

    Hugs, Pam (who has more than one box of chocolates)

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