|Partial Clip from U.S., Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914, Thomas Thompson, digital image; Ancesry.com: accessed 17 July 2021, image 402 of 440; citing NARA M233.|
One of the things I love about genealogy is the weird occurrences that happen. I had planned to write about a local mystery but two strange events happened to me this week that I think you’ll find interesting.
Last week, I blogged about The Forgotten Ones project for the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War. While researching Thomas Charles Thompson I came across a document that may or may not be his father, Thomas Coke Thompson.
These folks are my husband’s relatives and whenever I work on that line strange things happen. The pattern continues…
The document I found is shown above. Thomas Coke was known to be in the Albany, New York area at the time the document was made. He married first, Elizabeth and had several children. Only Thomas Charles lived to adulthood but died before Thomas Coke. Census and death records state that Thomas Coke was born in New York City but I’ve never found a record for him or his parents. The document above caught my eye because the same location, name used in other records (he never used Coke) and age. What stood out to me was that he was a musician born in Great Britain. The Thomas Coke in our family tree was a ship’s carpenter when he moved to Chicago.
I forwarded the document to my husband’s cousins who I have met over the years through online research. One stated she wasn’t interested. Another thanked me immensely. The third replied that she wished her mom was alive to see and ponder it – her mom’s birthday would be 2 days after I made the find. I replied to the 3rd cousin that I had thought of her mom the prior week when I wrote to a colleague who wanted information for an upcoming book he was writing on cemetery re-internments. In reviewing my notes I found an email from a cemetery that mentioned the 3rd cousin’s mother who had written to correct a mistake in the cemetery record.
A few days after I emailed the 3rd cousin, she replied she wasn’t feeling that the document was for Thomas Coke. After all, Thomas Thompson is a common name. Although that is true, in the Albany 1830 US Federal census there are only 5 Thomas Thompsons in that area; 3 are Black, 1 is old and 1 is of the age of the man who enlisted. What doesn’t fit is the name of the next of kin on the form (clip above not showing it). No record of this individual anywhere and none of the cousins have heard of her. Certainly more research is needed but for now it’s on hold until I’m able to revisit NARA next spring.
The 3rd cousin decided to look through her records and found several photos from the 1860’s that she didn’t recall sharing with me. One was of Elizabeth Williams, sister of Drusilla who had married 2nd Thomas Coke.
At the same time 3rd cousin was emailing me the picture, I received another email that I had a message on MyHeritage. I assumed it was a response for WW2 pictures as I had contacted a number of tree owners looking for photos for the Fields of Honors project in the Netherlands.
I don’t know why but something told me to respond to the 3rd cousin after reviewing all my emails. I logged onto MyHeritage and was astounded to discover a message from a 3 times great granddaughter of Elizabeth Williams. She was thanking me for putting info on the tree.
Before answering, I decided to check my personal email to read the 3rd cousins’ information. That’s when I discovered the picture of Elizabeth. I emailed both of my husband’s cousins to connect them and uploaded the picture to Ancestry, which is where my Main Tree is located. That’s the tree I keep updated.
So, if that wasn’t enough of the eebee jeebees for you, two days later the following happened…
Summer is my family’s lean time as we don’t receive a paycheck. Unfortunately for us, we’ve had some major expenses. We had budgeted for the ones we knew about (replacing a deck, renovating the side yard) but not for others (reconstructing a coop, a plumbing issue we didn’t even know was a problem). After shelling out a couple of hundred dollars to a pest control company to get rid of the varmints that had eaten the deck and coop and infested an appliance, a remembrance of my grandmother, Mary Koss, came to me.
When I was dating my husband in high school I was adamant I was never going to get married. I had never seen a happy couple. I’m serious – most of my older relatives were divorced or in miserable marriages. One day after my then boyfriend left, my grandmother said to me, “You’d be a fool not to marry him. You’ll never find anyone better.” I know I though she was nuts at the time but you didn’t argue with Grandma so I didn’t respond. She has proven to be right.
Grandma loved to be right and was not shy about making sure everyone knew she had predicted what was going to occur. My thoughts of that day came about because my dear husband never ever has complained to me about spending money, even when it’s tight.
This jogged my brain into calling our power company as I wanted to change our automatic payment method. I tried to do this online but I was directed to call the company. While waiting for a human, I decided to clean out my emails and I saw that Ancestry had sent me one with their latest record updates. It happened to be for Ellis Island/Castle Gardens.
Since I had thought about my grandmother I decided to enter in her information which I’ve seen before. I just wanted to check if there was something new. Coincidentally, the date my grandmother had arrived on Ellis Island just happened to be the day I was checking the record.
OHHH – weird – her birthday was coming up in 2 days and I hadn’t noticed before that she had made herself older on the form – claimed to be a teenager of 13 when she was still 12 for two more days. That made me laugh.
But the weirdness doesn’t end there…The customer service rep came on the line and asked my name. When I told her she responded by spelling my first name correctly. No one does that as there is several ways to spell Lori. I didn’t think much of that but as we got into the call she had to speak to my husband as she couldn’t find that I had access to the account. This always annoys me but I put my husband on who told her he has given my information on several occasions and to please correct it for the future. The customer service rep said, “There is someone else on the account, do you know who that could be?” My husband asked me and then it hit me – it was probably my birth certificate name that I never use. I gave the woman that name and she said, “Yes, that’s it. I didn’t think you were the same person as my mother is named (with your birth certificate name) and my aunt with the name you go by.” So, this explained how she could spell Lori correctly. I told her that I always asked my mom why they named me as they had when they called me something else. My mom’s reply was that she didn’t know, I was supposed to be named Patty Ann after her friend but when she looked at me after my birth the other name just popped into her head. She never met anyone with my birth certificate name and can’t explain why she thought of it.
After years of doing genealogy, I was shocked to learn that my father’s family was from a European province that is the same as my real name. I doubted my mom would know that as she had always told me my father was Germany, English, Scotts-Irish and Welsh. The province is not located in any of those areas. I know he never knew of the province as he always told me his ancestry was German and British.
I thought maybe my mom had heard the name and it was somewhere in her head where the euphoria of childbirth brought it forth. Now, because of what next occurred, I’m thinking that is a real possibility.
After using the Ancestry.com search for my grandmother, grandfather, great grandmother and great uncle I decided to try to find my great grandfather who had emigrated before his wife and two children. I had a little trouble in that I was entering Croatia as his birth place. I should have left that blank. It finally dawned on me he would have said Austria as that was the country at the time. My grandmother, a vocal almost teen ager and being for Croatia separation from Austria-Hungary, had stated she was from Croatia so I just didn’t think initially to change it. It made sense he would have provided different information as he had been in the Austrian Calvary. (HINT TO SELF-When searching, try to think like the individual that provided the record information and not what you know of the individual). His information tells me he didn’t think of himself as Croatian first; he had allegiance to the governing country probably due to his military service..
When I found my great grandfather Josip Kos’ record I was astounded to see that the ship he sailed to America on was my birth certificate name. Wow!
I had seen the document before but it never clicked. My great grandfather died during the previous pandemic and I had just thought about him when I got my pneumonia vaccine last week. He got the flu but died of pneumonia. Although my mom was a baby when he died, perhaps she had heard this ship’s name and recalled it for who knows what reason when I was born.
Or, just maybe, he whispered it into her ear and she wrote it on my birth certificate.
Who knows?! All I can tell you for sure is that I just really enjoy these creepy coincidences. Christmas in July? Nope, with my family I’ve got Halloween early!