Fall is just around the corner and I’ll be posting my October blogs about the weird, unexplainable happenings that occurred while I researched over the past year soon. I typically write them down as they happen and save them to present in October. I’ve got my four done so what happened to me this week is too good to wait for a whole ‘nother year so here goes. . .
On Thursday I attended a local genealogy club event at a library. We were supposed to be researching early residents of the town for a timeline poster the library was making. This was a continuation of what we had begun the previous month.
It was pouring and cold. Yes, I know most places are under a heat dome but we were not. It was in the 60s and I don’t do cold. I considered not going but I had promised to be there so I donned my raincoat and drove off through flooded streets.
Luckily, there were two parking spaces available close to the library door. I took one and a male patron took the other. I sat for a moment debating if I should just pull my hood up or wrestle with the umbrella. It was lightning so I opted to just make a run for it as it wasn’t more than a few steps. The man chose the umbrella and was struggling to get it open without getting soaked.
I stood in the vestibule shaking off my raincoat when he approached but he was carrying items in one hand and the umbrella was in the other so he couldn’t open the door. I noticed and held it open. After some pleasantries, we went on our separate ways.
I happened to be the first to arrive so I was talking with one of the librarians about the project. She said if anyone came who needed genealogical help we’d do that first. I love helping people with their brick walls so this sounded great to me!
Moments later a woman came in with a question; how accurate are death records? She had found some inconsistencies. We talked about, how family members are often distraught by the loss of a loved one, and provide incorrect or incomplete records. I gave an example of my Maria Duer Kuhn who was born in Ohio but her son had stated she was born in Germany on her death certificate. Nope, that would be his dad. Dad had been active in the immigrant community so Maria had an obituary in both the English and local German newspapers. Her son was just confused at the time of her death.
Next, the umbrella man arrived; those papers he had been carrying were death certificates for two of his Hull ancestors and he was stymied by the oldest which stated that the deceased had been born in Virginia. He could find no records in Virginia for this man.
I pointed out that the northwest territory had once been assigned to Virginia and that at the time of the man’s birth, the late 1700s, it was possible that the named location was somewhere else but under that jurisdiction. Seriously, once upon a time, in what is now Indiana, deeds were to be presented to Williamsburg, Virginia. Crazy, huh?!
I asked him if he had looked at online family trees for clues, warning him about unsourced or poorly sourced trees. He hadn’t. I brought up Ancestry but my personal version since the library edition that is available doesn’t give patrons the option to search public member trees.
I knew I had a few Hulls in my tree as my Revolutionary War patriot, John Duer’s sister married a Hull. I figured a lot of people would have the Hulls in their tree as it sounds to me like a common name.
Imagine my surprise when I looked at public trees and discovered my tree contained the information he needed.
Umm, yes, we were distant cousins. I then brought up FamilySearch.org so he could see the will which named parents and siblings. I’ve complained about that will for YEARS as my John’s will omit his deceased children and I wished that he had done the same as his brother-in-law – named everyone.
I then showed him I’d taken the Duers back to Merry Ole England and that he was eligible for several lineage societies. He had no idea and needed time to process this. Nothing like showing up in a downpour with two documents and leaving in the sunshine with hundreds more already nicely packaged for you.
But that’s not all. I decided to stop at another library on my way home to look at a book that the deceased author’s daughter had emailed me about that might be of help for a cemetery project I’m working on with a local high school. I went directly to the librarian and told him I didn’t have the name of the book but knew the author and publisher’s date. He found it for me in seconds. Yes, it had EXACTLY what I was looking for. Pleased, I put the book on the cart to be refiled. Then I stopped at the cemetery but no one was in the office. Sigh.
I didn’t check my email until I got home but I could hear it pinging. Sure enough, an email, related to what I had just accomplished.
It was sent by the author’s daughter while I was in the library. She had pulled out the copy she owned and sent me a list of former residents I could use in the cemetery tour. While reading the email I got a call from a friend and fellow member of our local genealogy society. A few minutes after I left the library she had arrived with the intent on looking at the same book as she had read in the newspaper that a barn was being moved from a neighboring county to our county to use for horses during the fair. The barn was coming from one of her great uncle’s farms. That family had lived in our county but relocated to a neighboring county in the 1800s. She remembered while reading the article she had intended to confirm a burial date on the now unreadable stone for this several times great aunt buried in our county.
When she arrived at the library she couldn’t find the book on the shelf so she went to the librarian and he told her Lori Samuelson had just used it. They went to the cart and there it was, right where I left it to be reshelved. See, they know me well in this library and I always return the items to the cart for reshelving as that is their policy.
Moral of the story – genealogical connections are integral and coincidences are icing on the cake. Were my Duer ancestors and the local deceased author giving us a nudge? Possibly though I can’t prove that. Sometimes we just need to appreciate the findings, however, they occurred.