I always wanted to be a detective. Like practically every other young girl my age, I had a steady diet of Nancy Drew books. But I was convinced I was Nancy Drew. It wasn’t that difficult to pretend I was a detective growing up like an only child in my Dad’s old hotel. There were definitely plenty of nooks and crannies to explore and look for clues. Then when I was older, I worked with the local police department. I loved it. I was a fully sworn police officer for a year. I should have stayed with it and I might have actually become a detective. But I passed up the opportunity and opportunity never reared its head again in that regard.
But I have always loved following clues and solving puzzles. So, guess what works in its own way. Genealogy! Those who are into genealogy know exactly what I mean. After all, how much harder can it be than trying to solve old cold cases! And sometimes I really get lucky and find living relatives. That’s just what happened recently.
A little background for you, dear reader. My mother comes from a family of ten children. Some stories I’ve heard would seem to indicate that they were a close-knit family. Other clues point in different directions. It seems to me that her siblings all pretty much went in different directions and didn’t appear to have much contact.
Out of nine aunts and uncles I have eleven cousins. Over the years I have managed to re-establish email contact with four of them but we have yet to see one another since the 70’s. But at least I knew them growing up even if we weren’t together as much as I would have liked.
Mother’s youngest brother had two daughters, Linda and Susan. Susan is my age and Linda is a few years older. I never met these cousins. They are not included in the four referred to above. I know my mother cared for her younger brother because of things I heard her say but no one in her family ever seemed to want to go out of their way to get together. As a child it didn’t bother me because I didn’t know any better. Now, it bothers me. I’ve thought about my missing cousins off and on over time. Working on my genealogy has really brought it to my attention. So why couldn’t I try to find them? The initial bump in the road, after 60+ years, how on earth could I find out their married names? Assuming, that is, they did marry. I set the thought aside for the time being but it never really went away.
Recently I began sorting through old papers and documents that I had accumulated years ago when I first began researching my genealogy. My, my! What’s this? Look! It’s an obituary for my uncle. And, what’s this? Gasp! Right there in black and white are his daughters’ married names. Oh, but there’s no location given. Who knows where on earth they might be living now? Who could I ask? All my aunts and uncles are deceased. I asked the cousins I had contact with for any clues. They knew nothing. This can’t be.
To myself: “Think, Linda, think. When you first started your genealogy everything was done either first-hand or through the mail. Then in the late 90’s you were able to glean information from some of the genealogy websites and forums. Now? Well, it seems that now the sky is the limit.” My goodness, is there nothing that can’t be found on the Internet? I think not. And what does the Internet have now that it didn’t have then? For one thing, FACEBOOK! Aaack!
Facebook? Seriously? Well, what have I got to lose? It’s true I’m not a big fan of Facebook although I do have a page. And, yes, I will occasionally go on there to see what other family and friends who actually use it are up to. Well? Who is to say my cousins aren’t on there. Just go look. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, etc. etc., and all those other clichés. It just might work.
Hmmm, but look at all the hits for both Susan and Linda. So what? Check them out. See if you can find any connections. Oh, look, I can access their “Friends” list. Oh, oh, oh. Look, Susan has a connection with a matching Linda. Fever pitch. Is it possible it’s going to be that easy? Okay, I’ve got what appears to be matching names. Oh, this can’t be right. This has both individuals living in Florida. Gasp. They both show connections to Virginia. Aha! Another clue. Phone number, phone number, I need at least one phone number. Gotcha!
Dialing…. “Hello? Is this Susan Hatcher, daughter of Raymond Hatcher? IT IS?? Omigosh, this is your cousin….”
Susan and I talked for at least half an hour, which was quite a while for her since she was under the weather. She gave me Linda’s telephone number and I contacted her. Linda and I talked for almost an hour.
It truly is a small world. Linda and Sue live less than two hours from me. Once Sue was well, we planned a meet and greet. Last week we met for the very first time. We spent nearly four hours just talking and sharing genealogy and trying to catch up. I’m surprised the restaurant didn’t throw us out but I’m glad they didn’t!
This has been an exciting event for me. I have two new best friends! We’re going to be getting together at least monthly. The suggestion has already been made to try and put together a family reunion. Pessimist that I am when it comes to extended family, I don’t really see that coming to fruition. But I won’t completely rule anything out.
So, in conclusion, I wish all other amateur genealogists out there the best of luck. And don’t give up! Keep following clues and when the trail runs cold, take a break and pick it up again later. I’m certainly glad I did!