Over the years, I’ve done some genealogical research, and managed to find out quite a lot about the family history. The internet has really revolutionized the study of family history, not because all the documents are now posted online (as some expected would happen) but because it is now so much easier to get in touch with the person who happens to have the document.
So this morning, when I discovered that I had a couple of emails from people who might well be cousins, I was happy to pull out my files and send them some data from old documents of which I have copies.
A good outcome will be their finding that data useful. A really good outcome will be their writing back with some other information that I don’t already have.
As I was looking through my records, some of which are in an album I made, I thought that you might enjoy seeing some of my ancestors. I am of course forbidden to show faces in my pictures here at xanga, for fear that my kids’ friends would see them and have their identities exposed, but these people have been dead and gone for so long that it surely won’t matter.
As it happens, the emails were not about either of these groups of people. I know all about these people.
The emails were about my mysterious Midwesterners.
First, I have a French-Canadian shoemaker who came to the United States in 1880. I have his census records, business information, paragraphs about him in a book, all kinds of stuff from 1900 to 1920. I also have a census record for a French-Canadian shoemaker of his age and very nearly the same name (close enough that it could have been one of those immigrant spelling changes) who had just arrived in Chicago in 1880. I have what might well have been his marriage license — but it could also have been some other fellow of the same name who married a woman with the same first name, in Chicago.
The email this morning was about an 1878 marriage in Quebec, between two people who may or may not be my great-great grandparents. I have no more reason, at this point, to think that the Canadian couple are the ones in question than to think that the Chicago couple are. I would like to know.
I would also like to know what happened to the family after 1920. There they are in the city directory, parents and children in several households, still making shoes, right up till that time, and then they simply disappeared. A family with 13 children ought to have left descendants littering the countryside. Someone ought to know whether they went back to Canada or were all wiped out by cholera or something. The trouble is, we are not interested in these things when we are young enough to be able to find living people who know the answers. They probably tell us stuff, and we don’t listen. Then, when we want to know, they have all died and no one knows the answers any more.
The other email was about a Civil War soldier born in 1820. I know about his wife and children and his military service, and I have a probable but unproven father for him, a Swiss immigrant to Ohio. The email regarding this family contained no information, but was tantalizing. The writer said that he had been studying the family for 20 years and would be glad to swap data. So I sent him what I knew, and we will see what happens next.
Today I will be cleaning and shopping and cooking. I also plan to loll about. I would like to say that I will be sewing, but I think that might interfere with the cleaning and cooking to a greater extent than lolling about. Knitting, though, that will fit in. And napping.That’s the plan.