If you make New Year’s resolutions, then by now, you have either made them a part of your life, or you have given up on them and forgotten them entirely. If you have goals for the year, then you are about one third of the way through the year and it is a good time to review those goals.
I’ve accomplished #6 and #10, have kept up with ongoing goals 1, 2, and 3, and am making good progress on 7 and 8. Doing fairly well on #9, too. However, #5 was to return to my family history study. Knowing that, for me, scheduling makes it likelier that a thing will actually take place, I planned to work on this project on Tuesday mornings. But somehow Tuesdays got busy and I have done nothing on this project for some time.
This week, however, I had several reminders. First, Lionne pointed out this remarkable site in her xanga. At this site, you can search for people, and find their addresses and phone numbers. Lionne was pointing it out as a danger to privacy, and I see her point, but it also came in handy for us. #1 daughter was trying to find her cousins who live near her in the Frozen North. These are the kids of my husband’s sister, and we had rather lost track of them. Since my sister-in-law does not speak English, #1 daughter couldn’t just call her and say she wanted to meet her cousins. So it was handy to have their information all pop up in one place. (If you want to try this yourself, be advised that you can only see the addresses once for free; on a second visit, you have to pay.)
It only worked for us because, at this point in my husband’s family history, it is literally true that everyone with his last name is related. The only people in the U.S. with his name are himself, his siblings, and their children and grandchildren. He is an actual case of what genealogists know as the “Three Brothers” fallacy. That is, that there were three brothers named X who came to America, and all people named X are descended from one of these three brothers.
The second reminder of the Three Brothers came last night when Dr. Drew was trying, during a game, to get #2 daughter to think of Daniel Boone. His clues were all good, except that he kept reiterating that the person he was thinking of was imaginary. Boone was a real person, a kinsman of ours, and one of the favorite Three Brothers cases. That is, people named Boone all over the country look at Daniel and his brothers and try to figure out which of the Boones they are descended from.
The trouble is, while the sons of George Boone might have been the only Boones in their neck of the woods when they first arrived — just like my husband and his siblings — since then, there have been numerous unrelated Boones arriving from elsewhere. Most American Boones are not related to Daniel at all.
And so comes the third family history reminder. When it seems impossible to find the parents of some particular person on your family tree, that person is known as “a brick wall.” One of my brick walls is a guy named William Lewis. I have no hesitation in telling you his name, because there were and are so many people named William Lewis that he is no threat to my anonymity. My particular William Lewis popped up in Ohio in the 1800s with a son, married, and moved to Missouri. A kind person with an Ohio William Lewis on his own tree has emailed me, offering me his William. So I need to do some detective work to try to determine whether this William could indeed be “my” William.
This is what is fun for me about genealogy. It is fun to track down information, and when it is information about your own family, you do not have to feel that you are being nosy. My mother tried to track down her Lewis forebears by the Three Brothers method, without success. I have searched through land and marriage and birth and death records without success. But the kindness of strangers can often be the deciding factor in genealogy. So perhaps today I will be able to climb over the brick wall, or at least peer over it.
In knitting news, I was debating which of my WIPs to return to, with the T-shirt finished. Hopkins needs a sleeve, and the bath ensemble is also only partly completed. But then the divine Mrs. M came to the store yesterday with yarn and pattern for my contribution to the Prayer Shawl ministry. Have I ever been snide about giant-gauge rectangles made of novelty yarn? Well, that is what is called for for the prayer shawls. There is a special, symbolic stitch pattern, but it will not be visible, because the shawl is blue Homespun. Yes, variegated novelty yarn. But I do not intend to be snide about the shawl. I intend to be prayerful. I know that the recipients of these shawls are grateful and find them comforting. This may be a message to me to watch out or I will find myself turning into a yarn snob.