Friday, August 3, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Cousins, Cousins, Cousins!

Climbing my family tree has brought me cousin connections I truly treasure. In chronological order of these cousin discoveries:

I identified and located my mother's 1st cousin Harriet in 2007, having seen only a baby photo of her and knowing that she was somehow related to my maternal grandfather. Luckily, her maiden name was uncommon enough that it popped up in my Census searches! Harriet is the last of the cousins of that generation and we've had several wonderful visits, including the one shown here (2008).

Next, I found my husband's 2d cousin Larry via his posts on surname message boards. Larry had been searching for info about my husband's grandfather for years, and once I stumbled on his messages, I answered. Alas, he'd changed his e-mail and moved since posting!

After a few weeks of trying snail mail and such, I posted my own message in the forum where he'd been most active. He responded the same day, and we began a partnership in research that illuminated several limbs of the shared family tree. He'd done 30 years of research into the Wood line, which he shared! Larry and his lovely wife visited in 2009.

That same year, I attended a talk by Dan Lynch, author of Google Your Family Tree, and tried one of his techniques (try "last name, first" and "first + last" in the "News" search). Instantly, a casual comment on a blog showed up in the results, a comment written by my 1st cousin Ira. I e-mailed him, and within hours, he wrote back. Here I am with my sis, reunited with Ira decades after we'd last been in contact--even though he lived only 70 miles away. If we'd only known!

One day in 2010, I blogged about trying to find descendants of my great-uncle Louis, at whose home my paternal grandfather died.

Six weeks later, I received an e-mail titled, "Another cousin has surfaced." Louis's lovely granddaughter Lois had found me while doing online searches to help her daughter with a genealogy project for school! This photo shows Lois and hubby Mark with my sis and me at a family wedding in 2011.

Lois is very close to Lil, another cousin on my father's side (see photo at left). I never knew a thing about her branch of the family tree and it's been a delight getting to know her.

After attending a talk by Toni McKeen, I followed her expert advice about tracing the spouses of my ancestors' siblings with the goal of uncovering promising leads to pursue. I searched for Anna, who married my great-uncle Sam, and through surname message boards, I found Art, who was looking for a family with Anna's last name. I posted a note for Art and he wrote back. He's related to Anna's family and we consider ourselves "honorary cousins" and partners in genealogy research. Together, we've tracked down more info about Anna's family and had a jolly good time doing it.

But wait, that's not the end of my cousin connections. I was lucky enough to find two 2d cousins on my mother's side because of my research into Anna's past. And I've located a number of 2d cousins from my father's side, who I've enjoyed getting to know via e-mail and Facebook. Are there more cousins in my future? I'm sure there will be! Especially since I've tagged this post with some of the surnames I'm researching :)

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