Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Most Rewarding Genealogy Moment

As I was pondering the topic for this post, a suggestion was given to me by one of my many Facebook Genea-blogger friends, Tina, to write about my most rewarding genealogy moment. I replied to Tina that I'd have to do a series, because my genealogy blessings have been numerous. In fact, I created this blog to record those experiences of outstanding discovery--not always monumental in substance, but collosal in spirit! So this may be the first in a series of recollections of my many rewarding genealogy moments--those events that just boggle the mind, keep us interested, and make us grateful for the help, support, kindness and generosity of others as we take this journey of becoming truly acquainted with our ancestors.
I began my search for ancestors in 2000 and worked feverishly for a couple of years on my own, with much encouragement and guidance from my husband. I grew up a very shy individual and was not comfortable reaching out to others for help or advice. Oh I sought the advice of authors in the field---I bought a lot of books on genealogy and internet research. I scoured them cover to cover. And I questioned relatives who were close by and wrote letters seeking more information from my immediate family.

Online I discovered that a couple of ladies in California had submitted quite extensive histories about my mother's side of the family. I was not raised by my mother, but by my father and step-mother. I was acquainted with my mother's parents, siblings and most of my cousins from that maternal line. I missed a lot during my childhood by not spending much time with my mother or her family. And she passed away in 1990. It was my husband who encouraged, reminded, and just plain "nagged" me into contacting those two ladies in California to inquire about their connection to "my" family. I finally gave in and wrote them each a letter--fortunately their addresses were included in that online submission. I thought, at the most, I may hear from them and determine how they were related to my Becker/Strait family. That would have been enough for me! I mailed my letters to them on a Thursday and typically mail delivery is quite slow from my place of residence, but my letters were delivered to them on Saturday! From Colorado to California in TWO days! Unheard of. Early the following Monday morning I had an email from Sharon, the daughter of one of the ladies. Without looking it up, I can recall her opening sentence. "Becky, you have struck gold!" Indeed I had. What she didn't tell me was that I found the Mother Lode! As it turns out, the two ladies (Phyllis and Barbara) that I had written were First Cousins of my mother. So they were quite familiar with her parents and siblings. The next great news that she explained to me was that they'd been researching my maternal grandmother's family for over 40 years! And what was even better !!!!!!!!! they were extremely excited to have "discovered" me and eagerly wanted to share all they could with me!
And share they did. In a matter of weeks, they blessed me with pictures, birth and death certificates, journal entries, personal letters, books, family group sheets, and stories about several generations of my maternal family members.

Milo and Nannie Becker Flanders, my maternal grandparents, below, followed by photos of parents and other family members of Nannie Becker:
"Ask and ye shall receive". I asked and all that I received truly made this my most rewarding genealogy moment! There's much more of this story that I can share, but I should do that in another post. I could call it "My Most Rewarding Genealogy Moment---at that moment".


Anonymous said...

I had chills reading your post. Great job and so exciting to see how you got your info and pictures!

I was sort of shy myself, but funny how doing genealogy brings you out of your shell by reaching out and sharing information.

Can't wait to read more!


Taylorstales-Genealogy said...

What a wonderful story! I think those of us who have been researching our family history for a while would be able to post a blog about their most rewarding genealogy moment, but wow this is spectacular! Thank you for sharing and I can't wait for part 2!

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

Like you, I am hesitant to contact others even if I know they are related. I sent out several letters over the summer that were not answered. Perhaps your success has inspired me to try again with others.