Sunday, May 29, 2016

I brought hidden emails to light, a light that shines on new connections

I spent considerable time the past two days "resurrecting" emails that I've saved since 2009, which had all been labeled "Genea-Diary" in my Gmail program. I'd accumulated 237 emails on the topic of family history and filed them in folders according to surname. The information they contained had long since been added to my genealogy database, but I kept the actual emails to help keep track of "who" I got "what" information from. In most cases I hadn't taken time yet to add those details to my database, or some other record-keeping system. 

Since my friend and fellow genealogist Lisa Alzo introduced me to Trello, a handy web-based organizational tool, I've had fun organizing some of my family history documents, photos, families, etc. I've written blog posts about that here and here.

I've either become a "Trello Addict", as my cousin says, or a "Trello Monster", as Lisa says, because when I start my day, I find myself thinking of more ways to use the Trello board organizing system in my genealogy. Friday morning I thought of retrieving my large volume of saved emails and putting them on a Trello board where I can easily see what I have, and with two clicks, be able to read the messages. It took me two full days, but I got the job done! You can see a screenshot of the resulting "Genea-Diary" board at the top of this post.  

The final bunch of emails that I added to the board last night were from a gentleman named Jay Barney, in Oct. 2014, in response to a blog post I'd written. I wrote a series of blog posts on 'Grace and Glory Plus' on my website that featured my house history and the residents who lived in my house 1910-1940. 
In 1920 the James Norton Seip family lived in my house. Here's the story I wrote about that family. 
Since I posted the story on my website, I got an email when Jay Barney posted his comment to my story. I'm sharing that here.
My story was seen by Jay, the great grandson of James N. Seip, and by his cousin Doug Seip. The story also facilitated a connection between Jay and Doug, as you can read in the comments. So let me add that it's good to get the word out through blog posts, as they truly do bring families together!

Last night, as I was finishing my 2-day project of moving saved emails to my Trello board from the "hidden depths" of archived emails, I showed my husband all the emails I'd received from Jay Barney and the related story on my blog about the Seip family residing in our house nearly 100 years ago. I noticed again that Jay had commented that his great grandfather had served in the Civil War. Larry asked me to show that to our son Matt Jamison because he's a Civil War re-enactor. So we went to bed thinking of James and his Civil War service. 

Here's where the story gets interesting. 

This morning we drove through the cemetery on our way home from church. We drive right past it, so often take a quick detour as we're coming home. As Larry was meandering around the narrow roads, I noticed a headstone for a "Hardin" family. My step-mother's grandmother was a Hardin, so I asked Larry to stop and let me make a note of the details on that headstone. It's happened more than once that I've discovered a relative's burial here in Lakeside Cemetery that way. I got out of Larry's parked pickup and walked west to view the Hardin headstone. I noticed, however, that no death dates were entered on the stone. Nothing for me to look up online. As I was walking back to the pickup, I proceeded to walk a little to the east, as there were military headstones decorated with flags for Memorial Day and it looked beautiful. I looked at the name on the first headstone near me and was stunned to see "Jas. N. Seip". I yelled, literally yelled to Larry that the stone belonged to James Norton Seip, whom we had just read about again last night while I was working on my Trello board! I took this picture of Larry standing by James's headstone so you can see how close it was to Larry's truck. 
Larry Jamison stands at the grave of James N. Seip
James N. Seip 4 Dec 1847-29 Oct 1928
Of course I had to get in the picture too!
I'm not able to visit the graves of my parents on Memorial Day since they're buried in Kansas, but I feel like I've been privileged to visit the grave of Civil War veteran James Seip on this Memorial Day weekend. It was noted in his obituary that he was known as "Dad" to this community of Canon City, CO. So I did get to visit "Dad" today! And I really feel like he came to us today. Maybe he came to us yesterday and led us back to him today. 

As I read the story of James on his Find-A-Grave memorial I learned that he "was credited with a larger personal acquaintanceship than the mayor." Perhaps he can add Larry & I now to his list of acquaintanceships! 

But wait, the story gets more interesting!

After we got home from church and our little tour through Lakeside Cemetery, I opened my email. I only had this ONE message since yesterday. 

   Recently the Famly Tree at FamilySearch has enabled their message program like the one that's been available on for several years. I've sent 2 messages via this system, but haven't received answers. So this was my FIRST message from another Family Tree user. It's from "Jennie" asking me for more information about John Nolon and his wife Margaret Robison. You might ask "what's spectacular about that message"? Well, it happens that Margaret Robison was born in 1907, when her parents were the residents of my house. In fact, the house I'm living in is known as "The Wedding House" as it was built as a wedding present for David and Goldie Robison in 1902 by his father Lyman Robison. Margaret is their daughter! And I wrote about them in this blog post when I was writing about our house history.
Margaret Robison is pictured at far left. 
I think I stirred something up when I resurrected some emails yesterday. Letters that had been tucked away and saved, out of sight and mind. When I brought them into the light, I must have awakened the subjects of some of those letters. Besides the letters from Jay Barney about the Seip family and subsequent discovery today of James's grave, I read emails that I'd exchanged with a Patrick Bauer of Florida about a Goodloe family who were early residents of Canon City. My correspondence with him was the result of my discovery of this photo at my office in the local Episcopal Church. 
This photo features Harriette Goodloe with Lyman Morey Robison at her right (second from left in the photo). Lyman is the brother of Margaret Robison, the subject of the inquiry I received today from "Jennie" from Family Tree! So Lyman was a resident of my house at the start of his life.

One more interesting detail: James Seip's wife was named Jennie. My inquiry today from Family Tree about Margaret Robison was from her granddaughter "Jennie". 

By resurrecting the saved emails about the Seip, Goodloe and Robison families, I opened the door to fresh connections the very next day to those families. That's more than coincidence. It's miraculous!


Michelle Ganus Taggart said...

Wow! What a wonderful post! First, there seems to be no end to the possibilities on Trello. I'm behind you quite a few steps on using it, but you certainly got me started and I do love it! I am slow to like new programs, but you really helped me to see the possibilities and to learn how to use it. Thank you!

And secondly, what a great find at the cemetery! So exciting! You have some great pictures of him and being able to visit his burial place was icing on the cake.

Gini said...

Truly miraculous! A wonderful post, Becky . . . I have many emails that I have saved also, maybe I need to bring those out into the light too and give Trello a try!

Les said...

Another great post! It's strange how sometimes the stone appears right in front of you. I have to find the message app on FS, it's one of my frustrations not to be able to contact possible relatives.