Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Work in Progress

Years ago, when I first got connected to the internet, I began the exchange of information with other researchers following the James Percival line of Sandwich and Falmouth, Barnstable county, Massachusetts - Cape Cod.

One of the people that I corresponded with was Frank B. This man did a wonderful job on transcribing, editing and footnoting the diary of his ancestor, Benjamin Percival. I ended up purchasing the book in hard cover because I knew I would cherish it. Frank also put me in touch with the town historian of Sandwich, who took time time to drive us around Sandwich taking us to several cemeteries, and down the narrow private track to the house that Benjamin Percival moved from Falmouth to Sandwich and rebuilt on Hog Pond. I had never heard of anyone dismantling and rebuilding a house in 1782 before. I can't even imagine the difficulties. To this day, I can't think about Cape Cod without remembering that first wonderful trip and the kindness of a stranger.

Soon my sharing experiences began to expand to other branches of my family.
I can't mention sharing without thinking of my cousin, Mary Anne. Mary Anne and her husband Paul, were posted to Edinburgh, Scotland for a few years. I have never actually met Mary Anne, but she called me, I think on the recommendation of her aunt Helen, who was my dad's first cousin. Mary Anne went to the Public Records Office in Edinburgh and pulled records for me on a branch of the Maitland family I was working on. If someone offers, take them up on it!

I can't mention Mary Anne without mentioning her sister Martha. I've actually met Martha and was able to share some family history with her and she kindly let me borrow photos to take home and scan. And her husband, Greg, entertained the rest of the family with a nature hike while we did the family history thing.

Also high on my list of wonderful share experiences is the late Mary Oliphant Schwensen. She sent home a box of photos with my dad when he and mom visited with her and I gladly copied them and returned them. Finding her once we got to Richmond, Missouri was quite an adventure. She was hospitalized with a bad back a day or so before our visit. Fortunately, a neighbor called her daughter and her daughter sent us to the hospital for a visit as Mary would be upset to miss us.

Another person who was kind enough to share information on his Percival line was Randall H. We shared information on the early Percival lines, which I appreciate very much. I have to confess, I finally pulled the descendant report he emailed me back in 1996 out and am working on what he sent. See yesterday's post! I've finally progressed beyond page 8!

Claude T. of Lexington, Kentucky shared a photo of our mutual ancestor Dr. Joseph Graves Chinn. Actually it was a photo of a portrait of Dr. Chinn. Dr. Chinn was my great-great-great grandfather. This really has meant a lot to me, since it seems that on both sides of my family, we were the last to get any memorabilia.

Julia D. was kind enough to share family information, and photographs of her side of the Percival family. Her great-great grandfather and my great-great grandfather were brothers. There is a complicated family relationship between her side and my side, and it was fun to straighten out. We had a great time passing information back and forth.

I, in turn was more than willing to share whatever I found with others. In those early, non internet-savvy days, however, I was not as careful with sharing my information and was horrified to find someone had posted some of my work on the internet which included living people. Since then, I have tried to make clear that I don't expect to find my work on the internet and I certainly don't share information on living people anymore.

There are many more people who have shared with me and I with them.  Without this sharing, family history would be so boring.  I am sure I have not thanked these people enough, but they are remembered and appreciated every time I work on one of my lines.

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