One of the greatest benefits of researching your family is being able to hook up with living relatives. Case in point is my DH's family. He is an only child, whose mother was born in Massachusetts and father in Buffalo. Its kind of amazing that they would hook up in Detroit. My father-in-law is the only surviving sibling in a family of two sons and a daughter. Both his brother and sister died in the early 1970's at the age of 54 and 53 respectively, which is quite young. And here is my father-in-law hanging on at the age of 91.
Years ago, when I sat down and recorded my parents' histories, I wanted to do the same with my in-laws, but they refused to be taped. Instead, I sat down with each of them and went through photos they both had, asking questions. One family grouping, I asked who the tall man and pretty woman were. FIL said that was his aunt Sophie and Uncle Fred. Further questioning gave me the last name and the fact that Fred was really Ferdinand and that Sophie and Fred had two sons, Carl and David.
This was before I had access to Ancestry, and a time when you could buy discs that were contained the phone directories for virtually every big city in the United States. Because the last name was unusual, I was able to send off a couple of letters to a Carl and David in the Buffalo, New York area. One letter came back with a note saying sorry, but not their family. The other letter I received was from David, and he said yes, he was the son of Sophie & Fred, I could call him at his home, number included, and did I know who the people in the pictures were? Sure enough, the picture was of my DH's grandparents, aunt, uncle and father! It was a heart stopping moment. DH's last name was on the back of the photo but Dave said he had no idea who that family was.
In our phone conversation, he informed me that his brother, Carl had passed, and that Carl had been the family historian. DH and I arranged a trip to Buffalo to meet the family, and have enjoyed a great relationship with his first cousin, once removed ever since. Actually, we have enjoyed a brief visit with him when he stopped here for a couple nights on his trip to Panama City Florida and look forward to his visit on his return trip.
It was some of the best research I ever did!
Copyright 2010, ACK for Gene Notes