I found you………A Journey to Discovery…


 

 

Ancestry.com and I have  been acquainted since 2012, but in November of 2014 we became close friends.

I’d spend at least 15 minutes on the site at a minimum of 5 times a day just to see if there was any new information for me.

I was on a hunt and I wasn’t going to let up until I got what I was hoping to find….

Clues to our family’s heritage.

This is the second entry in the series  A Journey to Discovery

 

 

My dad  grew up as an only child not knowing his father.

My brother, sister and I had learned to accept this from a young age. We had questions but no one had answers and my dad’s mother wasn’t talking.

We’d always pondered the thought that there was a good chance that my dad had siblings. We had enough information on his father to know that he’d been married to the same woman for almost all of his life and that they very possibly had children. But up to this point, I couldn’t find one shred of evidence to prove they did.

I had key information……. my grandfather’s name, his father’s name, his brother’s name and his mother’s name as well as her maiden name. And though I seemed to have everything I needed, I was still hitting a dead end…..

This was my 2nd real attempt to research him. I’d come up empty handed before, got discouraged and gave up.

For 2 years.

 

For whatever reason, I dove in again.

 

Then it happened.

 

December 28, we were celebrating Christmas with my family and I was going onto the website to show my mom the progress I’d made on her family tree and there it was…that beautiful green leaf, waving at me. A “Hint” as they’re called….

 

The hint came in the form of a marriage certificate. Specifically, the one recording the marriage of my grandfather to the woman he’d been married to for life.

Really? Now it pops up?  

 

I’d been online for 2 years with my own account and that marriage certificate never, ever came up. Never.

 

Until Then.

 

As soon as I clicked on the leaf I squealed. My mom was right next to me and I exclaimed, “Mom! I have the marriage certificate of *Marvin and his wife,*Dorothy! Finally, we know her maiden name!”

I also now had her mother’s  first name, maiden name and father’s name as well.

 

Writing this now I’m still astounded that for what ever reason that hint didn’t come up until that day…and all the information I’d had from my intial set up of my account was exactly the same. Not one thing was different.

It was such a serendipitous thing as my parents were visiting from out of town and my mom was in on all the research.

 

A few days passed and I continued to look on Ancestry.com. I had never coughed up the membership fee to bump me up to the U.S Discovery Membership. 

It was time.

 

January 5, I paid it.

Totally worth it.

 

Now I was able to search everything. I had access to a crazy amount of information.

 

First thing I did was put in a search with my biological grandfather’s wife’s name.

Lo and behold, up pops a college yearbook with her picture in it.

I knew it was her. Don’t ask me how... but I was certain. Though her name was not uncommon for that time, something went off in me like a bell……... I knew it was her.

 

Seeing that yearbook picture gave me the strangest feeling. I felt as though I’d found a lost treasured friend. This was a woman related to me only in that she’d been married to my grandfather for his lifetime.

Zero blood ties……… but the feeling was there.

As I looked at this picture of a beautiful young woman as senior in her college yearbook I whispered, ” I found you.”

 

I don’t ever talk to myself out loud, I mean I’m a little nutty and all but I don’t talk to myself…out loud anyway. Goodness knows why I was doing it then, but when I did, I had the sensation there was someone with me looking over my shoulder……..Like that, “I’m not alone here” feeling. The hair stood up on the back of my neck…

I saved the picture to her profile in my family tree and I continued to search the Ancestry website. I found her parents in census records with her name listed in the home.

Seems I’d found the right people.

 

If you’ve ever search census records, marriage certificates and death certificates you know, it’s easy to get people confused. I was surprised at how many people can share the same name and the misspellings abound…

 

Though it was probable I’d found all the accurate information, I was nervous.

What if it wasn’t the “right  family? What if I was way off base? What if I’d gone in the absolute wrong direction?!

Yet, I couldn’t shake the undenyable feeling that I had the names I needed.

I realize new information is added constantly but I was still astounded that here it was staring me in the face.

I went from nothing one day to everything the next.

 

I was so intrigued and excited. I found myself bouncing around on the website just clicking away. Back and forth matching dates and names.

 

And then I hit the jackpot…… I found *Dorothy’s obituary. Not the actual newspaper article, but a formatted recorded form with all the verbiage.

It listed my grandfather’s name as her spouse who’d preceded her in death and…….. get this………names of 2 daughters, their husbands and 8 grandchildren.

 

Names. Of. Her Family. Members.

Concrete names.

I was freaking out.

 

I stopped right there. After not knowing whether there were siblings on my dad’s side, here I had names….full on names.

Even though I knew it was likely they’d had children, I’d spent so much time associating my grandfather and his wife as childless. I thought the lack of information was indicative of them not having their own family….

My head was about to explode.

I could barely absorb what I saw. “What if this is really the right record!  I mean really, how many couples with both of the names *Marvin and *Dorothy *Hart  could exist in the United States?”

I was afraid to get excited…what if these were the wrong people?

But what if they were the right ones??!!

 

I was on the website for hours, studying the information I’d found.

 

I utilized one of the searches where you plug in one of your ancestor’s names to see if there are any other family trees on the website with that name in them. I entered in my grandfather’s name and only one “public” tree  I located had his name in it.

“Public trees” are those where a particular user allows other Ancestry.com members to see the ancestors in their family tree. “Private trees” are just that; private. In a “Private Tree” you can see the ancestor who’s name matches your ancestor’s but not much else.

 

With the discovery that I’d found a member, I utilized the messaging option on the website to ask that person if the patriarch in her tree was her grandfather……

……..ESPECIALLY BECAUSE THAT MEMBER’S NAME MATCHED THE NAME OF ONE OF THE GRANDCHILDREN IN *DOROTHY’S OBITUARY!!!!!!!

I know, right?!

Wow.

All my life wondering about my biological grandfather and his possible children……. here I had a legitimate link?

 

The member I messaged, answered within a few hours and said ,”Yes, that was my Mother’s father.”

Aack!! Holy Crap!!!!!

But wait! What if my grandfather’s name was just a common name and she also had a family member with the same one?! I hadn’t been specific enough!!!!

I went back and messaged her again but didn’t get second response.

Oh crud, I thought. I blew that tiny window of opportunity. I just wanted to reach out into the interwebs and scream…wait a minute!!!

 

This was an emotionally exhausting project. So much of my brain space had been devoted to working on it. I needed to let go for a few days and think about what I’d found.

At this point I hadn’t even told anyone in my family about the discovery.

I was at a loss as to what to do next.

 

A few days later, while  I was getting ready for work I was rethinking all the physical records I’d seen concerning my grandfather and his wife. Right then I remembered…… besides their marriage certificate,  I’d only seen records of phone directories, not census records!

I’d seen at least 4 directory records from different places in the U.S. but it didn’t cross my mind what I was looking at!!!!  Phone directories are not census records! They do not show the inhabitants of the household, only the head of the household and their spouse!

As I’m thinking this I hear a voice in my head say,” You were the one who decided there weren’t any children. You did that.”

I had made assumptions based on what I saw not paying attention to what kind of records they were!

 

I didn’t go back to my computer until late night the next day….all the while pondering what was made evident to me.

Phone directories. Not Census records. Phone directories. Not census records…..

 

I kept returning to the obituary and thinking…. I (we) have two aunts (and uncles) and 8 first cousins? Their names are right in front of me. These are real people.

After wondering all my life ……and, if this is true they live 3 flippin’ states away from me?

So surreal.

It only took me a few hours spread over a few weeks to find everything I was looking for. The names in my family tree had never changed from the very beginning. But now I had answers.

 

Two days later, as I was about to drift off to sleep, I hear a voice say my name.

It was a grown woman’s voice gently saying my name. Not yelling, not calling, just saying my name….as if to get my attention.

  “Crap. I was almost asleep”, I thought. And then…”Wait,who was that?”

 

This sort of thing has happened to me my whole life. My whole life. Not the same voice but every once in a while, I’ll hear someone say my name. 

I’ve always assumed it was my own immagination…as vivid as it is….working overtime…except that I was currently reading the book,  A Sudden Light By Garth Stein and one of the characters in the book was having the same experience.

This stuff happens to other people?? Someone actually wrote about this?!

 

( Great book by the way, I highly recommend it. You’re welcome for the plug, Mr. Stein)

 

 

I went on about my business and later in the week I asked a friend, who’s extremely intutitive, about what I’d heard. She looked at me for a minute as if to retrieve information and said,” I think this is someone you know.”

 

Whatever or whomever it was, I was aware that I was supposed to be working on something or not forgetting something.

Or, taking my new found information and moving forward….

 

So, I did…..

 

*Names have been changed to maintain privacy.

 

Side note: It is not my intention to shame my grandmother or anyone involved with our family’s history…this is merely my personal journey in finding my ancestry.

Due to my dad’s mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease, he has not been a part of the research.

 

 

This is the honest accounting of everything we were (weren’t) told and my personal experience in the process of finding my family’s heritage.

To be continued…

 



Incomplete…… A Journey Of Discovery


 

 

It is the strangest thing to not know where you came from….I mean, I know where I came from…..duh, my mom and dad…. but there  was a large missing piece of our family puzzle……. for as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to find it.

The very idea that there was such a big chunk of our ancestry unaccounted for pushed me to search…..

 

 

My dad grew up not knowing his father.

 

It was just “one of those things” we sort of accepted that we’d never know. We knew my Dad’s father’s name but not much else.

The subject, when I was a kid, was totally taboo. We didn’t mention it ever but as my sister and I got older we started asking questions.

Nothing ever came of it.

 

The topic was always hush-hush.

 

I understand it was a time and a place back  in 1934 but come on……like if we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist?

There wasn’t a way to explain why my sister and brother were so tall when the 3 other complete sides of our family were not.

Or that my dad didn’t look much like his mother…maybe he resembled his father?

My grandmother would not acknowledge our curiosity.

 

That was until my sister had her first baby and wanted to know if there were any health issues on that side of the family. What she got was a extremely abbreviated version of what had occured…..

 

She got pregnant, he got transferred out of state, her  mother took her on a train to where he was and made him marry my grandmother, they went home, my dad was born….end of story.

 

That was it. Nothing else.

Of course my sister, brother and I wanted to know more.

              

 

In 2012 I started a free account on Ancestry. com.

 

I immediatly entered in the names I needed to start my family tree. Even without paying the membership fee, there was a ton of information available.

Gaining access to those 3 known sides of my ancestors on the website  was easy …..those sides were Mormon and their information was listed in the church.

 

It was that 4th side of my family that elluded me. That side was nearly impossible to search. I had the necessary names but it didn’t seem to matter.

When I couldn’t find a thing, got discouraged and dropped the project for two years.

 

Then, in November of 2014 I was prompted to start searching again. Prompted by what..I don’t know….but I began really, really looking…

 

I’ve always felt incomplete. There was this whole side of me…of my sister, my brother and my dad …..missing. 

This time I wouldn’t quit. I couldn’t

 

And it’s a good thing I didn’t………………………..

 

 

 

Side note: It is not my intention to shame my grandmother or anyone involved with our family’s history…this is merely my personal journey in finding my ancestry. The events that occured in 1934 are not important now. This is more about connecting the chain that is our family back together.

 

Due to my dad’s mid-stage Alzheimers’ disease, he has not been a part of my research.

 

 

 

This is the honest accounting of everything we were (weren’t) told.

To be continued…

 



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