Monday, May 30, 2011


I have on several occasions in the past, been the grateful recipient of Random  Acts Of Genealogical Kindness.  On the Ancestry message boards as well as the numerous other state sites, the generous gift of time by strangers who look up your ancestors and share their knowledge is overwhelming.   There are uploads to Find A Grave and additions to Dead Fred daily. Then there are the individuals who go beyond and make a trip to their local cemetery to take a photo for you or travel to the library to find an obit that is only available locally.  These individuals must surely wear a golden crown.

I remember the day I opened my grandfather's obituary and read a lengthy accounting of his life and accomplishments.  I don't remember my grandfather, and I only had a fuzzy black and white picture of  him standing with my parents on their wedding day.  He died when I was only five.  This wonderful lady had taken time to look up and then send his obit to me along with those of several other family members.  She opened the doors for me to that side of my family.

Recently, I have corresponded with a gentleman whose gr. grandfather, Joshua Pilcher Brown from Nemaha County, Kansas was a sergeant in the 8th Kansas Volunteer Infantry, Company D with my g-g-g-grandfather  that I wrote about here.  He is researching this particular company, and we have exchanged multiple emails.  He kindly thought Isaac's story was compelling.  Then when he explained that he would be traveling from Oregon to Kansas on a research trip, I boldly asked if he could look for a few graves should he find himself in the Frankfort cemetery.

Then one evening as I opened my email after a long and stressful day at school, I found a long string of emails from my friend.  I opened them quickly and discovered that he had indeed been to the Frankfort cemetery and had sent headstone photos of my relatives.  He told me about talking to the sexton and learning of a few memories he had of my grandfather and his brother who owned a "beer joint".  There was a picture of the vacant, but still standing, Winifred State Bank and an article indicating that my gr. grandfather, David Walker, had been the bank president.  The town of Winifred is barely clinging to a map these days.  I had thought it was only a ghost town until another lady told me that her daughter lived there.

You see Isaac Walker and his wife, along with other members of the Ohio Colony, settled this land where Winifred is located and the town itself is named for my, Winifred Barrett Walker, Isaac's wife. 

In one email, my friend told me he had some information for me that he discovered on his trip and if I would email him my address, he would send it to me. 

Several days later, when I came home from work and laid my school bag on the table, I noticed. . . really it was hard to miss . . . a three foot long irregular cardboard package wrapped in clear packing tape.  My friend's address was written in the corner.  Hmmmmmm. . . this didn't look like documents.  I turned it over looking at all sides and then my daughter said, "For pete's sake Mom, open it!"  Seemed like a practical suggestion.  As I ripped away the packing tape and folded back the cardboard, the sign above tumbled out.  The breath went out of me as I kept saying, "I can't believe it. . .I can't believe it. . ."  From my daughter there was a long drawn out, "Okaaaaaay. . . what is it?"  As I explained the meaning of the sign, I made her promise that she would never throw it out after I passed away.  She was now the official keeper of the story and knew it wasn't just a random antique ,but was part of our family's history.  She promised, but suggested that I type it out and tape it to the back just in case.

I emailed Marc immediately, and told him how thrilled I was.  "Where did it come from?", I asked.  He assured me that it was completely legal, and that he had found it in an antique store.  He told me that if it had been his grandmother, he would have wanted it, but . . .no, I could not pay him for it.  It was a gift.  This was truly a Random Act of Very Generous Genealogical Kindness!

What can you say?  What words could adequately express my gratitude? How could I possibly pay him back?  But that's the way it is with Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness.  You usually can't pay them back, you can only pay it forward . . .again . . . and again . . . and again.

But . . . if you or anyone you know has an ancestor who was in the 8th Kansas Infantry, Company D, I know someone who would be interested.


  1. What a great story! It is so encouraging and inspiring to know that generous people such as these are out there helping people every day.

  2. Oh, this just made my day, what a wonderful friend and genie angel, and LOVE LOVE LOVE the sign!

  3. How absolutely beautiful and what lovely human beings you both are! He surely wouldn't have even thought of it had you not been as receptive, interested and one grand storyteller - but isn't he a doll?? You deserve one another in the best of ways.

  4. What a great post! If reflects so many of my experiences.

  5. Thanks for sharing such a great story!

  6. Wow, what an amazing story! Truly touching and inspiring, and wonderfully told. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  7. What a very thoughtful and generous friend you found, Margel. Thanks for sharing the story with us. I love the sign!

  8. I so love my blog. Thank you all for stopping by my little corner of cyberspace.

  9. How cool was that?

    See, there are so many good and generous people all over the place...