Amy Coffin's latest challenge in the series 52 Weeks of Abundant GenealogyWeek 10 – Genealogy Road Trips: No two genealogy road trips are the same but they’re always fun and meaningful. Describe a memorable trip in your past. Where did you go? What did you find (or not find)? Did you meet any new cousins? What did the trip mean to you and your family?
This weekend as my husband and I planned our summer "vacation/road trip", I kept asking myself how I could squeeze in a few visits to ancestor locations, maybe some cemeteries, and a few hours at an archive. BUT, it will be my husband's vacation also and since he is a famuggle I don't want to be too inconsiderate. A little inconsiderate is acceptable because that allows him to be magnanimous - an endearing quality . Then as I sat on my sofa in the dark with my computer on my lap and a mug of coffee at my side, reading through the day's email, I found this on Geneabloggers. My thoughts drifted back to road trips I have taken in the past. Every one of them surpassed my hopes and dreams so I have decided to repost one today. . . but which one???
Reposted from Friday July 9, 2010
Hmmmmmm. . . . . .
WARNING: This is an unusually long, rambling blog post. You might want to skip it. This is about the man with the beard above. Remember, I warned you.
Which of my intended blog posts should I do next? Should I continue, albeit interrupted, the family research trip thread? This would give a semblance of organization and continuity to this blog. Should I discuss the Geneabloggers challenge #23? - nope, I am still in the middle of that situation! Should I do a belated Father's Day because of the unending guilt I feel for not giving my wonderful father his day? Then there is the Ireland cemetery blog in which I could share many of the photos I took - only my favorite thousand, I promise! Hmmmmm. . . . .
Darn it, I started out with such intent to be organized. I set the stage for my blog name and planned to continue in the same way, putting together the pieces I have found in some orderly way. Remember, I told you earlier that I always INTEND to be organized. But, it always seems to fall apart in the middle somewhere. In reality I assumed that I would run out of steam, get bored with it, and stop for lack of ideas, but it hasn't happened so far. I now find myself in the position of "banking" blog post ideas because I don't have the time to write about all of the ideas I have. I think I also forgot some, but since I can't remember them, they don't count. Without Lisa Ellam of The Faces of My Family I would still be thinking about a blog. She gave me the nudge I needed to actually sign up and begin. Only time will tell if that is credit or blame?? I created this blog essentially for me - to help me organize my thoughts and create a record of my family research. I only pretend I am talking to someone else, but I will continue this illusion.
Back to my original quandary. What topic will I tackle today? Since, I have an upcoming family history research trip to Iowa with my brother - or without him if he backs out AGAIN. By writing out my options here, I can see clearly that my subject today should be a continuation of the saga of my four family research trips during the first year of my obsession called genealogy.
Today I will relate the story of my third family history research trip in which I traveled to Canada!
In my post about my first trip, I said that I shared information with my cousin about "the man with the long white beard". Much of that information came from another long lost cousin that I connected with on a message board. She had posted a question searching for information on James B. Allen, and when I responded a couple of years after her original post, that I thought this might be my g-g-grandfather, it started a wonderful correspondence with his family in Eramosa Twp, Ontario, Canada - listed in the census records as Canada West. She had been working on her family genealogy with her daughter for over 30 years, but they never knew what happened to James B., one of 13 children born to James Bush Allen and Anna Lyman. I was feeling pretty good about the fact that I had just identified him from the census records. Up to this point, we were only guessing his identity. The 1925 Iowa state census was the key to unlocking a flood of information. In 1925, he was living with his daughter, my beloved g-grandmother, and that made the connection. If you have family in Iowa during this time and have not checked it out, you must do so immediately. It is a goldmine! It is four pages long and includes the names of the parents, not just the country of origin, and where they were married.
Eileen, my new relative, and I corresponded by email several times, but then she mailed some photos she had. As I opened the envelope, a photo of my grandmother standing behind the "man with the long white beard" with baby Margel on his lap, fell out. It was a rush of feelings. Then I pulled out another photo of four distinguished men . . . my g-g-grandfather (on the left) and three of his brothers, Peter, Joseph and Israel. There was no doubt that this was the correct family connection. I began to flood her with questions. Then one evening my phone rang and it was Eileen. She thought we should chat over the phone. And we did for over an hour. She told me how James B. use to come back home to visit every couple of years and some members of the family still commented on his marriage to a Catholic. She told me about visiting the Old Stone Church in Eramosa and digging up the headstone of Annie Lyman that had sunk beneath the grass. Oh, I wanted to visit that cemetery. This was my g-g-g-grandparents! We had a wonderfully long talk, and she invited me to visit - Well, maybe I hinted that I would like to meet her. A plan was born. In the last week of my summer vacation, I hurriedly made plans to travel five hours north for a family meeting. Her daughter would be visiting, and she could drive us to the cemetery.
This was to be a solo trip without GPS, but I was confident. I had multiple printed Google maps and a large print spiral bound atlas. It was a sunny day and everything looked good. Then 2 hours into the trip, Boom, kathunk, kathunk, kathunk. I looked around and pulled off to the side of the road to check the car. As I rounded the back of the car I saw the rip in the sidewall of my rear tire. Thank goodness I had AAA - I did send the check in didn't I? I finally found my information tucked between a punch card for JoJo's pretzels and an old L.S. Ayres credit card. When I called they informed me that they didn't have a record of my current membership. Oh no, it had expired. Then the wonderful lady told me that they could reinstate my membership if I wanted to put it on a credit card, and they would send a truck right out. What do you think I did? I'm saved, but the truck had several other calls first and so the half hour wait turned into two and a half as I walked back and forth in the grass beside the car. I called everyone I could think of and told them my tale of woe to pass the time. After the truck arrived it was off to the local Walmart to get a new tire, because my mini spare wouldn't last. Finally, I am on my way after a five hour delay. I arrived at my destination moments before dark descended and was greeted with hugs and smiles from three complete strangers. . . . but not strangers for long. They wouldn't hear of me staying in a motel, they had a room all ready for me. Isn't family great!
The next day we traveled to the Old Stone Church, but since Eileen couldn't remember the EXACT route, I saw a fair amount of the local area first. I loved it. As we pulled up to the country church, she explained that the records for the church had been lost in a fire when the caretaker took them home for safety and then her house caught fire taking the records with them. I gathered together my camera and purse, opened the car door, and then reached back in for an umbrella. Yes, it rained the whole time we were there, but, on the up side, it makes the headstones easier to read. She showed me the headstone of Annie Lyman, and it had deteriorated quite a bit since she uncovered it. It was almost unreadable. I'm glad she had a photo from when she first uncovered it. Next to hers was her husband, James Bush Allen which was in better shape. As we walked around the cemetery, dodging the worst of the puddles she pointed to this brother, that sister-in-law, an aunt or infant from the family connecting the family relationships. The downpour couldn't dampen the emotion of this experience.
This time I brought the scanner and laptop, and it was a good thing. I could barely comprehend the amount of information that they had assembled. We started by making copies, but soon decided that scanning was the logical solution. It went much faster. We worked late that night, and I was so very grateful for their generosity with their 30 years of research. Comparatively, I could only share a small snippet of information about James Bush Jr. and my family with them, but they seemed happy to get it. I am still trying to sort out everything they shared. Early the next morning I packed the car, they fed me breakfast and gave me drinks and snacks for the trip home. This was an uneventful drive home, for which I was grateful.
Over the course of two days, Eileen and her daughters went from strangers to family -a wonderful transformation indeed. Can I think of another reason to return? Hmmmmm. . . . .
Postscript: Sadly, I have not made it back to Canada yet, but remain in touch with my cousins and their generous help with Allen records were invaluable as I prepared for my trip to the family town of Chipping Warden last summer.