There is absolutely no question in my mind where I would be in my genealogy research if I were alone, and hadn’t yet been in contact with any relatives. I’d have made a handful of discoveries, but they would pale in comparison to what I now know. I’ve found relatives, and relatives have found me in a variety of fashions.
[All names of people in "s are fictitious]
One of the first things I did upon discovering Ancestry & Rootsweb was to browse their Surname message boards. I found several posts that seemed to connect with my surnames – most of them five years old, or older. I responded, hoping the people would still have accounts. Not all did.
However, I did see a post by a “David” mentioning an ancestor, Jacob. I recognized the name of the ancestor as the brother of Selig DUDELSACK's wife. So I responded – is this the Jacob who had a sister named Anna?
I’ll admit I was somewhat paranoid when initially posting. I figured there could be crazy people, or lonely people out there who will read the queries, and then respond, “We’re cousins!” pretty much repeating back what you put in your post, perhaps doing a little research and coming up with some additional information. So I made my reply as simple as possible, and waited for the response.
My profile did indicate I am in St. Louis, and "David" posted back that Jacob indeed had a sister named Anna who settled in St. Louis, but he provided some other collateral surnames he knew about but was unclear how they connected. I knew. Since then we have exchanged emails and have carried on an extensive conversation, filling in the descendants of Jacob and Anna for each other. He is in Chicago, and there may be a Cubs-Cards game/Family Reunion in the future.
I've also posted a few queries myself. I haven't heard back, but I might have to wait five years.
I haven’t had my blog long, but I’ve already gotten a few emails from people curious about my surnames. The first person to respond was “Mike”, a DUDELSACK/FEINSTEIN cousin. I’ve posted enough on the Dudelsack surname, it isn’t a surprise. He wasn’t a previously unknown cousin, and not very distant – our grandparents were siblings - but he doesn’t live in the Midwest, and it was good “speaking” with him. He said he would be following my blog, so, “Hi, “Mike”!”
In this past week, while I’ve been pondering this post, I have received two emails from my blog. One concerning my BLATT surname, and another concerning my SLUPSKY. (The latter arriving today) It’s not clear if either are related to me, but the former email came from someone doing research for a friend, and in the process, I have gained some information. He sent me the death certificates for two great-grandparents. They both died post 1956, so they weren’t online at the Missouri government website. I knew I could order them from the state, or possibly the local courthouse. I hadn’t yet done the research to figure out how to get them as other things had higher priority. My contact had received them from the funeral home. This wasn’t an option I had considered. I knew I could obtain funeral home records, but I didn’t know those records contained copies of the death certificates. Additionally, the funeral home included a copy of the obituary – saving me the trouble of researching the newspaper's microfilm archives at the local library. The obituary mentioned my great-grandfather, Herman FEINSTEIN, was a mason, just like my great-grandfather Barney NEWMARK, but was also a member of the Moolah Shrine.
“"Agnes", my son, John is doing some genealogy research, didn’t you tell me your brother, "Rupert" was doing some a few years ago?”
Two windfalls have come from this method. The biggest is from a cousin who has spent the past twenty years researching the CRUVANT surname, in all directions possible. The Register is approximately 300 pages long. I've tried to help her with a few details here and there. I have also received some information from a BLATT cousin extending that line back a few generations. The latter is somewhat questionable. The information from Poland is highly researched with citations from birth and marriage registers, but the missing link connecting these people to my known relatives is weak, and there are some surnames that don’t match family lore, leading me to wonder if we might actually have two different families. It will take some additional research on my end to decipher this.
I have written an email to one Family Association – The FRETZ Family Association. They have published four volumes of family genealogy. I was able to find Volume 1 at the local library - and later learned that photocopies of the pertinent pages were actually already in my parents' genealogy files, given to them by my mother's aunt probably decades ago. I emailed to ask them how much information they had in volumes 2-4 on the descendants of Ebenezer Opham DENYER. They were kind enough to tell me that they had very little. Knowing full well they had probably lost the sale of three books – but they exist for the benefit of the families, not to make a profit. They even sent me what information they did have. I mean to send them a descendant chart to fill in the gaps that I can in their database, but I haven’t yet done that.
As I mentioned a couple days ago, I have mailed off two partially-blind letters to people that I was 90% sure are cousins. Neither know me from "Adam", though. I have still only heard back from one of them. The one in Texas could be composing a letter to send back to me. I did include a phone number and an email address, but they might not want to make a long distance call, and they might not have access to a computer. (It’s possible.)