Monday, July 11, 2011

What I Started With

When my Dad got in contact with the family member he had in mind, something unexpected happened. He isn't sure how it happened, but a different family member sent him an email. The granddaughter of one of Dad's uncles sent him an email. She had been doing family research for a number of years. Her project started as a school project and she never quit. He was blown away by amount of information she had, and began sharing. Cousin Valerie had grown up in New Jersey too, but had by this time moved to Canada and started a family. Many long and forgotten memories of Dad's, little by little, got dusted off and brought back into light. When I'd talk to him on the phone, I could just imagine the look on his face. Valerie was sharing old photos, talking about people Dad hadn't thought about in years. He'd tell me things, and I'd try to write it down as he went. Then he'd put it in email and send it, and I groped in the darkness of the internet trying to find census, cemetery records etc. I felt like I was hunting for a needle in a haystack sometimes. My kids were young, and life was busy, but on slow days I'd do what I could.

Dad's Maternal Line
My family would go back to Kansas about once a year, or every other year to visit, and one such visit we got talking about Family Tree stuff. Dad brought out a family tree of his mother's side (Havens) that had been done back in the 80's. I had known about it, but forgot about it. Dad let me have his copy, and we made a copy of it for him too. It contained info I had never seen before. It had names and stories, cousins and ancestors. It was like gold to me! My first real peek into our family's past. How we got here and who we came from. The earliest names in the the tree are Frederick Kayhart (aka Gearhardt)  who married a Vanderhouf/Vanderhout. It says Frederick was born at sea in 1757 and died 1855 in Pine Brook (I assume NJ).  This couple are my 4th great grandparents. It also had another set of 4th great grandparents listed. Thomas Leach who was born 1781, in Nyack, NY. and died in Brook Valley (no date shown). His wife is simply listed as Priscilla. No last name, no dates.
I only recently came back to this tree to try to expand on it, but that is another story for another day. An amazing story it is too!

My Maternal Line
On that same trip back home, I went to visit Grandma. No trip back home was complete without a visit with Grandma. Grandma was that very special person in my life. We spent so much time at her house when we were growing up. She taught us kids many things, nurtured us, inspired us, put up with us, and fed us. Grandma fed us good things. But on this trip, while my little boys were running around playing with dogs and toys, I asked Grandma if she had any family information, names in a Bible or anything. She started telling me by memory, and I still have where I tried to write those names down in a way I could remember who was who. It was all so confusing. Names of people I could barely remember meeting as a small child. Grandma would mention them in stories through the years, but it was hard for me to remember who was who. They were names floating in the air. Then Grandma got out a newer Bible. not "the family Bible" just a Bible. She opened it up, and found a couple slips of paper.  I asked her permission to take them to Dad's so I could scan them. I promised to return them quickly. She agreed and that is what we did.
Here are those scans, which is what I started with when I started on my maternal line.

This white paper is my grandma's line (my mom's mom). Surnames include: RIGGS, MAKIN, BARRETT.
The yellow papers (was actually one long page but we had to split it into two scans) is my grandpa's line (my mom's dad). Surnames include: DUNCAN, MC CLUER, HASE. The double entry of Duncan is not a mistake. The family lore handed down was that Albert and Viola were cousins. But that will be another story for another day too.

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