Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Finding that long lost leaf. At last!

This is a post that I have been putting off writing. Partially because it is a rather emotional topic and story, and my now pregnant self is already simmering over in the emotional area. Also, because many of those directly involved are still with us and I do not want to violate privacy. However, today is as good as any and I would like to do this before I forget any of the wonderful details.

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I got started in genealogy as a result of my father's doing. We were to take a trip with my grandparents (mother's side) and we all needed passports. Everyone in our family that needed on got theirs without incident. Except my father. His came back as being filed under an alias and he would need to correct the paperwork and refile. He wound up finding out that the name he thought was his most of his life, was not his. His surname had never been legally changed from his surname at birth. However, everything was under the assumed surname- marriage, business, accounts, house, everything. So he began looking and asking questions and thus began his journey into genealogy.

He started talking to me about what had been going on and it got me curious. I was not in school at the time and had all kinds of free time to really look into it that he did not have at his disposal. I also remembered a file that I had looked through for a project (and then hoarded it) that had some genealogy done on one line from my mother's side. So I grabbed those files and bought a copy of Family Tree Maker and started inputting what I had in the file and what little I knew about my father's side. He was able to help with what little he had found, but there were still many dots that needed connecting. I started a trial with Ancestry and the tree exploded. I was soon in contact with a Brady researcher (my father's maternal line) that had been working on the line for over 60 years and had questions about our particular line. I went to the cemeteries, went to the the courthouses, connected with local researchers and made strides on the lines that I had available.

There was one line that I had very little. My father's paternal line. I was able to find the marriage certificate of my biological grandmother and grandfather's wedding. That confirmed his name and that they were married, but little else. I needed access to more resources and I needed more information. Efforts of inquiry to my grandmother were left unanswered. My father helped with the rumors and stories he had heard, and though they were just rumors, they proved to be helpful.

The rumor was that my grandfather had passed away in a car accident in Alaska. I searched Ancestry time and time again and found nothing. I Googled his name, and again came up empty handed. It was only after I got an subscription to Newspapers.com did I find something.(Click for larger image.)

This was wonderful news! He was, in fact, in a major car accident, but he did survive, despite the rumors being otherwise. After finding these I knew I needed to show my father. We were celebrating Christmas at their house the following weekend so I took them with me.

Shortly after we arrived I sat my father down and broached the subject. I asked him if he was sure what he was being told was true and showed him the articles I had found. After he had some time to read and absorb the news, I told him that I had sent a DNA kit off 2 weeks before and we should have results in another 6 weeks or so. It was very optimistic to think we may find a connection, but that's all we had at this time.

Fast forward 6 weeks. My results were in! I went to Ancestry to see what they said. Apparently, there was a lot of Scandinavian ancestry in me. Which was surprising as the lines I had worked with were predominately Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and German. I then went to look at the matches. One user came up with multiple people in their tree as being very closely related. So I clicked around and nothing really clicked. None of the names, etc. The majority of the places were Washington, and I figured it must be somewhere in my mother's line or my paternal grandmother's line. The results were overwhelming and confusing to me so I didn't look at them much more.

It wasn't long before this user contacted me. We had close relation and my tree was private. I told her I didn't recognize the names but she was welcome to take a look around and see if anything matched and where. I sent her an invite to view my tree and then I left for work. When I got home I came back to the following messages:

"OK, I just had a few minutes to look. What I found so far is the Rice family Joseph and Helen Rice is also my family. Helen G Rice (maiden name is Thompson: see my tree at "All in the family Tree") is my grandmothers sister. So if you are one of Joe and Helen's grandchildren or ?? that is our match. You have to have Helen as part of your DNA. But if not we need to keep looking. I will try to look more later tonight also."

"OK I just look again and Helen and Joe are your great Grandparents I believe. Welcome. I would be happy to share Helen's family...."

And then I kind of freaked out. This is what we were hoping for and it was a one in a million chance that a relative on that line had also taken the DNA test. She concluded the second email address with her email and we got in touch quickly. A couple emails led to a 2 hour phone call, which then led to a 2 hour phone call with my Aunt Sandi, Tom's sister. This led to yet another phone call. This time from my grandfather. Neither of us knew what to say but you could tell there was some true happiness on both side of the line.

I called my father and told him the news. I updated him on what we had heard versus what I was made privy to, gave contact info, etc. Eventually they began talking and talked regularly, and still do, I believe.  We went out in August to meet them and had a wonderful time. I really connected with them and we are looking forward to having them out our way this coming summer. All iin all, a hapy ending.

 Shirley, Travis, Tom, and Kyle

Kyle, Joe (my father), Tom, and Travis

"Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten."
~David Ogden Stiers


Anonymous said...

This was one of the best things to ever happen to the family, & the way it came about is almost miraculous. Thank you so much for all the work you did. And I am so thankful for the family researcher here that helped you make the connection! S. A.