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Examiner
  • Diane Mack: Ancestry bug bites again

  • A few weeks ago, I was standing in my mom’s bedroom, unpacking my luggage. I had last visited home, in September of 2012.


    When I visit, my sisters ask me to help with cleaning our parents’ home, by going through old boxes. During my last visit, I emptied mom’s closet, looking through every box.

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  • A few weeks ago, I was standing in my mom’s bedroom, unpacking my luggage. I had last visited home, in September of 2012.
    When I visit, my sisters ask me to help with cleaning our parents’ home, by going through old boxes. During my last visit, I emptied mom’s closet, looking through every box.
    However, this day, while I standing in mom’s bedroom, I noticed a small shoe box in the corner of the empty closet. I don’t know how I missed the box.
    Nevertheless, I reached up and lifted down a fragile dusty box.
    Stay with me a minute, while I step back in time.
    Six months earlier, I was at my home, sitting at the computer, where I clicked on my family history file. I do this rarely, because I get so caught up in family history, almost obsessed, that, I can’t do anything else for hours.
    As I search for an ancestor, their spouse, a child, or a great grandfather, I cannot sleep until I find them.
    I knew better than to open the file, because genealogy is so addicting.
    My mom’s only sister was Harriet. Harriet’s husband was Uncle Reed. What I remember about Uncle Reed was his quiet, kind nature.
    When we visited my grandfather’s farm on Sundays, everyone was busy; talking, eating, playing games, doing puzzles, or enjoying the outside. Each family would bring a dish of food and together, my grandpa would feed the 5,000.
    On these special Sundays, I recall Uncle Reed, sitting in the corner, smiling and listening to all the chatter. Reed was a gentle giant.
    Anyway, it was late, when I got the genealogy bug. But I wanted to find Uncle Reed’s siblings, parents, and grandparents.
    Uncle Reed had passed away 20 years before. As I began to search, I got a little overwhelmed since Uncle Reed’s last name was common in Pennsylvania.
    The more I searched, the more frustrated I became. After an hour of searching, I decided to call cousin Dawn, Uncle Reed’s daughter.
    When Dawn answered, she was surprised to hear my voice. It had been years since we had spoken. I told Dawn not to worry, everyone was fine and I had the family history bug again.
    Her response was, “Oh, Diane, you should have called yesterday! I just spoke to my dad’s only living sister.”
    Well, it was too late for that contact, so I asked as many questions as I could about Uncle Reed’s parents, grandparents, and his siblings.
    I was surprised when Dawn mentioned that Uncle Reed’s mother’s maiden name was the same as my maiden name. I thanked Dawn, hung up the phone, and raced to the computer.
    Page 2 of 2 - I searched Ancestry.com, Social Security indexes, war records, and census records.
    I found Uncle Reed’s parents’ names, Paul and Emma. His siblings were Mary, Pauline, and Mildred. However, I had no birth dates, no death dates, and only a general idea of where they had lived.
    I went to bed, with a prayer that I would find the information, some day.
    Now . . . flash forward to the shoe box in my mother’s bedroom.
    As I carefully, lifted the lid, I pulled out an old newspaper clipping. And there it was.
    The obituary and cemetery information on Paul, Emma, Mildred, Mary, and Pauline, had their parents’ names, birth dates, death dates, spouses, where they had lived, and where they were buried.
    What were the chances of my finding a newspaper article with the information which, I had been searching for?
    It really doesn’t matter.
    I’m sure Uncle Reed is still smiling.
     
    Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at jacksoncountyfamilyweek@yahoo.com or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.
     
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