Monday, January 6, 2014

My Most Remarkable Genealogical Experience

Genealogically speaking, what is the most remarkable genealogical experience you have had in the last few years? Was it to find some thing, like a document, record, photograph, to find some place, like a conference you attended, a hidden drawer in a dresser, a town where your ancestors lived, a migratory route your ancestors followed, or to find another genealogist you have become friends with, a person you read about, or a relative you did not know existed? 

In my case, the most wonderful find is that I have become friends with a dear relative who is my second cousin, two times removed, who is 25 years older than I am. 

My maternal great-great grandmother, Henrietta Elizabeth Williams Gray, was born in 1828. She was 20 years older than one of her younger brothers, James Franklin Williams, who was born in 1848. She was married the same year that her younger brother was born. I am a descendant of my maternal  great-great grandmother Henrietta Elizabeth Williams Gray. She died in 1897, 45 years before my birth. My second cousin, two times removed, is the descendant and granddaughter of her maternal grandfather, James Franklin Williams who died in 1926, nine years after my second cousin's, two times removed, birth. She loved and visited with her grandfather for the first nine years of her life.

This is how the spacing of generations in different families can make such different spreads in ages. 

The 20 years' younger brother was the grandfather of my second cousin, two times removed, a dear 96-year old lady friend who I met by phone through another second cousin in her seventies. I later discovered that my 96-year old second cousin, two times removed used a computer.  So here I am, a 71-year old woman with a lady second cousin, two times removed, who is a 96-year old woman and we began writing each other using email. I also met my 96-year old second cousin in person, and we began to visit when I would drive to Arlington, TX and either have lunch with her and her friends, or we would go out to eat at Furr's Cafeteria and sometimes go shopping. When I met my 96-year old second cousin, two times removed, two years ago, she used her computer in her independent living apartment in Arlington, TX. for email with family and friends. 

She bought her computer in the late 1980s, taught herself how to use it for email and genealogy, and shared all her research about our common ancestors with me. Last year, her computer "crashed". I had it repaired for her, but in doing so, no one in her family had thought to remember or write down all of her user names and passwords for email, bank account, etc. At age 95, she was not able to remember herself all the steps it takes to get to remember to get everything going again. They were lost forever in her present mind and although I tried to retrieve them, I was not able to. 

This taught me a valuable lesson. ALWAYS, ALWAYS ALWAYS, write down somewhere safe EVERY USER NAME and PASSWORD, ask a trusted relative to keep all the USER NAMES and PASSWORDS for you, use an external drive or thumb drive to retain all of the pertinent information, use icloud backup, or use a password protection program that will remember and open up everything automatically for you. 

One or more these methods could have saved my 96-year old dear second cousin, two times removed, so she could continue her joy of communicating with a computer.

I hope all of my readers will enjoy this remarkable story about my dear 96-year old second cousin, two times removed who I hope to remain friends with past her 100th birthday in 2017. 

If you have been able to enjoy a remarkable friendship with someone in your genealogy research, whether it has been a family member or friend, I hope you will share your remarkable experience in the comments below, or link to your blog or website where you have written about your remarkable genealogical experience.