Week 43: Memorable Genealogy Moment. Think back to when you first started researching your family history. Is there a memorable early genealogy moment that stands out in your mind? Describe this event or discovery and how it impacted your research going forward.
In 1992, I had the task of cleaning out my in-law's house after they had both passed away. Their sons worked full time - they had lived in the house over 40 years. Things came in, nothing much had ever gone out, since they moved in. In a desk drawer, I found a large brown envelope with a return address in Ladonia, Texas, where both my mother-in law and father-in-law had been born and it had a post mark from the 1970's. When I looked inside, it contained information on the Wishard families - the family of my father-in-law's maternal grandmother, along with a request for information on the current family of my in-laws.
I had been thinking about doing some family research as I had a book on my mother's family and had always wondered how much of it was correct. The material in the envelope was really interesting but only had the Wishards back a few generations, along with a rather fanciful story of how they arrived in America. The story of the early generations and the facts on the more current generations did not meet in the middle. I love solving puzzles and certainly this qualified.
I decided to try and get in touch with the person whose name was inscribed therein and whose address was on the envelope. I knew that not much changed in the small town of Ladonia, so I just called information and got the number of the first person with that surname. The gentleman who answered the phone was the son of the lady who had prepared the envelope of materials. He told me she was in a nursing home, in bad health, but mentally alert, and he was sure she'd like to know I was interested in the family history.
A few days later, I received a return phone call. Not only was my researcher thrilled to know someone else was interested in knowing more about the Wishards and trying to continue the research, but she had directed her son to mail me additional information she had compiled during the intervening twenty years. No one in her immediate family had any interest.
I believe finding the envelope and being able to make contact, was the beginning of how I've spent much of my time over the past twenty years. I was able to connect the generations and document the Wishards back to the immigrant although there's still a great deal of doubt about his story. My benefactor died only a few months after I contacted her son. Finding that big brown envelope was definitely my first genealogy serendipity.