If you’ve read my two previous posting, you’ll recall my telling of some coincidences I’ve recently observed or experienced.
Well, if events come in threes, I can attest to a third:
This week I had two persons contact me for genealogy suggestions and advice: both were originally from South Dakota, my home state. One person was also a South Dakota State alumni, as am I (“Go, Jacks!”) and, both had questions about searching in areas of South Dakota which were familiar to me.
Love these “did this really happen” and “small world” experiences!
Keeping an open mind–and being prepared for finding answers in unexpected places–is a familiar adage to experienced genealogy researchers. I saw an example of this in a recent day-long workshop that our local genealogy society presented.
During the last session of the day, the presenter was using some of her own family tree as an example. Suddenly a member of the audience announced with delight, “Hey, those are my ancestors, too!”
The speaker and audience member had never met previously, but a follow-up discussion revealed they were second cousins once removed! They had grown up in the same area of Iowa, but with about a little more than a generation between them. Currently they live about 90 miles apart.
This genealogy research is good for finding deceased ancestors but becomes even more rewarding when a connection is made with a fellow cousin. Especially when the example used includes the very people you are researching!
What person doesn’t enjoy a pleasant surprise? As a genealogy researcher, I love that “a-ha” moment of discovery, sometimes celebrated with what is known as the “genealogy happy dance.”
Recently, there have been two very pleasant such events in my genealogy life. The first occurred during a vacation to Indiana. We had just toured the Twin Oaks Dairy Farm and stopped at their gift shop to eat lunch. As I was browsing some of the displays, someone hurled their baseball cap at me. I winced and though, “What bratty kid is throwing things in here?” Well, it was not a bratty kid at all, but my older brother Ron. (Yes, in our growing up years I may have called him that, but the fact is I have always admired him … even when we would fight). Ron, his wife Marilyn, and their daughter Maria were traveling from Minnesota to the East Coast to visit another family member when they decided to take a quick break at the Twin Oaks gift shop. Now what are the chances of this happening? I’d say very, very remote. Neither of us knew of the others travel plan. It was such a delight to see and visit with them, realizing if either of us had been ten minutes earlier or later, we would have missed each other. I am glad that was not the case
The second serendipity event happened as I did some further research on the genealogy of our son-in-law’s ancestors. It turns out that his sixth great-grandfather (and, thus our granddaughter Ava’s seventh great-grandfather) was the original owner of the property where we owned our first house. It was home to Ava’s mother Naomi for the first four years of her life. Translated: Ryan’s sixth great-grandfather, John Wheeler, had a land patent (homestead) from the U.S. government in 1852, making him the original owner after Uncle Sam. In the middle 1970s we bought our first house on a portion of that land.
So, again, what is the probability of a person living on a portion of land previously owned by a seventh generation ancestor of her future husband?
Coincidences of these kind are fun and fascinating!
Mother’s Day 2014 has been a wonderful day for me. First, of all because Jim and I raised the most wonderful daughter, Naomi, and we enjoy an excellent relationship with her. And there was an extra blessing this year when Ava Jeanette Meeks was born to Naomi and Ryan. So we’re enjoying this “Grandparents Thing” and are beginning to understand why grandparents can be a bit silly sometimes.
And this year my husband, Jim, gave me a very special present when he restored the child’s cupboard pictured below. This cupboard was built by my grandfather John Schaefers for my mother Julitta, probably in the early 1920s. My sister Pat and I used it as children and I have memories of many happy hour of playing with our toy dishes and it.
The cupboard has been made the rounds of various nieces that had it, beginning in the mid-1970s. Now the cupboard has come into my possession, but it had shown signs of wear after almost 90 years.
My husband patiently and lovingly sanded it, removed the (probably original) paint, made repairs, and repainted it. Now it looks exactly as I remember it from my childhood!
What a lovely gift this has been! Thank you, Jim!
Easter, the holiest day in Christianity, is a time of great rejoicing and celebrated widely. Growing up in South Dakota it was a special time for my siblings and me during the 1950s. We had the practice of “giving up” candy during Lent and, since Lent officially ended at noon on Saturday of Holy Week, we splurged and indulged our taste in sweets. Mine was chocolate, my favorite food group (the other three being Coke, popcorn and fruit). What fun it was not to have to wait until after mass on Easter to be able to feast a bit.
The other activity of the day before Easter was the annual tradition of dyeing Easter eggs. Oh, the patience my mom had, especially the year we spontaneously invited three or four of the neighborhood kids to join us in this ritual. I don’t have any bad memories of that day so we must not have spilled the egg-dye. Probably the layers of newspapers we had spread around served a good purpose.
My favorite egg color was purple. Maybe it was the intensity. And we loved to put the decals on the eggs but that usually did not turn out very well. And I always scratched my colored egg with the metal thingy we used to handle the eggs. It was obvious at an early age that being an egg-dyeing artist was not in my future. <Sigh>
When there were only one egg left to dye, we would pour all the colors together and the result was a muddy-looking colored egg. Not surprisingly, that one was buried at the bottom of the pile of the colored eggs. It was not very pretty.
The other element of preparing for Easter was The Easter Outfit. That probably meant a new dress, shoes, and hat since we covered our head in church. Most years we only bought what needed to be replaced, especially if we’d had a growth spurt in the past months. But it was always a special feeling to have our new outfit. My mother was an excellent seamstress and she made some of our clothes, frequently using the same pattern and type of fabric for my sister and me. But the dresses were always a different color so we were not “matched.” It was a special feeling to attend mass on Easter Sunday looking our best.
Happy Easter to all my readers!
Little Ava Jeanette Meeks made her entrance into the world on February 21, 2014, weighing in at 7 pounds, one ounce, and measuring 18 3/4 inches long. She is precious, sweet, and beautiful.
Pictured above are Ava with her parents Naomi and Ryan Meeks and the family “guard dog”, Junior (who has become very protective of Ava in a big-brother type of way).
Within the past few weeks I’ve attended several events marking various life transitions: a visitation for the passing of the 100 year friend of a mother; a retirement of a former coworker; and a birthday celebration of another friend. Each of these is a passage of life … but the most hopeful, optimistic and joyful is clearly the birth of a grandchild!
Welcome to the world, little Ava Jeanette Meeks. We’ve been waiting for you.