The Connections Keep Widening, My Family Contacts Keep Growing

16 Feb

Overwhelming, amazing, stunning, these words cannot really describe my incredible journey in researching my family history. And I have only finished two of my great-grandparents. I wonder what will happen when I research the other six?

Since researching one of my paternal great grandmothers, actually the one I knew as a small child, I have been really shocked.   I have lived in a city in the Midwest far from my family on the East Coast for over 30 years. And in the past month my research has shown me that a branch of my great grandmother’s family settled here. We just lost touch with them.

But what is absolutely amazing to me, is that I know many of these descendants. I have volunteered with them, emailed with them, see them around town. I am Facebook friends with three of these distant cousins. They are all people that I like. One of them played an important role in the life of my son, as she was an assistant superintendent of the school district where he went to school, during a difficult time in his life.

And now I find out that they are my third cousins. I know that is not a close relationship. But they are my cousins. And in Israel, where my daughter now lives, it is her second and third cousins who have reached out to her and consider her family.

But these cousins in Israel are all family members that we remained in contact with over the years. We always knew who they were and were they lived. The cousins in Israel come from both sides of my family and my husband’s family. We knew we were family, cousins.

With the new contacts it is different. These new family members were unknown, but at the same time known. These are people I had contact with in many forums, people who have had some impact in my life, and I never knew that they were also my cousins. How strange is that? To me it seems extremely strange.

But it makes so much sense. The Internet has changed the world.   Before in the 1800s and early 1900s when people moved to the USA from Europe, they had no way to keep in contact, except through mail. And mail was not always easy. They were busy learning a new culture and a new language. It was difficult to keep in touch with relatives in New York or even in Europe. So the family ties were forgotten and lost.

With the Internet and the many ways to trace family history, these lost members are found. Through websites and Facebook groups, we can make contact. It was through the ‘Tracing the Tribe Group” that I made the first contact. But it was through Geni, that I keep seeing more and more connections! It is these Internet tools and their large outreach that enhances my ability to make these connection.

Those who know me, know that I love a good mystery. And searching for my family connections is the most personal mystery. Although I am glad I have found this family branch, it is more of the success of a hunt, of finding the answers to a mystery, the mystery of my family that excites me. How lucky am I that I can actually find new branches?

When I look at them now, I can see a resemblance in character. Every one of the four women I know are strong willed, determined and intelligent. They fit into my family, as my grandmother was a strong willed, determine and intelligent woman who worked until she was 77.

In fact, we take pride in my family that we are all strong women. And these four fit right in. Wow. If I could choose family members, I would choose women like them.

I plan to meet up with some of them next week for lunch. I learned they were my cousins several weeks ago. The other cousins, I just found out about this weekend when Geni sent me a match!

It is nice to know that I have connections here. I will look at them differently now knowing what I know about our large family. The connections keep widening and my family contacts keep growing!

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