Finding Cousins & Re-meeting Relations

My sister and I have been working diligently on the Family Tree all year. She's been working on getting all the family photos we can get our hands on scanned in, and I've been working on gathering paperwork and facts and untangling some of the knots and filling in the blank spaces in our tree. When I've gone over to help her get faces labeled on the photos, I've really been startled how much working on them has helped me re-connect to those family members who have been gone for decades, and has helped me finally sort out some confusion in certain lines. It's even introduced me to new branches that I had no information on before.

I discovered a great-great aunt I knew nothing about on one my side of my dad's tree, and a bunch of aunts and uncles on the other side of that branch as well.

On my mother's side, the huge Welsh family tree is very slowly starting to come together, though I know we've a long way to go before that's all sorted out. But I've got more family that I didn't have in my tree finally tracked back to a common ancestor, so I know I'm getting somewhere.

It's been wonderful to meet them all so far.

And even more, to meet and re-meet my direct ancestors.

Dora, my paternal grandfather's mother, who I never really knew before—she died five months before I was born—has suddenly become a real person to me after only being a name on a page to me for years. She was a good Jewish girl who met her husband in Frankfurt shortly after the end of the Great War. The two raised six kids together there until 1933, when my great-grandfather decided it was best to leave for the family's safety. After their arrival in America, her husband fell ill, so she became the family breadwinner, working as a cook to make ends meet.

Mary, who preferred to be called May, was an Irish girl at heart, despite being born in Philadelphia. She returned to Ireland with her family in the early 1900s, and from there moved to Canada, where she met her Norwegian husband. The two of them had quite a small family, only two boys, the younger of which died in World War II. I was lucky enough to know granny for the first 15 years of my life, the longest of the three great-grandparents I was lucky enough to meet.

Eliza, who was so known as Bessie that everyone assumed her name was Elizabeth, came to Canada from Wales with her family when she was still young. She was an active woman who liked to make hats, sang in choirs, always wore spotted dresses, and loved being a grandmother. I've even learned that she came down to Seattle in 1910 for the Yukon Exhibition in the same location where the University of Washington stands today. Nain (Northern Welsh for Grandmother) always had a smile for everyone, and I loved knowing we were going to see her. She died in 1980.

And then there's my Grandfather. This summer, he'll have been gone for twenty years. He survived World War II, and came home to Canada to raise a family with my grandmother. They had four kids together, and when work grew scarce, moved down here to Washington when he found a better job. After retiring, he stayed active as a Mason, even becoming Grand-Master for a time. And when he wasn't off doing Masonic things, he was working on his marquetry. He made gorgeous pictures which hang in many of his relations' homes today. I have at least four, myself. He was a hard-working man, and a good man. I was pleased to see how many came to his funeral when he died. I still miss him.

Without the pictures, the three I'd known had begun to fade from my memory. Seeing them in these photos, both photos I knew, or as I knew them, and those I did not, particularly those from before I was alive, really reminded me of who my family were. Made them more real, again. And reminded me of the stories about them. They even gave me new stories and facts to add to their lives.

So if you're finding it all tedious, I can highly recommend going out to search for those family photos you don't have access to. The people you'll meet, and the people you'll re-meet will remind you of just why you're doing it.


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About this blog

This blog is maintained by two sisters who have had a life long interest in geneology.
Mika writes here mostly about our family (Hansen, Hillinger, Bordewick, Park, etc), and her search for more information.
Shannon mostly uses this space as a place to make the many stories written about and by her husband's family (Holly, Walker, Walpole, etc) available to the rest of the family, present and future.

Our blog is named Oh Spusch! mostly because Shannon is bad at naming things. The first post I put up includes a story about the time Walker's great grandfather took his whole family out to see a play and the littlest kept saying "Oh! Spusch!" No one ever figured out what she meant by that.