I took a walk around the Park to (hopefully) improve the health of my unhealthy legs, ankles, and feet. My reward was in the mailbox in the form of a big white envelope with the 155-page high-quality publication of Mennonite Family History. I’m privileged to be a contributing editor. Frankly, I’m never certain which story “they” publish. To my delight, it is “Where’s Charlie?” The topic fits the messages I’ve published on my blog recently. To my further delight, “they” published the “Prayer for Genealogists” on the same page.
How many readers do genealogy “the old fashioned way”? I did–many years ago! Now I confess to “armchair research.” Do you ever ponder over individual family members? Do you linger awhile and speculate about their life? I do. I become “invested” in the person I am researching. I am meticulous about documentation and curious when “too little” information. Recently, I spent hours searching for a twelve year old girl in 1930 Federal Census.
Speculation (because I do not have verification) but I suspect she was the result of a rape. I’m calling her “Charlie” and her mother was only fourteen when she was born. No marriage record to be found and the father identified as a man the age of her grandfather. Charlie’s mother married at age sixteen and gave birth to four more children. She died at age twenty-eight shortly after birth of fourth child.
The 1930 Federal Census shows the step-father and her four half-siblings living with his parents. Where was “Charlie”? I diligently searched all 1930 Census records; I checked to see if she might be listed with grandparents. She was not with her biological father and his family. I checked the “neighboring families” of her relatives. Perhaps she was living with one of her four uncles? No record of her living with those families.
This eighth cousin touched my emotions so I used every available resource (on Ancestry.com) to develop her branch of the family tree. Woefully little information; no stories nor newspaper items listed on Ancestry. But I like to think “Charlie” was a strong woman who overcame tragedy and hardships. She lived to be one-hundred-one.
Smile as you read this short story because this genealogist is working simultaneously (feverishly?) with two computers. On one, the individual (“Charlie”) in Ancestry Lorraine Frantz Family Tree while “researching” on second computer. So many records! We just need to “search” and not rely strictly on “hints.”