Out on a Limb: Charting generosity
How random acts of genealogical kindness make family trees grow.
When we started planning this issue's cover package on charting your family tree, with its beautiful save-and-frame chart, my own family tree was missing a few lower branches. Even just recording five generations, as our “gatefold” cover chart makes it easy and attractive to do, I had a big blank on my father's side: I knew about my great-grandmother, Mary Eckstrom, but her parents were a mystery. What were their names? Did they come to America with their daughter or stay in Sweden? No clue.

Hoping to get lucky, I posted a query on GenForum <www.genforum.com>, a bulletin board for exchanging genealogical info (we reviewed another such site, the newly combined Ancestry/Roots Web boards at <boards.ancestry.com>, in our last issue). Maybe I'd connect with some distant Eckstrom kin, I thought. I never dreamed how lucky I'd get.

It's amazing what genealogists will do for each other — even for fellow family historians they've never met. Soon after my posting, I got an email from a Mike Pancrazio who lives near my father's hometown of Moline, I11. Though Mike wasn't even a distant cousin, he'd taken the time to hunt for my ancestors' obituaries in the local library, transcribed what he'd found and e-mailed it to me.