My son and I, while in England and Scotland last fall, decided to take the ferry to Belfast to research in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. In communicating with the tourism center prior to the trip, I mentioned that my great-uncle was the Newtownards town clerk from 1900 to 1931. The tourism rep asked if we would like to meet the current town clerk, which we agreed to. When we arrived on the designated afternoon at 2 p.m., the tourism bureau personnel were frantically looking for us. Unbeknownst to us, the bureau had set up a 2:30 meeting at the town council offices. The mayor (decked out in his ceremonial chains of office), the chief executive, the current town clerk and other dignitaries had assembled for a reception in our honor. A formal tea was held, and local newspapers covered the meeting.
Upon my arrival home, the tourism bureau contacted me with the name and phone number of an Irish relative who had read a newspaper story about the reception. The gentleman turned out to be a second cousin who had heard about possible Irish relatives in the United Stares. He lives on the same land where my great-grandparents lived and where my grandfather grew up. He supplied pictures of the ruins of the family home, as well as the tombstone where my great-great- and great-grandparents were buried. I supplied him pictures, along with the US history of the family. It turned out that a picture of my grandmother that I had sent was identical to one my relative owned but never could identify. My Irish relative is now expanding the Irish genealogy and doing a family tree.
Little did I know that a simple comment about my great-uncle would ever lead to such a bonanza of family information.
Robert T. Burrows
A HOST OF PROBLEMS
I enjoy finding the dates and places associated with my ancestors. My favorite part of family history, though, is filling in the bare facts with the stories that bring these people to life and help me feel as if) know them. Usually, I find nostalgic glorifications of how courageous and memorable these people were.
Recently, though, I found a different kind of insight into my ancestors Edmond and Eliza Harris, whom I had been researching for some time. I was excited to discover that someone who had known these forebears kept a journal. I eagerly began reading it, looking for references to my family. At last, I found them. The author wrote that he hoped never to stay with the Harris family again. Eliza was one of the dirtiest people he knew, and all Edmond did was “walk around grumping and growling like a bear with a sore head.”
Leslie Albrecht Huber
Postcard From the Past
I recently started collecting postcards of my home area of Ohio, mainly Gallia County. I had made several purchases in one week and waited patiently for them to come. One of these purchases depicted the old buildings of Rio Grande College, nestled in the hills of Gallia County. It has a rich history in which my family has played a part.
One day I opened my mailbox and discovered that I’d received a postcard I had ordered. I tore open the envelope by the side of the road. It was the Rio Grande College card.
I went into the house. The phone rang, so I laid the card on the table. It was my mother checking in on me. I had forgotten to call or stop by that day. I walked over to the table and picked up the card. I examined the front — the color was perfect. Then, while I was still talking to my mother, I read the address on the back. I couldn’t believe my eyes. “There was the name of a relative: Mrs. Von Miller, my great-great-aunt. With my mother talking in the background, I glanced at the postmark; it was Dec. 23, 1913, from Rio Grande College. Wow, an old card, in great shape. Just then, I spied the names on the bottom of the card: “Lewis and Minnie.” I let out a scream that Mom could have heard without the phone.
I told Mother the story of the postcard. She didn’t sound impressed, so I read the message to her. The signatures belonged to my great-grandparents. The 90-year-old postcard had found its way home to the senders’ great-granddaughter.
From the February 2004 Family Tree Magazine