Genealogy Tip O’ the Day – The Case for Being Impulsive.
I guess I should begin this genealogy tip with a caution that I said ‘impulsive’ not ‘repulsive’! 🙂
I know we cannot always be as impulsive as we wish when working on our genealogy. I get that. It is not always possible to discover some luscious tidbit of information and run off to the library, archive, relative’s home, car, train station, or airport to follow up as we’d so often love to. Nor can we impart our sense of urgency and excitement onto another when we are hoping for an email or letter response to an inquiry we have made. I fully understand everyone’s lives are filled with demands and focuses that we, as outsiders, rarely are privy to.
But let me just say this: there are times when allowing ourselves to be a bit impulsive can pay us HUGE dividends.
Let me give you just a couple of examples of when impulsivity resulted in huge gains for me in my personal genealogy.
I’d been working on my Czech genealogy when I came across one of our rarer surnames: Knechtl. I began to research this particular cousin when I came across some contact information on the Internet. So I sent off what I call my usual ‘Letter of Introduction’. I actually keep it as a form on my computer so I can simply fill in the blanks with the appropriate names, dates, requests, and then get it out into the mail with ease.
As luck would have it, I received a positive response to my letter and the additional news regarding the fact this cousin’s mother was well versed in family history. As soon as I heard this I blurted out that I was going to be in town in two weeks on business and would love to meet! The silence on the other end of the phone was deafening for quite some time before I heard a rather meek response of ‘well, ok.’
We met at a public place (actually a church) since the elder member of the family, while interested in family history, was not quite sure what to make of a second cousin who seemed to just come out of the woodwork. Our get together began with the two of my cousins on one side of a large banquet table and me on the other. On their side they had a large dress box filled with photographs and newspaper clippings. On my side I had my laptop with our family tree. As I laid out my findings of how we were related, I could see in the elder cousin’s eyes she was more than a bit leery and was carefully taking my measure.
By the end of the two hours I had allotted in my schedule we were sitting arm-in-arm and she was pleading with me not to go! Now years later we are still close friends, they joined us in celebrating my mother’s 90th birthday, and the younger cousin, a minister, conducted the graveside service for my parents.
My next example took me a bit farther away. Actually across the ocean!
I had been working on my Cornish genealogy and my Phillipps family, when quite by accident I made the acquaintance of a researcher in Cornwall who was working on a major World War I project in the hometown of my grandfather. We been working together for some months when she emailed me and said ‘I’ve found your cousins! The descendants from your great-grandmother Phillipps. And they have pictures!’ This time it took me two emails before I impulsively wrote ‘I have a meeting in London in a month. If I can get away for the weekend can I come visit?’ This time there was no hesitation and the response was a hearty ‘absolutely’!
I made my way from London down to Cornwall and not only met my research partner, but spent every waking minute with my newly found cousins! We raced from parish to parish, from churchyard to churchyard, and from small town to small town as we met every available cousin they could find for me!
Now just two years later and two of those cousins have passed away and I count my blessings every single day that I made the time and commitment to get there to meet them. The richness they added to my life is beyond measure.
On the other side of the coin, I made telephone contact with the wife of another cousin. She shared with me marvelously and generously. Without her knowledge I never would have known our Botin surname had been changed from Bohutinsky. I always meant to get to see her. I should have been impulsive! Why? Because she called me one day and said ‘I have great news, Scott! I am moving…..home to Serbia!’ Needless to say…I blew that one, big time!
That time I sure should have been more impulsive and seen her when I could!
So be bold, be impulsive and go for the genealogy gusto every time you can!
Onward To Our Past®