July 18, 2013
The other day,I was thinking about some of my genealogy search journeys, specifically one that I have been on for several years now--tracking the descendants of my paternal great-grandparents.
To back up a bit, my father was old enough to be my grandfather, so there are two generations of space between our ages. As a consequence, he was always telling ancient family stories about people that were not still alive. I know I probably did not connect with some of the stories or remember them very well because I never had met the people concerned. But the stories I did remember kicked in and played like tapes in my mind after my father’s death. How I wished I could have tapped his brain for more! As a result, I found myself simmering in an undercurrent of nagging curiosity. What happened to these five boys of my great-grandparents? The pictures I have of each of them do not begin to tell the tale.
So, like a bloodhound, I began to track them and their families as they left their home nest in Story County, Iowa, one by one.
Abel W. – the oldest, originally born in Ohio, grew up in Iowa. He took his young family to Wyoming, then to Colorado, and ended up at Fort Scott, Kansas. We visited the genealogy society library in Fort Scott, which housed a treasure trove of local information, and also found his gravesite.
William C. – next in line, had a grocery store in Collins, Iowa with his brother (my grandfather). He also lived in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and then back in Iowa, where he is buried in the same cemetery as his parents. His son Morris, who I never knew existed, had problems with the law. He was jailed, later released, and eventually died in a train yard accident. (Why would my father have not told me this, except the accident happened 10 years before I was born?) I knew about one of William’s daughters, but not the other, who I found taught school, had married three times and lived in Iowa, Missouri, and finally, Michigan.
George H. – moved from Iowa to the Kansas City area. His first wife died, and he remarried to begin a second family, who stayed in this area.
John C. (my grandfather) – also lost his first wife and their children, married again and had six children who lived long lives and moved to a farm in northwest Missouri where they ended up staying, and where I grew up.
Evan L. – the youngest, moved from Iowa to southern Missouri, and though I found that another genealogist listed his death date, there was no place noted. This was oddly unsettling. I searched and searched and finally found that he had moved to Denver, where he spent his last years and is buried.
So now, I have those boys and many of their families accounted for and feel much more at peace about them. As more information is available digitally with optical character recognition and more records accessible all the time, I don’t doubt I will turn up more. That remains to be seen.
My intense curiosity has paid off! I can finally begin to put them to rest in my mind with many of my questions answered. It has been a fun and enlightening journey trying to uncover more about them and getting to know about them. In the process, I have come to realize that this wondrous quality of curiosity is behind every genealogist’s burning desire to know more. It is most certainly a quality we should all encourage in our younger generations so that the questions get asked while there is still someone around who can answer them, and if not, to forge ahead on our own to discover from the abundance of sources available to us today.
Midwest Genealogy Center