Woodland Cemetery - Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
(photo courtesy of findagrave.com by Miriam McDonald)
2 April 2017
I’m home from a Florida vacation with fresh eyes, renewed ambition, and the genealogy bug is nibbling at me. The bug is easily fed by opening my large ancestry.com file to just about anywhere and I’ll find hints in the form of leaves flying in the virtual wind. This time I was given an email nudge from a fellow researcher. I don’t know her other than she is a kindred spirit who belongs, as do I, to ancestry.com and findagrave.com.
In this case Rosemary was snapping photos of tombstones in cemeteries in Ontario. (When will I ever get to Ontario? Probably never. What a boon the Internet is to genealogists.) As well as adding her photos to the database at ‘Find a Grave’ she did a search for these particular ancestors on ancestry.com and notified me of the photos she’d posted. How wonderful that she went the extra mile.
The odd thing is that I couldn’t find those ancestors on my rather mammoth three. As of this morning there are 44,228 entries. Subsequently, I wrote back to Rosemary to thank her for contacting me but that I couldn’t find those Canadians in my family. She wrote back immediately saying that these ancestors were on ‘Rachel’s Tree.’ Mystery solved. Over the years I’ve put together family trees for various friends and loved ones and there they sit on my account with little or no attention.
These Canadians of long ago on my friend Rachel’s tree are not my family. The question to myself is – do I spend my time on them or ignore the information and go directly to my tree? What is the most productive and most satisfying use of my time? (As we get older that is a question we ponder more and more. I had, after all, just turned my Outlander calendar to April 2017 – what time I have left, whether it be less than 1 year or more than 25, is slipping quickly away.) I opted for Rachel’s tree which seems rich with Scottish Protestants who immigrated to Canada in the early part of the 19th century. How exciting. I can see those woolen garbed Scots with their heavy brogue immigrating to the cold north – a climate to which they were not unaccustomed. What adventurous souls. Were they excited? Scared? In awe of what they dared to do?
Rachel, whose tree I hadn’t looked at in eons, had lots of green leaves flying. I dwelt among them with the new information, mostly recent cemetery photos, for a couple of hours doing updates. Later that day as I was walking Beatrice, my Coton de Tulear whose dog ancestors hale from Madagascar, we stopped at Rachel’s for a chat. In her eighties, with no known living relatives, Rachel was delighted and most surprised to hear that a stranger had contacted me about her ancestors long buried in Canadian ground. Soon she’ll come over to take a look at her enriched tree. Was it a good use of my and Rosemary’s time. Absolutely.