The theme for this month’s Genealogy Blog Party with Elizabeth O’Neal at My Descendant’s Ancestors is Saying Thanks.
Genealogy is definitely my obsession and it has been for most of the past 38 years. As I first started down the rabbit hole, there were three family members who encouraged my research and who provided accurate details about ancestors, both direct and collateral, back four generations to my 2X great grandparents.
Grandmother (Hazel Ethel Coleman Adams), my mother’s mother, not only shared details about her own family, but also knew my grandfather’s family as well. Grandfather died in 1968, long before I was bitten by the genealogy bug.
Grandmother & Me, c1957 in Maine
From her, I learned about my seafaring Coleman family and my Danish great grandmother’s family. I also learned about the Adams seafaring traditions and my extensive Canadian cousin connection.
Nana (Julia Scerbak Sabo), my father’s mother, knew just as much about her own family, which took me back to my 2X great grandparents on that side of the family. She knew the Slovak villages where the family lived and put me in touch with various cousins who also settled in New Jersey.
Nana & Me, c1956
Nana didn’t know the ancestral village for the Sabo side of the family, but she remembered married names and husbands of my grandfather’s siblings. More importantly, she was the one who told me the family name was NOT Sabo, it was Kucharik!
The third family member who was most enthusiastic about my new hobby was my grandfather’s cousin, Charles Adams Chadwick. He was my 1st cousin, twice removed, but because the family was small, he remained in touch with everyone throughout his lifetime.
Charles is the person who decided that I would be the next generation caretaker of our treasured family pictures, which date back to the late 1840s.
Making progress on the family tree would have been much more difficult without the knowledge that Charles and each of my grandmothers shared with me. Family stories would have been lost to time without them. Remember, this was long before the internet.
Next, I need to say thanks for FamilySearch and the staff at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
My friend, Ruth Maness, who worked at the FHL for many years and who passed away in June 2017, made sure that I was going to break through my Danish brick wall. She encouraged me, gave me suggestions and helped me read literally hundreds of pages of Danish military lists and church registers. She was right – eventually the brick wall crumbled. Other staff members have been equally supportive and they excel at what they do.
In addition, FamilySearch keeps getting better every day. The number of records available from home is astronomical and even more can be accessed locally at family history centers. A huge THANK YOU goes out to all the volunteers who made it possible.
Third on the thank you list is all the speakers who record genealogy webinars viewed online. Whether access is by subscription or offered free when broadcast live, there would be no webinars without all the talented, expert speakers who create and share their programs.
I could go on, thanking others, but I will end with saying thanks to my ancestors, particularly the ones who suffered more adversity than usual, but survived. Here are a few of them:
George Soule, who survived the Mayflower voyage in 1620 and the first terrible winter
Sibbel Shepley, only child orphaned at 2 years old when her parents died in a summer pestilence in 1757, Pepperell, Massachusetts
Johannes Jensen, given up for adoption at the age of 2 days, born in 1810 in the unwed mother’s hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
Frits Wille Oscar Emil Jensen, who moved his family to America in 1884 for a better life, only to have his wife die in 1890 and both of his children in 1916, leaving him alone with no other relatives.
John Adams, Loyalist, who left extended family, friends and a comfortable life in Fairfield County, Connecticut in 1783, eking out a life as a fisherman, squatting on Adams Island, New Brunswick, Canada
Elizabeth Knapp, who exhibited signs of being possessed by the devil, but was not hanged as a witch
All of my Slovak families – Kucharik, Repka, Kacsenyak, Haluska, Scerbak, Murcko, Patorai, Szova and others – who were strong enough to survive peasant life, political strife, high infant mortality and constant epidemics, which decimated their villages.
There is much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving!