It’s time to take a look back at my best genealogical finds of the year. Since I’ve been doing this for so long now (38 years, to be exact), I rarely have huge brick wall breakers, but I still get a thrill from steady progress and putting a few chinks in a wall here and there.
- New Year’s 2018 brought me a great gift. I have been working on my Coleman family for decades and, last year, had finally found a probate notice for him in Nantucket, Massachusetts. The family had moved to Orange County, New York after Joseph Coleman died of yellow fever off the coast of Guinea in 1775. However, the probate notice gave widow Eunice Coleman the option of completing probate in the spring of 1791 either in Nantucket or in New York. I hadn’t been able to find any actual administration in either place. However, a kind soul posted an image of a printed book page of the inventory of Joseph Coleman in Ulster County, New York, which is right next door to Orange County. I am not sure why probate was filed there (Orange County was formed in 1683), but, regardless, I went on to find the original probate images. My Joseph Coleman didn’t die in 1775! He may have died of yellow fever off the coast of Africa, but it was much later than 1775!
- 2018 was the year in which I learned much more about my Carpatho-Rusyn roots, which make up 50% of my family tree. Not only did I learn so much about the history, I learned enough about the social and cultural norms that I was able to answer a few questions about my Nana. Not only did I learn about my roots, I met Lisa and Jenny, fellow bloggers at Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in June. Lisa is a fellow Rusyn and – a huge surprise – Jenny’s husband is not only Rusyn, his roots are also in my grandmother’s small village of Udol, Slovakia! Just as much of a surprise was discovering that one of the ladies in the small (12 member) genealogy group that I teach mentioned that her Polish family lived in villages south of Cracow in the little “dip” in the Polish border. Guess what! Those villages are part of identified Carpatho-Rusyn settlements! What a small world it is.
- A reader told me about a medical dissertation written in the 1700s about my husband’s ancestor, Abraham Estermann, who survived for decades with a fractured skull! This definitely ranks as one of the more unusual family discoveries I’ve come across.
- Making contact with new fairly close (2nd-3rd) cousins. Family stories on my blog have brought me in contact with multiple cousins not very far removed from a common ancestor. It has been wonderful touching bases and updating the family tree. I wonder if family members long ago had any idea that their 2X, 3X or even 4X great grandchildren would find each after decades or centuries of no contact.
That’s my list. It’s my shortest one for the past few years, but meeting new cousins and learning about my Carpatho-Rusyn roots have been events happening over several months.
What were your best finds this year? Leave a comment, please.