Treasure Chest Thursday – The Discovery of a Lifetime

InezandBernard

I love google and use it in my genealogical research daily.  Not knowing how the search engines and all of their little robots crawlers worked I am often amazed and sometimes frustrated by the search results.  Today however, with the help of my good friend google, I have unearthed a family treasure.

While searching for information on “Horace Woodward Clarke” the following query was returned:

“Trying to identify a picture that may be a Clarke. Picture was taken in Stewartstown, York Co, Pa. No dates – no names. But with the pictures was this card: Mrs. Horace Woodward Clarke gratefully acknowledges with deepest appreciation your kind remembrance and sympathy. If you are interested you can e-mail me.”

My heart started pumping quickly and my palms got sweaty (genealogists can relate).  I scrolled to the end of the post and saw that it was dated November 2000.  Hmmm twelve years ago – I clicked the email listed and typed ”

“Hi there: I know that this is a stab in the dark, but I saw your posting from 2000 about the above photo.  If you are still around I would love to compare notes and assist you if I can.”

I stared at my inbox (for what felt like an eternity) waiting for the dreaded bounce back message.  Nothing….it must have been delivered and the address must still be valid.

After an exchange of emails and answering questions we verified that I was indeed related to the surnames in the photo album.  What is ironic is the holder of this album is in no way directly related to me nor any of the people in the album.  It had been inherited it from her Aunt who had passed away nearly ten years ago.

Keep in mind at this point I still had not seen any of the photographs in the album.  I just provided surnames and geographical information.  Just to make sure that we were on 100% certain photograph scans would be completed and sent to me.

On Monday morning while sitting at my desk an email came in from the email address (the album holder) that I now had memorized. The subject line read, “pictures.”  Now for the moment of truth.  I clicked on the email and the picture below was embedded:

Inez Bowlen & H. Bernard Gardiner

My jaw dropped as I was looking at the wedding photograph of my great grandmother and grandfather.  I am never this fortunate.  Must of my clues result in dead ends.  Today was a different story!

After identifying several other photo’s we knew that some how, some way that this phot album had once been in the hands of my ancestors.

We set a meeting to get together and view the album together.  I must confess that I did not get very much sleep the night before our meeting.  A million questions floated through my head as well as visions of dead ancestors dancing in my head.

On the day of our meeting we set around her dining room table.  Tears filled my eyes with each page I turned.  Familiar faces (and some unidentified) where staring back at me. Through deductive reasoning and inscriptions on the photo’s we concluded that in my hands was the family album of my three times great grandmother – Ann Frances Green Gardiner (1827-1902) .

Ann F. Green was the daughter of Giles T. Green (1803-1863 ) and Deborah Kirkwood (1802-1846).  had no idea . On the back of a photograph of a handsome man was written…To my Ann Frances Green from her father.

To Ann Frances Green from her Father

Now, after 20 years of researching, I can place a face to the name. Through the use of google’s Picaso Ablum I uploaded all of the photo’s and sent sharing requests to all living relatives that may 1. enjoy seeing the photo’s and 2. help identify some of the nameless faces. After combing our family trees we finally determined a connection between our two lines. Dot was the niece of my fist cousin twice removed husband.  The couple where childless and after they passed the sister of Clarence retained the album.  Dot would hold this album until her death in 1991 – over 25 years after the death of her brother.  It then went into the hands another family member who maintained the album for another 20 years.  This last holder of the album was the 1st great grand niece of husband of 1st cousin 2x removed.  How is that for a “distant” relative.  However distant the relation may be she is someone that I will always hold close to my heart.  She is a kind and generous soul, who gave my back my great grandmother’s photo album and the gift of a lifetime.

My daughter the writer…

Cait

I used to sit on the edge of your bed and watch you sleep. Tiny cherub face, strawberry blond curls falling loosely on your pillow. Your tiny nose kissed by the sun awash with freckles. I would wonder what life had in store for you. Where would this journey take you, and most importantly where did you want to go.

Today, a decade later, I find myself doing the same thing. The physical composition has changed, You have grown, matured and your journey has begun.I am so proud and privileged to be viewing your life unfolding before my eyes like the petals of a beautiful rose.

Most people go through life afraid, You Caitlin do not. I hope this is something that you embrace for the rest of you life. You have goals, aspirations and dreams. But most importantly you have the courage and the DNA to succeed.

Today I awoke, and realized that a piece of life’s puzzle has been placed. You, my daughter, are a writer. It was meant to be. You started writing in elementary school and mesmerized us with you tales and poetry. Truman Capote said “To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that the words make.”

Like all great writers your words have the power to take people on a journey. Virginia Woolf took us into a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway; Jane Austen’s words so real made us feel the pain of the Dashwood sisters life and loves and Louisa May Alcott who took a coming of age story about sisters’ turned the character “Jo March” into a witty, independent, real person.

I am excited about your journey and look forward to seeing the other pieces of the puzzle fall into place.

Keep writing, keep believing, never stop dreaming. You are my Jo March. It is only fitting that I conclude with the words of Mark Twain…”Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

Love,
Mom