Serendipity & Genealogy

But for a twist of fate, I likely would not have become captivated by the search for my family’s ancestors. 

A colleague well known for his genealogy research and newspaper columns was retiring from the university where I work. We had occasionally had shared work ideas over lunch, so I offered to treat him to a farewell lunch at the spot of his choice.  At the last minute, he couldn’t make it.  Some months later, we were able to reschedule lunch and conversation.

On a whim, knowing his genealogy interests outside of work, I decided to plug some family surnames into a Google search. This might give us an added topic for our lunch conversation. I was intrigued with the first clues that I discovered. When you find a little, you will often want to get just a bit more, to clarify a fact here or a relationship there. And then again more. You’re hooked!

We enjoyed lunch, including conversation about one ancestor he simply had been unable to find. Little did I know then that I would have a key ancestor like that as well… a classic brick wall situation.

The colleague was Terrence Day, and some of his helpful genealogy columns are online. For a collection of more than 65 of them under the heading The Family Tree from the Tri-City Herald in Washington, click here.  Among the many topics Terry covers in those columns is immigration entry points and records.  See Oct. 15, 2000, for that column.

He also has written about the elusive ancestor, his great-grandfather John Day, in a more recent column.  Remarkably, the family has been trying to understand John Day’s origins since at least 1941.  And here is a listing of some of Terry’s more recent genealogy articles for the paper.

This is my small way of saying “thanks, Terry” for all the years you were a fine colleague — and for the inspiration for launching my own genealogy research.

Published in: on October 25, 2006 at 6:46 am  Leave a Comment