Saturday, March 16, 2013

Private Collection Reveal

I was watching the YouTube versions of some webinars this week  . In Discovering the Immigrants in Your Family Tree (embedded at bottom of post), the speaker was talking about four key facts you have to have about your immigrant ancestor before hoping over the ocean and digging in the new location. It is one of those lists that seem obvious and self-evident once someone else has put it down for you. But while you are in the thick of it, easy to miss. The desire to leap ahead is always so tempting. The speaker Mr. Kory L Meyerink, had this to say in the beginning of the video to be successful about going from new resident country back to old resident country:

completely identify the immigrant by obtaining:
  • Name (in their native tongue)
  • Date of a key event in the old country (such as birth or marriage)
  • Names of close relatives - sibling, aunt, etc
  • Specific town where he lived in old country
Those four main points were really his key message. I recommend watching the whole thing as he answers questions and explains how and where to obtain those four things. You need these bits to give you your search terms (names), to help you disambiguate people (dates and family units), and the last --biggie here--to know where to look (the town). I'll likely have to do a series of posts on my successes and failures on going from new country to old country. Perhaps writing it down will give me some focus and re-ignite the fire. 

About two-thirds of the way through he mentioned funeral home records as a resource. He stressed that they are private collections but if you can get at them, they can be very valuable. Hah! I gave myself a little pat on the back because 
about three weeks prior I had contacted the funeral home that handled the burial of my 2nd great grandfather. 

Maybe I should rewind- I contacted the funeral home chain that had bought several funeral home chains, one of which had bought the funeral home I was concerned with. I found myself looking at tax and business records trying to determine the chain of custody the original funeral home to guess the chain of custody for the documents I cared about. I had to bank much on potential since I wasn't sure that such documents 1) ever existed  2) been kept 3) been passed along as the businesses merged. Once I had found the mega-funeral home chain, I filled in the pertainant information about my request into a web form and crossed my fingers. 

Yesterday I got a call from Nancy of the mega-funeral home chain. She had found something and she'd pop it in snail mail. In her message, she even said,  "Bet you never thought you'd get a call back, hunh?" Honestly, I hadn't expected anything but I had hoped. Perhaps Nancy is a family historian as well helped a fellow researcher in need. Thanks, Nancy!

I am reserving time to watch the rest of the series. Oh and BTW, is having a contest and the prize is a trip to Ireland called Coast to Castle. Like them on Facebook and then enter.

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