17 Replies Latest reply on Jan 30, 2016 9:14 AM by Cheryl McClung

    What has been the most exciting "find" for you?

      Working on a genealogy project is often rewarding, but can be incredibly frustrating. Share an example of a discovery you made that keeps you going!

        • Re: What has been the most exciting "find" for you?
          Michael Pierce

          Doing some genie work for a friend, back in the day when you had to do a lot of traveling and read a lot of books. Was going through ships records for immigrants coming through NY harbor sometime in the mid-1800s. Found the name I was looking for. Right under it was the last name Springsteen. It was cool. I'm a geek.

          • Re: What has been the most exciting "find" for you?

            15 years ago, my family visited Register Cliff near Guernsey, Wyoming. Many Oregon Trail immigrants carved their names into the soft rock, as have later visitors. I was stunned to spot the name of an ancestor's sibling chiseled there. (The last name is very unusual, and the person lived in the area, so I'm pretty certain of the attribution.) I doubt I'll ever encounter anything as unique again.

            • Re: What has been the most exciting "find" for you?
              Thomas Richardson

              In the 8th grade, I was assigned to do a family tree project in my social sciences class. I had to establish lineage on both sides of our families going back at least four generations. While getting some information from my grandmother, she dropped an interesting comment: a distant uncle on her side had built General Nathaniel Lyon's coffin after the Battle of Wilson's Creek in 1861. I was intrigued and she directed me to my great-aunt who kept all the family documents and pictures in her attic. After going through the collection, I found some transcripts that revealed he was contacted by a lieutenant to build a zinc lined wooden coffin for the general.  What was even more fascinating was a Wilson's Creek reunion book from 1887 that mentioned him building a coffin; a major find I think!.  Some other stuff was in her collection, such as a family bible with a temperance certificate that nobody signed; not a big shocker according to my great-aunt.

              • Re: What has been the most exciting "find" for you?
                Ann Abney

                While I love my family genealogy on my Mom's side - we were kicked out of Massachusetts for having religious tolerance and instead founded Connecticut - my favorite find has nothing to do with my relatives.


                I found the story of this guy with an awesome name: Gazaway Bugg Lamar. A Georgia cotton farmer, he realized the Union Army was coming, and he better sign an oath of loyalty to the Union. Then he was arrested for suspicion of trying to assassinate Lincoln. And even though he had signed an oath, the Union ended up capturing his cotton. He ended up suing the Government for over $500,000 in government damages - and won.


                It is to date, the largest settlement by the U.S. Government to a private citizen for captured property. Holding the cheque for $579,343.51 has gotten to be one of the coolest pieces of history I've gotten to touch.

                • Re: What has been the most exciting "find" for you?
                  Meg Hacker

                  Prior to records being available on the Internet, I was helping an elderly friend locate herself on the 1920 Census on microfilm. Her family had been in Seattle for years and there was no reason why she would not be found there in 1920. Alas, she was not--in fact none of her family members were. This upset my friend to no end--where could she be? why wasn't her family there? It was quite sad to see her frustrations. On a whim, I asked about aunts/uncles. One lived in Chicago--so I looked there. Lo and behold--there her whole family was enumerated, well, everyone except for her father. I showed my friend the census page...and you could just see the flood of memories coming back to her. She remembered vividly her family staying several weeks with her aunt in Chicago that winter (the 1920 Census was taken in January) while her father was in Europe on military assignment. She was so relieved...and full of stories! While years have past and new and easier ways of researching have evolved, I will never forget her face as her memories of bygone decades came rushing to the surface. It is still quite an enjoyable memory.

                  • Re: What has been the most exciting "find" for you?

                    Growing up, we were always told that my great-grandfather had committed murder before moving to Louisiana in the late 1890's.  My cousin and I decided to try to prove/disprove this story.  We went to Rockford, Alabama to research in the courthouse there, only to learn that a fire had destroyed most of the records there.  We did find an indictment for murder in one of the surviving records but nothing after that.  After doing searches on his name and the word murder for over a year and a half, one day it popped up in the records of the Alabama Supreme Court.  This record gave us what we were looking for with the details.  Even though, it was proving that a relative had murdered someone, it was a breakthrough in our research.  It also proves that you should never give up, keep searching the internet and maybe that one record that you need will become available.

                    • Re: What has been the most exciting "find" for you?

                      I actually have 2 major moments from the Archives.


                      The 1st was in my g-g-grandfather's Civil War pension file - a letter from the American Consulate in Magda, Germany that proved his marriage in 1849 via a copy and translation of the church record in Bachra, Germany. This record included not only their names, but the names of their parents and occupations of all!


                      The 2nd was in an War of 1812 pension file. The wife had pulled the family record pages out of her Bible and sent them in to prove her marriage for a pension.

                      • Re: What has been the most exciting "find" for you?

                        I am in my 39th year of being an Ancient Tree Hugger. In 1820 the first Howard to be a Canadian was born.(not really for Confederation Day waited until 1867). Later, as an ordained minister he withdrew from the Church after some 15+/- years. He disappeared in 1850 with only a rumour left that he had moved to the USA tp became a medical doctor. He was missing in action until November 2015 when I found him, sort of, in Hinsdale Illinois where he died in 1886. I am hoping to locate his gravesite well before the next 39 years slip past us all..

                        • Re: What has been the most exciting "find" for you?


                          1. Finding my paternal great grandfather, who was an officer in the Confederate army.

                          2. Finding I had a genuine pirate for an ancestor.

                          • Re: What has been the most exciting "find" for you?

                            I have many examples but one that really had impact this past year was discovering my 2x gr-grandpa and grandma Shay's death dates. That let me order their death certificates from NY. I received both on the same day and they both contained the names of their parents in County Kerry, Ireland. I never expected to find their parents given the time period and the fact that they were very poor and didn't emigrate. A find like that gives me the idea that I might just find more about them or other ancestors from that generation.

                            • Re: What has been the most exciting "find" for you?

                              My uncle was KIA in 1943, shot down near Salerno, Italy. Thought I had everything, personal and military, I could possibly obtain on him including MACRS reports, etc. In 2013, while scanning letters I had between 2 surviving crew members & my grandfather (who sought as much information as possible about the day he was killed), I thought I'd search on these crew mates to see if I could find what became of them . In  an online search, I came upon a news article from 2 years prior regarding the Association Salerno, 1943- a group of individuals in Salerno, Italy dedicated to keeping the memories of and honoring those who died during the war. Per their website, "The Association is also involved in preserving the memory of the airmen that during the years of World War II crashed in southern Italy, tracking, identifying and reconstructing the history of their killing."


                              I was shocked to find, in reading an article, that they had actually found the wreckage of my uncle's B-17.

                              Immediately, I emailed Matteo Pierro, the group's member referenced in the article and got an almost immediate reply. He asked for what personal information I might share about my uncle and, in return, he had something for me. In less than a week, a box arrived on my doorstep from Italy. Inside was several fragments of the aircraft along with some shells (my uncle was a gunner) from the site. With these fragments I was able to make two shadow boxes- one for myself and, more importantly, one for my oldest brother. He is a Vietnam vet who has such fond memories of and continuing interest in my uncle and his experience. The generosity and dedication of the members of the Association Salerno 1943 continues to bring tears to my eyes.


                              Here is the link to their web page describing the finding of the B-17 la fortezza volante B-17 . At the very bottom, is the material I shared regarding my uncle. The family picture shown is of my parents, my uncle and his wife, and- that little boy my mother is holding- my oldest brother.

                              • Re: What has been the most exciting "find" for you?

                                Among my most exciting discoveries are those concerning my 2x-great-grandfather, Samuel Kailing. He had long been my brick wall. I didn't know his parents' names or even his exact birthplace. With different sources listing different locations from Germany, Austria, and Hungary, it was always confusing to say the least. But a discovery of his U.S. naturalization record gave me the clue I needed!


                                At first I thought the record was just another contradiction because it listed his birthplace as Bukowina, Hungary, while the place passed down through our family was Jacobena, Germany. But when I looked up Bukowina (aka Bucovina in Romanian), I found it was a region, not a town, and that it was part of Austria-Hungary (so the Austria and Hungary clues weren't actually contradictory with the rest, given the history of Europe) but is now part of Romania. On a hunch, I looked up Jacobena to see if there was a town by that name in Bukowina. Turns out Jacobena is the German spelling of Iacobeni, a town in the Bucovina region! On top of that, there was a German population in Iacobeni, and it was a mining town--both of which are consistent with Samuel's being German and a miner. On top of that, I discovered Iacobeni's website with lots of pictures of the town! It's beautiful, and Samuel's final destination, West Virginia, is very reminiscent of it.


                                The next discovery came inadvertently as I was searching for Samuel's wife's naturalization records. I didn't find hers (yet), but I did find those of Erno Keiling (yes, different surname spelling, but that's an entirely different story!) who emigrated from Europe with Samuel in 1907. I'd known that Erno was related to Samuel somehow, but I wasn't sure if he was his cousin or his brother. Curiously, the year of Erno's arrival, as listed on his naturalization record, was 1910 not 1907. Plus the ship he came over on was a different ship than the 1907 voyage. This told me that he must have returned to Europe for a period of time before coming back to America to stay.


                                Erno's arrival date in 1910 was listed as "on or about the 21st day of April," so using that date and the ship's name, I started looking for the passenger list. Turns out the ship he was on did not arrive in New York on the 21st of April, so I looked through the other April days until I found the right ship--on April 19. So I began looking through the passenger list (all 95-pages of it!) until, lo and behold, on page sixty-something, there he was! Erno Keiling!


                                I eagerly began reading across his entry, to see if there was a clue to his relationship to Samuel. I learned that Erno had, in fact, been to the U.S. before in 1907, confirming that I was looking at the right person. And the answer to one question said that Erno was coming to stay with Samuel Kailing--his BROTHER!!! Another question asked the name of the passenger's closest living relative in the country from "whence they came." In tiny cursive writing, the answer given--"Mother. Keiling, Maria." MARIA!! There it was--right in front of me--proof that Erno was Samuel's brother and that his mother's name was Maria! You can imagine my excitement! Of course, it is possible that the two had different mothers (they were almost 15 years apart), but hey--this was a bigger lead than I'd had in a long time. And if you're looking for a needle in a haystack, it helps at least to have a haystack...and now I have one.

                                • Re: What has been the most exciting "find" for you?
                                  Amanda Dotson

                                  My most exciting find has been an Ellis Island passenger record for an Irish cousin that finally proved beyond a doubt the connection between my great-great grandmother and her family back in Ireland.  Until then I was sure I had found her parents and siblings in newspaper and parish records, but there were some first names and dates that varied between the Irish and American sources.  I had found a message board post naming a possible brother and while I was never able to get in contact with the poster, I was able to independently research and verify the info provided in that post to trace the brother's family so that I could try to find a connection.  It was through researching him that I was able to find the places the family lived in Dublin (and to know that they had originally been in Mayo), and find out when their parents died and where they were buried.  The particular passenger list that finally provided the proof I needed was for a son of this brother, in which my great-great grandmother (under her married name, so I was extra sure) was named as an aunt living in America.  Seeing her name and the town I knew she lived in listed on that page as the aunt of this young Irishman coming to America was exactly the type of proof I had hoped to find.

                                  • Re: What has been the most exciting "find" for you?

                                    I was shocked last week to find that two of my ancestors served together in the same regiment in Jackson County Georgia in the war of 1812 several generations before their descendants met in Hiram GA and married and had my father.

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