C1 and I have been doodling with ancestry.com for a couple of years now. The Hauck Family Tree has full branches but The Marshall Tree is missing major limbs so we need to get on that soon. Whenever we find a new leaf waiting with a clue, we get excited. This week was a bonanza for us. We had a message waiting for us full of historical information from one of my relatives who will reach 90 years young in just a few weeks. Her name is Ginger Cable and she lives just outside of San Diego. How did she find us? Because we posted a picture of C1 and I in front of her father’s grave in Madison, Kansas on our family tree and she saw it. Ginger wanted to know who those strange people were at her dad’s gravesite and we wanted to know her secret to keeping up with technology and social media at her age. Ginger’s dad — Harry Horn– is my great-grandfather’s, Charles Horn, younger brother. Several months ago on a return trip from Kansas, we took a side journey out into Flint Hills to find Harry’s grave. I had a picture of what the plot was suppose to look like well adorned with an impressive spiral monument. I couldn’t figure out how a man of little means, who died at only 32 years of age, leaving behind a wife and three young children, would have such an impressive grave marker. I knew the family was poor as were most farmers and small town folk in those years. Think Great Depression, think dust bowl, think middle America. I knew Harry had died in Texas working and had been buried back in Madison, his hometown. From research, I found cause of death was TB after serving his country during WW I and starting his family.
The detour last summer took us about 60 miles out of our way, added two hours to our trip time and I wondered if it was worth it at the time. What we found out in the middle of nowhere, at a very pretty and well maintained country cemetery, was that the marker on Harry’s grave was modest as expected and the monument we pictured was situated on a grave of someone not related to my clan. It was a disappointment at the time but C1 and I learned that primary and secondary sources are always best in genealogy research. We have often discovered that the data on ancestry.com is inaccurate and down right wrong so you have to proceed with caution and use multiple data points along the way or you can quickly go astray.
But then the sweet, informative note from Ginger arrived and we are adding information to the tree about what happened to her Mom, her sisters, and now her four sons. The tree just grew some new, strong branches to explore. I found a first cousin, twice-removed, living a wonderful, full life in sunny California who wants to know about her dad’s crazy family that she left behind many years ago. I hope to meet her one day and swap stories and share memories.
Sometimes when you think you have wasted time, you find that it pays big dividends later. So take time to explore when you have the chance. Her 90th birthday bash is in July. Should I go?