Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What You Can Do With 20 Minutes

Quite often, I'll find myself up early in the morning - after a quick check of blog posts in my reader and Facebook messages from my fellow genealogists, I'm faced with a few uncommitted minutes before I need to get ready for work. This is when I will turn to my family tree on and select one of those leaves that tells me I have a hint or two about someone in my tree.

That's what happened yesterday morning as I checked the information on the siblings of my great grandmother. I didn't have much information on one of her brothers whose last entry was the 1930 census in Sheridan, Wyoming. I turned to Google, typed in his name and "Sheridan Wyoming." Among the first hits was a reference to his burial at the Sheridan Municipal Cemetery. There were several other people buried there with the same surname.

Next step: There were listings for him and his wife. I clicked. There was a photo of their tombstone, with the years of their births and deaths. There was one other name on the stone - that of their son. And there was room for a fourth name, not yet added.

I entered this information on Ancestry. I returned to Google and entered the name of the son. These search results told me that his wife just died in April of this year at the age of 90. There were several references to online obituaries for this relative who Ancestry informed me is the wife of my first cousin, twice removed. I clicked. There was her beautiful, smiling face, from her younger years, on the screen.

Her obituary told me where she lived when she died, when and where she was born, the names of her parents, the high school and college she attended (and the years), the date she married her husband, the names of her children and grandchildren, names of her brother and sister, where she attended church, a story of how she helped her husband through five battles with cancer, and her 45 year career in nursing.

Her obituary states that she enjoyed her achievements and worked hard with her husband to create a complete, balanced and very happy life for her family.

Her name is the one waiting to be placed on the tombstone that is pictured on FindAGrave.

That's what I was able to learn in just under 20 minutes yesterday morning. Twenty minutes gave me three generations of a family I knew nothing about when I started.

Note: because this woman's death is so recent, I have opted not to list any names here out of respect for the privacy of her and her immediate family. To write such a wonderful obituary, it strikes me that there is a lot of love and respect there and it sounds like she was a much loved and respected woman.


  1. I would say "what a great post" but that would make me a Stepford Genealogists wouldn't it?!?!

    It is a great lesson in not wasting time - because those few minutes can yield great returns when put to good use.

    Thanks (and we can sing kumbayah late ;-)

  2. What an exciting find. I love it when everything comes together like this. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wow, you hit the jackpot. What I especially like about this post is your process. Gee, all I have to do is what you did (don't even have to think about the process). But, if I could be as lucky for results. Nice post Susan.

  4. Thanks for the comments, ladies. I guess I should have also mentioned there are many mornings when I find absolutely NOTHING! The process on this one was so magical, I had to share. Diana - a Stepford Genealogist? That's funny!

  5. Great story on what you can do with a few minutes of time and a little perserverance.

  6. Great story! My problem is that I can't stop at 20 minutes! I look up and HOURS have passed! LOL