Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Family History Writing Challenge - Find A Grave Discovery

Here is my story for The Family History Writing Challenge 
for day 17.  This weekend has been a difficult time for writing, so much going on.  Maybe next week I will get back in the groove.  

My eighteen year old son and I spent a lot of time this summer photographing graves.  We put 4,531 grave photos on Billion Graves and we put 3,357 grave photos and 2,520 memorials on Find A Grave.  It was work, but we enjoyed it so much, even in the upper 90 degree temperatures.  We felt like we were giving back.

 I found a memorial for my Uncle John on Find A Grave.  It was a military grave located in Oregon.  It didn't have a photo on the memorial.  I put in a request for a photo on the site and by that evening I had the photo of his grave.   I probably would never have made it there to get the picture myself.  We knew there were people in other parts of the country looking for graves located in Indiana.  This was our opportunity to help.  

A few months later, I noticed a message on my Find A Grave account.  I had a person thanking me for taking the photos, and making the great memorial.  Well, this memorial happened to be a memorial for my mother's Aunt Luella.  I had put a few pictures of her there, in addition to the grave photo.  I was very curious then, who was this person thanking me for putting my great aunt's memorial up?  

I sent back a message asking if she was related to Luella, and if so what was her connection.  She told me that Luella's second husband was her grandfather's brother.  Well, that connection was not that great, but her next statement was, I have Luella's son's phone number if you would like to contact him.  

Luella's youngest son was still living!  I had information on him in my tree.  I knew he was about 85, but I didn't know he was still living.  She said she would contact him and see if it was okay to pass on his phone number.  The next day she gave me his phone number.  

I called my mom's cousin, Paul.  When I started talking to him and told him my mother was his cousin.  I said I was Shirley Hoover's daughter.  He immediately came back with my mother's married name, and said you mean Shirley Plummer.  He knew my mother!  She was older, but they lived next door to each other at one time.  He knew my grandfather, my great grandmother, and many members of my family on a personal basis.  

He then asked if I had talked to his nephew who was 82 years old.  He said Jim would have many things to talk about to and gave me his number.  Jim's mother had died with tuberculosis when he was eight months old, he was raised by my mother's other aunt.  My great-grandmother had lived with him the last few weeks of her life.  

Our contribution to find a grave has connected me with people that I had in my tree.  I had no idea if they were alive or how to find them.  Jim has sent my some great pictures and told me several wonderful stories.  Paul hasn't gone through his pictures yet, but plans to send me some soon.  He has written to me.   I so enjoy talking to both of these men.  They knew the people in my tree and make them come to life for me.  The stories that they tell make the people so real to me and I have begun to feel like I knew them.

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