“Do it yourself.” We’ve all heard that phrase before… and chances are, we’ve probably said it a few times ourselves as well. There are times where we do need to do something without the assistance of others and such is the case with genealogy reseach. Don’t get me wrong, I have several contacts that I go to for help at times and I’ve equally returned the favor or paid it forward just as many times, but there are times when, for whatever reason, you’re left “out in the cold” so to speak and such was the case for me today.
I love Facebook. It’s a great way to expand your contact base for so many things and without facebook, the topic of tonight’s blog post would have never happened. I saw that my friend Kristine had made a comment on a certain business’s Facebook page. Normally, I wouldn’t pay any attention to such a post, but I happened to glance at the name of the person who made the comment right before her. The woman’s name was Chris Schommer. Now, normally I’d just click on her profile and send her a message explaining who I am and inquiring if she might think we were related; however, that plan didn’t work this time since her privacy settings are such that she doesn’t allow messages from non-friends. Instead of sending her a friend request, which I suspected might go ignored, just to send her a message, I reached out to our mutual friend Kristine. I explained why I couldn’t message Chris myself and asked if she could message her on my behalf with all the info I knew of Ann Schommer, my grandmother Betty’s aunt, and ask for info about her Schommers. Unfortunately, Kristine replied that she didn’t know Chris well enough to be comfortable messaging her. That’s definitely not how I would feel in that situation, but I totally respect her feelings. So now what? All I know is her name (I assumed her given name was Christine) and (thanks to Facebook) where she is originally from and the city where she now lives. This type of seach has an extra layer of difficulty since she’s a woman. Is she married? If she is, this is likely her husband’s surname… and I have no first name for him. If she isn’t, my search is a bit easier. But I go with the odds that she is and begin my search. Tonight I gained a whole new respect for the phrase “google it”. Really, what other options did I have? She could possibly be in the phone book separately from her husband, but if they didn’t put him as an “associated with”, I still wouldn’t know his name, which I would need to place them in my GEDCOM. So I googled her full name and the city where she now resides. And I did find a whitepages entry. A Christine Schommer lives with a man named Terrance. Assuming that this is her husband, I attempted googling him since he isn’t located in the database of families who settled in our area. CHA CHING! I was able to locate the obituary of Terrance’s mother which, of course, listed his father’s name. Thankfully, his father is listed in our local database. Now all I need to do is connect his father George to my great great aunt Ann. Thankfully, that was easy because everyone required to make the connection is in the database and the database has a “relationship” button. Turns out that his great grandfather was the uncle of my great-great aunt which would make Terrance Ann’s first cousin twice reomoved.
FInding living relatives is a feeling like none other, especially when that person is a person who I didn’t even know existed before coming across them. This feeling was amplified even more given the fact that I was able to find the connection between two people without the assistance of others and very little information to start with and I’m so glad I had this experience.
…Someone’s going to remind me of this feeling the next time I’m pulling my hair out, right?