Monday, July 18, 2011

The importance of tenacity and our regularly scheduled reminder to SHARE!! :) :)

As genealogists and family historians, I think I can safely say we are all very good friends with Frustration - a missing maiden name, the incorrect recording of dates or their total omission whatsoever, trying to read someone's chicken-scratch handwriting, the proverbial brick wall.

Sometimes, it's something obviously important, and so we're more tenacious in our pursuit of tracking it down. But the truth is, when it comes to family history research, it's all important. You never know what fact, however small or middle-sized it might be, will lead you to something potential brick wall-breaking.

Take my 3rd-great-grandmother, Meta Tiedemann Ricklefs. She is positively dying for her family to be known and she keeps reaching out to me in unexpected ways. She's the one who had the illegible town of birth on her marriage certificate, which I figured out was "Mittelstenahe" while I was at the family history conference in Charleston. Before that, I struggled for years to read that one tiny word on one of several records I had on her - but I had a somewhat narrow place in Germany, Hanover, and I had the names of her parents, John Henry Tiedemann and Meta Buckmann. With that info, I had actually found records that I believed led to THEIR parents using FamilySearch, and so I figured, why drive myself nuts trying to figure out this town name? I had other clues to follow. But the trail went cold. And even once I deciphered that chicken-scratch handwriting on her marriage certificate, the trail went nowhere. All I could determine was that there were a whole lot o' Tiedemanns who came from Mittelstenahe and who still live there.

But when an ancestor wants to be found, they will find ways to make it happen, if you help them...I wrote about my Mittelstenahe Tiedemanns in this blog. And a few weeks ago I got an email from a man living in Ohio whose family also came from the Mittelstenahe and Lamstedt area of Hanover and who had access to primary and secondary church records and state records and compiled genealogies on many of the families from that area. Including mine. And though we are only very distantly related, he sent me info on this line that for years has confounded me. In an instant, he had taken me back at least two more generations. And today he wrote me again - he had been kind enough to take the time to compile information on my Tiedemann line for me and email me a report that traced them back to the 1600s, completely annihilating that brick wall. There is still work for me to do, but he not only showed me where to look and pointed me in the right direction, but he gave me an outline to work from, and I am so grateful. That's part of our job - if we have the primary or secondary sources, we need to share them with those who don't have them. We want all our trees to be as accurate as possible, right? In an age when there is just so much bad information or even completely unsourced information circulating, it's our job to make sure the right information sees the light of day. It doesn't do anyone any good if its simply locked up on our personal hard drives.

So I have two points - SHARE! And don't give up or think that good is good information is enough if you have better information at your fingertips that requires a little work.

Now, Meta, if you could just help me find some more information on your sons John and Charles, I'd be a very grateful 3rd great granddaughter! :)

If you're in its path, stay cool during this heat wave everyone!!

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