It seems like eons ago, but before my health and life intervened and stomped upon my genealogical pursuits, I had told you about my mysterious great-grandfather and BlackSheep ancestor, Arthur B. Alexander, who disappeared back in 1927, leaving his wife and two daughters in Hobart, Oklahoma. I had always taken Arthur’s disappearance in stride since his mother, Lucy Zook Alexander, had also eluded my grasp for many years. I was beginning to attribute the entire lineage to genetics in a wanderlust sort of way.
Not anymore. I found Lucy!
I celebrate this Fabulous Friday post with sheer joy and yes, a bit of rapture, at this new development. I’ve found people with accompanying documentation back in the 1630s before. How I could not have found my own great-great grandmother was just plain silly. Sheepishly, I admit that I had given up finding her. However, I had forgotten two very important tenets of genealogy
1. There IS a reason it’s called REsearch. Another blogger said this in a post I read recently, and it’s a huge, huge reminder of why we do what we do. It’s particularly applicable to those of us from the snail mail days, the dial-up modem racing to Compuserve era, and the countless backroom favors granted by the friendly county clerk brigades. This grand experience of tracing our family history has come so far, and changes faster than my teenager’s moods. So much information is “out there” now, and we must not forget to check again – and again – and again – to re-research those ancestors and brick walls we have put aside for another day. I had done this with my Lucy, wondering if I would ever find out what happened to her.
2. Let your ancestors speak to you. I don’t necessarily mean in a creepy, horror movie kind of way, although I have heard some interesting “coincidences” over the years. Recording old family stories may not just be for the preservation of the interviewed and cherised relative, but it may lead you directly to the information you seek. We’ve all heard about the “three immigrant brothers”, the “Cherokee Indian blood” we might have, and countless other genealogical myths. I’ve been fortunate to have communicated with relatives well into their 80s and 90s who have not only shared information and answered many of my questions, but have done so with uncanny accuracy. Not all of our elders are capable of this, but apparently mine were. Still, I have always taken their “reminiscences” with a heavy grain of salt, at least until I have the certified document to prove it.
Lucy’s grand-niece, or Aunt Eva, as I have always called her, told me time and time again in our many letters back and forth that Lucy was buried in LaHarpe in Hancock County, Illinois. Lucy’s other niece told my cousin during a personal visit that Lucy was buried near Augusta, Illinois, also in Hancock County. I could find no information online to verify either one of these ladies’ stories, and had yet to travel to Hancock County personally to try to obtain any record of Lucy’s death. It was partly due to not knowing when Lucy had died, or if she had died at all or had been involved in a divorce. I had only been able to pinpoint a time period of between 1900 (after the census was taken) and 1907 when Lucy’s husband, Charles, was married again and living in Oklahoma. Lucy had disappeared sometime during that seven-year period. Seven years can be a very long time in genealogical terms, and I couldn’t make a case one way or another. Yet it stuck in my head that both of these ladies repeated the information they remembered.
On a break the other night from doing a little client work, and I thought of Lucy again.
Imagine my shock when I saw this entry (without the photo - wink) the other day at www.FindAGrave.com: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Alexander&GSfn=Lucy&GSbyrel=all&GSdy=1901&GSdyrel=in&GSst=16&GScntry=4&GSob=n&GRid=51282211&df=all&
You also might have heard my squeals of delight when I came upon this item shortly thereafter: http://hancock.illinoisgenweb.org/cemeteries/pulaski/pulaskicemetery.pdf
Several page rotations, neck stretches, and 104 pages later, I found Lucy Alexander – listed along with her mother, Louisiana Mick Zook, in a cemetery plot owned by Charles Alexander. My cousin, Mary Elizabeth, was sweet enough to travel to Pulaski Cemetery and take these photos the next day, and sent them on so they could be posted online.
There was my long-lost Lucy, right where those ladies said she would be.
So, remember to RE-search, and then research some more. And listen to your ancestors. They just might be trying to tell you something...fabulous.