Last week I had the privilege of traveling to Colorado and visiting with Alice. She is my grandma’s first cousin and was born in 1920. Her dad, Charles Edward Tracy, was my great grandfather, John Wesley Tracy’s, younger brother. Alice was a genealogist before internet research and she had a treasure trove of records and pictures to share with me. She has boxes of binders and boxes of books just full of research that she has worked on over the last countless years. Before you could get online and just type in your search terms in a Genealogy Search Engine like Ancestry.com you had to write letters to relatives, courthouses, genealogy societies, libraries, etc..and ask for information. You had to know exactly what you were looking for. Or, many times you had to drive to those places and dig through records yourself. Most of them weren’t indexed or even in great order. I really realized how much easier it is now with so many records not only digitized but also indexed and sounded. I can do so much of my research from the comfort of my own home. But on the flip side, through her hard, patient work, Alice has a large collection of old letters, photographs, telegrams, birth and death certificates, and more. Genealogists like myself consider these real treasures.
I thoroughly enjoyed swapping stories with Alice and I can tell that, like me, she was very happy to have someone to talk family history with that understood the fascination with our ancestors. It was just so crazy to think through the steps every time she would tell a story that started with something like, “Aunt May” and I had to realize that was my great grandmother May. She spent time at the farm and met all the “cousins” who were really my grandma Mabel’s siblings or cousins as well. I didn’t get near enough time to ask all that I wanted to ask and it really made me miss my grandma so much. There are so many stories that I missed because I was too busy as a kid to really listen or pay attention when Grandma wanted to tell them to me.
One evening we ate dinner with her daughters, granddaughter (Tara), and Sara, another “cousin” (3rd once removed) who lives in the area and whom I had invited to join us. I enjoyed meeting such extended family. I worked quite a bit with Tara that week as she has the privilege of “housing” all of her grandmother’s treasure. She let me rummage through, scan and copy to my heart’s content and I helped her organize and explain her grandma’s system, hopefully.
Best of all I came home with new energy, and fresh direction. I now have most of the information I need to start writing about the John Edward Tracy family and I am ready to jump in.