02 October 2012

Serendipity plays role in genealogy and family history research

Source:  http://www.beasuccessfulentrepreneur.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/serendipity-frame.jpg

I dare you to find a genealogist or family historian who has NOT had serendipity play a role in their research!

That was why an article titled “Serendipity plays a role in research” caught my eye!  Though I do appreciate that “hard work” often gets us to where serendipity does happen, unfortunately, hard work doesn’t always result in a bit of serendipity!

As the article says ...

It was recently reported that Cathy Tyree, a woman in Richmond, Va., had discovered a “lost” photograph of her father in an antique shop. Her father had died in 1976 at age 51 and she was most surprised to find his photo while looking for some furniture to purchase.

Many genealogists have experienced similar coincidences and Henry “Hank” Jones has even written about many of them ...

Do read the full article.

What’s your “best” example of serendipity and it’s role in your research?

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  1. On my first trip to the family cemetery where several generations of my family are buried, my aunt was giving me a tour, pointing out relatives and explaining to me who they were. It was a wet, dewy morning, and the sun was shining brightly. I spotted an old hand-chiseled river rock on which I could just make out my surname due to the angle of the sun. It happened that I had just found the final resting place of my gggrandfather! If the sun had not been shining at just the right angle, I would have missed it, as my aunt had missed it so many times before.

  2. Thanks for sharing that Greg -- it is a powerful and important element in our research. Some of my "key" finds came about due to serendipity + helpful people!

  3. My best example of serendipity is the time I was researching my children's Dawson line. I spent the afternoon at the Gloucester County Historical Society and found a book there called 'The Dawson family in America'. There was a chapter on New Jersey Dawsons, which I copied.I'd also found some census records. That evening I met with my ex-husband's cousin Richard Dawson. He shared his Dawson records with me.

    Later at home, I began entering everything on Family Group Sheets and Pedigree charts. The oldest family from his research exactly dovetailed into the youngest family from the chapter of the Dawson book of the "Dawsons in New Jersey". I went from 30 years to over 250 years in one day!

    The other serendipitous discoveries I've had were at cemeteries. In Sharptown Cemetery, I had no clue where to start, so I began at the end closest to the church. Imagine my surprise when the grave sites I needed were right next to where I had parked!