Thursday, December 1, 2011

Super Steve, Ancestor Detective



Oh, if only I could count the number of times I've started and stopped, started and stopped this very post since July.  Each time I begin, I realize that it's just too much to handle all at once, and needs to either be carefully compartmentalized into multiple posts addressing each amazing piece of the story, or re-configured into a whole new post altogether.  I chose the latter, although that's not to say I won't be following this up with multiple other posts to flesh out the pieces later.

I wrote sometime last year about how Steve's been researching his family tree through Ancestry.com and other services that help put all of his data together into a (sort-of) neat, tidy package, one that moves back through time, uncovering bits and more bits and still even more bits, tantalizing the brain and presenting bigger and more challenging puzzles as he goes.  It all started about 11 or so years ago, when he finally confirmed who his birth father was, but when he went to physically find him, it was too late, as he had passed away less than a year before.  At that point, he decided to start his search in earnest for his half-brother, the son of the father he'd never met, that he'd heard existed somewhere.   

Since then, in bulleted fashion, a rundown of his escapades.  I will, however, spare you any of the details that could be considered by some as scandalous, in an effort to protect his family, and I will also refer to real people by their initials, if so needed.

1.  Found a branch of his family history dating back to the mid-1400s.

2.  Found some incredible photos of family members and ancestors that he never would have found without being able to tap into this amazing resource (the photo above is of his maternal great grandmother and great grandfather, and the photo of the man below is of his paternal first cousin, 5 times removed with his wife and children, who moved from England to Canada).

3.  Discovered he's a direct descendant of a Mormon convert who came to America in 1850 to be part of the 2nd wave of Brigham Young's Utah settlement.  Sadly, he died in Missouri, while making his way west.  Later, other family members married into the Church and did finally settle in Utah.

4.  Found a branch of his family who had come over from England, settled, and fought for the Americans during the Revolutionary War (a fact that I tossed to him this past Fourth of July, a day on which he usually eschews traditional festivities by saying he refuses to celebrate a day that we got our independence from his country...LOL).

5.  Found living relatives of a branch of his family in Texas and friended them on Facebook.

6.  Found a first cousin also living in the US, and has kept in pretty steady contact with her, gathering information about his father that he wouldn't be able to get anywhere else.

7.  Found (or was found by) and has become friends with A., the cousin of his uncle-by-marriage, a woman in Australia who had been given up for adoption at birth, searching for her birth mother.  She and Steve have provided support to each other during their searches, and celebrated the triumphs.  Just yesterday morning she called and said she'd found her mother!  Finally!  We're hoping for a visit from A. and her husband some time next year.

8.  Found his half brother, M., in July!!!  After ordering the death certificate of his brother's mother, hoping that the brother would be the one to have signed it, he was rewarded with just such a signature, and an address in a far-away land (the reason he'd been so hard to find!).  They have been in touch ever since, which is no small thing, considering M. didn't know that Steve existed...

9.  Found not only M., but J., another brother, someone Steve had thought had died at age 3 (based on the faulty data another family member had plugged into Ancestry.com)!!!  I know that J. and his wife read this blog, so here's a quick shout out to them!  So glad to have you as part of our family!

And the list goes on...

Whew.  So many years, so much stress, so much hard work, so much reward, so many mysteries still remaining (oh, and there are some doozies, believe me!).  But piece by teeny, tiny piece, the puzzle continues to fit together, growing bigger and bigger every day as more and more family members are added.

And this quest is so important for so many reasons.  This isn't just Steve's story.  It's the story of brothers, cousins, uncles and aunts who are finding each other for the first time and learning their history from what's been uncovered. 

It's Samantha's story.



6 comments:

The Annessa Family said...

Wow. Just amazing!

Brooke
www.TheAnnessaFamily.blogspot.com

JRS said...

That is really amazing. I've always wanted to do this. Good for you!
---Jen

Jenny said...

That's so cool!

Rob Monroe said...

That's super cool! Go Steve go!

Meriah said...

I was completely obsessed with that stuff before.. I found ancestry.com a total pain to use but I did find my Dad and Grandma's so ail security numbers floating around online. They were thrilled. It's been about 10 years since then - this really inspires me to give it another go. I hope we have Mormons in the family too - when you do, you score on a whole section of detail, I have heard (plus Mormons are nice people!)
Great post, Becca!

Melissa said...

All the history he's been able to dig up is so cool! My grandma started working on our family history years ago, and my uncle took over after she passed away. I think it's really interesting, but I'm glad someone else in my family is doing the work!