I started using Ancestry.com in February 19, 2014 and after sevearl months I felt like I was getting nowhere. My mother rest her soul gave me a task to find her sisters and I have been searching since 1994. The information I had were the names of her brothers, sisters and her biological parents, I had no birthdates no married names for my mothers sisters. During the 90’s, resources were limited meaning using a phone book, making calls and writing letters. To no avail I was powerless and my efforts were fruitless. At that time frame, I was living in Willows Ca which is eighty miles north of Sacramento, Ca. I would make trips to San Francisco, Ca which was the last known place for this Bradford family, but no success they were long gone by that time. The idea of placing an ad in the Newspapers was a romantic notion, our Dad recently passed in July of 1993 and we were still going through the healing process; funds were limited at the moment.
In February of 2014, I created an account with Ancestry.com and added the basic information that I had. I started to find Census records from 1940 that had my mother listed as one year old. I got excited finding this record and then I found others 1930, 1920, to 1880 when my grandfather was one year old. Infact that is how I found out who my great grandparents were. The sensation of finding these treasures brings a sense of accomplishment. I then moved over to my biological Uncles and started to conduct the research on them. First, I found Dennis F Bradford, I then found his death record buried with his parents. My grandparents and their son Dennis were buried at the Golden Gate National Cemetery San Bruno San Mateo County California, USA. Uncle Dennis is located at Plot: Section R, Site 2837. I then moved over to the other uncles, and more death indexes. I found all my uncles no longer living. I was getting discouraged finding valuable information but not the information I was hoping to find. I wanted to find phone directory listing the last known place of residence, but that will not happen for all the male descendants are deceased.
May of 2014, I started researching my mother’s sisters. I will tell you you really need the married names because this part became the preverbal looking for the needle in the hay stack. I spent months researching possible leads but no success not even a nibble. I decided to give that part of the tree a rest and moved on to my great grandmother Rebecca Ann Street born 20 Apr 1858 in Tennessee. I already had some basic information I retrieved from my Library visits but I wanted to get further in the past. I then went back to visit the sisters of my mothers still nothing to be found. The frustration was building. I then thought, what about creating a smaller family tree using another site. I found www.geni.com and luckly it was free to create the small tree for free. I created this in September 5, 2014. I am an avid fisherman and I thought to myself what if I throw out a line with the bait being my family just dangling there in this gigantic pool of information. So, now I have two lines out in the water so to speak. Two months went by with the information on Geni.com and nothing. I had to get in a different mind frame to not get discouraged because most great things in life do not happen overnight. While the line was still in the ocean, I continued my research on my family tree I had on Ancestry. Then one day I get this email from Geni.com, I was taking by surprise and bewildered at the same time. I had a follower, it provided me with the persons name that I did not recognise. That was January 9, 2015. I was ok, move on thinking nothing of it. Then, I get another email the same day but later in the evening, but this time Geni.com said I had a message left by this person the same person that followed me earlier. I go to my Geni account and read the message that came in at 8:29 pm. I was shocked, stunned my heart was racing a million miles. The information within the message could only be by a family member that knew that truth, no one else would know that.
The message, “I am looking for your mother if her maiden name is Bradford. My mother, Patricia, is her sister. She has 4 sisters living and never forgot their sister Virginia who was adopted by the Dixon family when she was 10 years old. Please email me with information.“
I had to compose myself, I thought that I would never make that connection become a reality. Now granted, winning the Lottery is a goal of mine as well but this was just like getting all five numbers with the power play. I was on a roller coaster of emotions. When this person gave the family name of the Dixons, I will admit I was beyond shocked because only internal family members would have that information. There are no records, it was not an adoption by regular means.
Once I composed myself, I wrote an email to this person later on in the evening. I attached a photo of my mother. We arranged a time to have a phone conversation. We shared information and I had to inform my maternal first cousin that resides in Auburn, Ca that my mother had passed away in May of 2002. We are still in contact with one another to this day and I have made calls to my aunts as well. I only wish that my Mother was still alive so that she could reconnect with her living sisters.
The moral of this post: Do not get discouraged when it feels like you are getting nowhere in your search. Searching for living family members is not like finding records of a deceased relative that at times can be easily found when using the right tools of the trade. I read a post one day in the message boards of Ancestry and the person that was giving advice said that you have to think differently when locating records. The same can be said when trying to find living family members. I used my fishing tactics to lure the biggest fish in yet to date. So, throw your lines out two or more, this is one place that one cannot be fined for having too many poles out in the water…..