Let me preface this by telling you that I will “babble” family history to any poor fool that is willing to listen. One of my many victims over the years has been my friend Leslie. Up until recently she would smile and nod her head and give me the “glazed over” look whenever I launched into my “latest find.” I have been encouraging her for some time to start digging into her family roots – to no avail. Well, lo and behold, she finally allowed me to set up her family tree on ancestry.com! The only thing Leslie knew about her father’s family was that her grandparents had divorced prior to her father’s birth, and he informed her that, “we wouldn’t find much.” Well, guess again Dad, within three days we knew her grandfather’s birth date, found him in all the census records, found his death date, and figured out who his parents and grandparents were and had connected with a distant cousin! And Leslie was hooked! Another convert!
Now let me tell you – our Curbow-Montoya family database is quite large – but it has taken years to compile. We have scratched, begged, borrowed (and considered stealing) the information, documents and photographs that we do have! While my husband’s family tree does have some interesting branches (many of the families have been in America since the 1600s and include several revolutionary war soldiers and a Governor of Colonial Virginia). My family – I got NOTHING!
Back to my friend Leslie – On her father’s side we found her ggg-grandfather, Hugh McCurdy (1829-1908), a Scottish immigrant, an attorney and a judge who was written up in the New York Times, who established the First National Bank of Corunna, Michigan, and who deeded land for a park now known as McCurdy Park in Michigan.
Her tree also includes step-great grandfather John Julius Ebear (1875-1954), a master sea-captain on the Great Lakes and his grandson (and Leslie’s first cousin 1x removed) Gordon Frederick MacLellan (1945-1975) who died on Lake Michigan with the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald.
Today Leslie received a treasure in the mail. One of the cousins that she has connected with mailed her an entire envelope of old family photographs which span several generations of this family line, including several tin types. Have I mentioned – I got NOTHING??!
And if that wasn’t enough for a budding genealogist to get excited about – Leslie retrieved from her mother “the family bible.” This bible is large and very old, published in 1870. On the inside cover is a list of names, birth dates, marriage dates and death dates of every family member back to 1820. What?! And I’m not even finished yet – taped on the inside cover are obituaries for several generations of her mother’s family – along with some photos. And the biggest treasure – an original land grant (Kansas from lands belonging to the Kickapoo) issued to the widow of James Shaw for his service in the War of 1812 signed by William Stoddard, secretary to President Abraham Lincoln. It really doesn’t get any better than this! Oh but wait – I think I failed to mention that Leslie’s mother’s direct immigrating ancestor came to America on a little ship named the Mayflower. You may have heard of it.
AND ME – I GOT NOTHING !!!!!!
All joking aside – Leslie – welcome to your new obsession – you’re off to a GREAT start !