A new cousin discovered me recently–through Ancestry.com. We share the same great-great-grandfather. “Sounds like we’re cousins,” he wrote. “How cool is that?”
Very cool, in fact. Finding new cousins through family history research is an undeniable rush.
His contact once again brought home the value of a family “treasure chest.” Once again, the beauty of my grandmother’s “Treasure Chest of Memories” washed over me and amazed me.
My newly found cousin wrote me that his great-grandfather, Jasper “Buddy” Clark, died about 1908 in a mining accident in Low Moor, Virginia. His widow remarried and her second husband sent her children by Buddy to an orphanage. A combination of sealed court records and family secrets created a quagmire of hidden roots for Buddy’s descendants to untangle. My cousin has had quite a struggle in finding his roots.
I quickly started trying to match Jasper “Buddy” Clark to my great grandmother’s brother, Jasper Robert Clark. And then things started getting sticky. Dates didn’t match up. Though Buddy died in 1908, Jasper Robert Clark was still living in 1910 and beyond—and was married to a different woman.
I hated to think that my new-found family member, wasn’t really my cousin. I already felt a kinship with him. Searches through census records just confused me more, but a marriage record confirmed that Buddy was a son of my great-great-grandfather.
After a few minutes, inspiration hit me. Maybe Grandma had written about her Uncle Buddy in her “Treasure Chest of Memories.”
Sure enough, she had. In fact, she included some clear records of the Clark family siblings. She wrote, “Grandpa Van Field Clarke had two sons, Jasper and Buddy, and one daughter Mary Susan… James—or Buddy—had two children, a boy and a girl, Eldridge and Nellie…”
Grandma, through her “Treasure Chest” was able to set us straight. Buddy wasn’t my Jasper, but rather Jasper’s brother James.
As I continued to page through my grandma’s writing, I found that Grandma also left a description of Buddy. Realizing that I could pass this on to his estranged great-grandson caused chills to run up and down my arms.
I remember Uncle Buddy Clarke, tall, slender, with sandy hair and deep shadowed blue eyes. He had a good looking face too, and always seemed most unhappy.
Uncle Buddy died in an accident, or so we thought at the time. His beautiful young widow soon married a gambler who was very cruel.
What a gift—to be able to share such a nugget, to be able to confirm the genealogical records. Grandma was always warm and welcoming. I wonder if she ever imagined, as she wrote down her memories of relatives, that she’d still be welcoming new family members 31 years after she died.
Your Turn to Discover New Cousins
Make sure your leave records that will enable future generations to help new cousins to find their rightful place on the family tree.