Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):
1) Have you visited with friends or relatives to find out more about your ancestors (parents, grandparents, etc.)? If so, what was your "best" visit with friends or relatives who provided information, stories or photographs of your ancestors?
2) Tell us in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook or Google+ comment.
I started researching my family history in early 1988, and made significant progress in the next two plus years. In September of 1990, my aunt and uncle, d and Janet Seaver (my father's brother) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Leominster, Massachusetts with a reception, a church service, and a family reunion over several days in the Leominster area.
My brother, Scott, and I attended the event, and stayed in Massachusetts for another week or so, staying with my cousins up in Salem, New Hampshire. I knew that my grandmother's Richmond family had had a farm in Putnam, Connecticut, and that there were Richmond cousins still living near the farm. Scott and I drove from Salem to Putnam one day, and stayed in a hotel near Grove Street Cemetery in Putnam. My goal was to check the cemetery, visit libraries, and try to contact Richmond folks in the telephone book.
After checking into the hotel, I looked in the phone book and found that there were several Richmond names, so I called one. I explained who I was, how I was related to James and Hannah Richmond, and she said that her son, Russell, had a lot of family history information, and gave me the phone number. But she said I would have to talk to his wife, because Russell was deaf. I called, and talked to the wife, Helen, and she was very happy to hear from a California cousin. We arranged for Russell, who could read lips, to meet us at the hotel and guide us through the cemetery to the Richmond graves, and then to visit their home very near the old Richmond dairy farm in Putnam, which had been sold recently.
The next morning, Russell came and we toured the graveyard. He told us some stories (which I've forgotten), and I took photos of the gravestones. Then we went to their home on Richmond Road in Putnam, which was across the road from the farm. It was a relatively new log cabin home with all of the amenities. Helen served a nice lunch, and we sat together and looked through photographs and papers, and Russell told stories about the Richmond family, and especially his line. He recalled that my grandmother and several of her sisters had visited the Putnam family back in the 1930s.
We took a little excursion across the road, and Russell explained the dairy farm workings, the buildings, etc. I took more photographs, and have forgotten the stories.
I asked if we could make photocopies of the pertinent papers and photographs from his collection, and he agreed. I picked out what I wanted, and we went to a drug store in town that had a photocopy machine, and I got black and white copies of the material. When we returned, I wrote the information about the subjects of the photos on the back of the photocopies.
We said our goodbyes in the late afternoon, promised to drop in again the next time we were in the area, and went back to the hotel. We went to Boston the next day and did the tourist thing - Scott wanted to see the Cheers Bar and Fenway Park, and I wanted to see Paul Revere's house and the Freedom Trail.
This was an excellent adventure - totally on the fly without much preparation, and it turned out really well. I learned a lot - I needed to be able to record the stories, and make arrangements ahead of the visit.
Linda and I went to Massachusetts again in 1994, and we called Russell and Helen again, and found that they had moved to Pomfret, a town just northwest of Putnam. We visited again, and I shared more information about what I had found out about the Richman family in Wiltshire, England in 1993 on our vacation there.
Russell is my second cousin once removed. We exchanged Christmas cards for several years, until Russell died in 2003, and Helen died in 2010.
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