Today I had the blessing of receiving the gift of my grandfather's genealogy charts, documents, and photos. My grandpa Bill spent much of his adult life tracking down his family's ancestry, as well as that of my grandmother. For years he has been looking for another family member to carry on the genealogical work. I thought about it for many years, and decided recently that it was meant to be. I have a burning desire to learn my family's history, and to share that history with my daughter.
My grandfather struggled to track history that had been destroyed during the bombings in World War II. There are pages upon pages of letters sent to and received from the National Archives, embassies, churches, the LDS ancestry centers, and more. I was given original photographs that are over a hundred years old. One noted that my great-uncle, raised during the depression, reached a spectacular height of 6'7". That was nearly an entire foot taller than the average at the time!
There are still mysteries on both my grandmother and grandfather's sides, due to deaths, adoptions, and remarriages. The information on my grandmother's father is sketchy at best, and there is no concrete evidence. I spoke with my grandfather about locating a relative to compare dna, and he was excited at the prospect. He also volunteered his own dna. The next time that the kits are on sale through 23 and me, I will have to take him up on the offer.
I can't help but cry reading his account of how my grandmother passed away in her sleep, and how he tried desperately to save her. How he'll be buried in the same plot as her, and they will be together in eternity. I found a small autobiography in my grandmother's own hand. Touching these memories brings up so many emotions, both happy and sad. After we visited grandpa, we stopped down the street at my grandmother's grave. Adam and I washed off her headstone. The white granite has been dyed a rusty color in spots from the high mineral content of our soil. We walked around and sat under a tree for awhile, all three of us holding hands.
I will be sorting through the information for some time to come, but I wanted to share a few of the photos with you. Click on the photo to view a larger image over at Flikr.
My great-grandfather's first gas station. Guess who could afford to buy gas during the Depression? Yep - the Mafia.