Saturday, January 17, 2015

Serendipity in Genealogy

Serendipity: n-the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

I have read stories on other blogs regarding “Serendipity in Genealogy” and finally had a serendipitous moment of my own.

I had been researching my cousin’s Farias line.  We are related via my father and their mother.  Our parents are first cousins on my Gonzalez side.  I was trying to see if I could connect our families via a Farias relation as well.  I had followed their line back to their 2nd great grandparents Fausto Farias and Epitasia Hinojosa.

My research led me to request a film be sent from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City to a local branch close to me.  The film reel (1016452) consisted of marriage certificates for the State of Texas, Starr County 1858-1916.  I had the marriage date as it had been indexed; 26 August 1878.  Now I want to see if the marriage certificate held any unknown information.

The reel started with 1858 and I needed to unwind it 20 years.  If anyone has done this before, that can be a lot of hand cranking.  When you are looking for a specific document, you start winding like crazy, stopping periodically to see how the date has come along.

As many of you can relate, we are rarely working in only one direction at one time.  Around the same time, I had also been researching the Vela line of my brother-in-law (my sister’s husband).   I had the names of his 2nd great grandparents Severo Vela and Estafana Garcia.  I had put forth a good amount of effort but I had not been able to find evidence of their marriage in the Mexico records I had been searching.

Serendipity happened on one of my pauses unwinding the film to check the date.  I had landed on 4 July 1869.  Still 9 years off my target.  As I scanned the screen looking for a date, the name Severo Vela registered in my brain.  I blinked a couple of times and took another look.  Sure enough, in front of my face, sat my brother in law’s 2nd great grandparents marriage certificate.

I had not thought to search on this side of the border for a record of their marriage.  Subsequently, I gave myself a slap on the forehead moment, when I proved if I had just used the United States in my search parameters, I would have returned results. 

By the way, I did also net my quarry that day of the other marriage certificate. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

He Was Just A Name

Eleno Gonzalez...

One of the first names I placed in my tree “That First Night”.  It was a named I pulled off of with an un-sourced birthdate of “abt 1900”.  Believe me, that early in my new addiction, I wasn’t worried about the un-sourced part.

But as I have built my tree out, and spent time on, I wanted to know more about this brother of my grandfather.   A couple of things came together that renewed my interest in trying to fill out his details in my tree; First, my father recently pointed him out in an old picture of an Easter Egg hunt I remember being a part of in 1969.  Hmmm, I actually met this man?  Granted, I was only 7 at the time, but that is still 1 degree of separation.  And second, as I stated in an earlier posts, I am cleaning up both my tree[1] on and taking the time to fix what I have seen on Familysearch.

I have searched for records pertaining to him several times.  He has been in my tree since day one, and Ancestry would only have 3 hints; none of which pertained to him.  Google turned up nothing.  Asking older relatives that knew of him did not yield much more.  Lived in Corpus; sold radio advertising.  But still nothing.  Hmmph. 

When I got to his part of my tree it just bugged me again.  Someone had added his name and “about” birthdate on some time ago and he was just kind of left like that.  He only ended up in my tree because he was tied to my g-grandparents records.

I started to dig again. 

This time I decided to try something different.  I searched for him on Ancestry without the search linking to his name in my tree.  Just a blind search; Eleno Gonzalez, DOB 1900 +- 10 years.  No parents, no siblings.  And this time I got a hit. 

It was a WWII registration document for an Eleno Gonzalez living in New Orleans in the early 1940’s.  It states he is from South Texas, and it had a birthdate that was in 1910.[2]   Hmmm, more information to search from…

So using this birthday I performed another search.  I hit on a death certificate from Corpus Christi, Texas in 1980.[3]   And low and behold, his parents are listed.  My g-Grandparents Ines Gonzales and Elena Longoria.

I have searched death certificates on Family Search with both those names listed as parents, and never came across his death certificate. 

Now that I knew I had the right guy, I started adding these records to my tree.  From that, new “Shaky leaves” popped up.   They indicated a marriage and a divorce.   They also indicated there were children from that marriage.  Cousins, I never knew of. 

Subsequently, from searches performed from that one blind search, I discovered he was married at least 2x’s, there are even more cousins I never knew of. 
Using the information I discovered, and some Internet sleuthing, I tracked down a couple of cousins from those lines on Facebook.  I messaged one of them and he responded back.  I introduced myself as a not too distant cousin and certainly unknown to each other until now.  I hope from this communication, I may learn more about this side of my family I seemed to know so little about.

And all of this because a brick wall was just bugging me so much. 

And I attempted a search with as little information as possible.