Climbing Family Trees: The Binder by Darlene Stevens

Climbing Family Trees

More great stories, poems, and helpful hints about genealogy and searching for your family's roots from the twin authors of "Climbing Family Trees: Whispers In The Leaves"

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Binder by Darlene Stevens

“The Binder”
Darlene Stevens
Spokane, Washington

I did not grow up in a family that shared its history. Both of my parents have passed away and for years I knew very little about my ancestral line with the surname of "BEST." I did know that they were early settlers in the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho area. So, armed with what little knowledge I had, I approached the local library where genealogy records and local history were kept. All day I searched with little success. I became frustrated, picked up my belongings and began to leave. As I turned to make sure I had not left anything on the table, I saw a plain, white 3-ring binder in the corner of a bottom shelf. There was no label or title written on the exterior, so I had no idea what was inside. Being one who truly believes we are guided to find certain ancestors, I stood there, trying to decide if it was worth putting all of my things down again and walking back across the room.

The feeling became so strong. When I picked up the notebook without the label I found that it was the total genealogy of the BEST family! It was compiled by a family member from a small town near the Canadian border. I had no idea how long the notebook had been there or if the compiler was even still living. There was no telephone or e-mail address listed. Later, I would send a letter to this woman and we have, since then, become good friends.

Also listed in the notebook was some information about a small cemetery, located in a residential neighborhood. It was once the site of the family homestead. There are 13 family members buried there, one being my great great grandmother, Ellen Cherilla Ring. Nothing was known about her except that she was born November 13, 1838 in Maine. As I stood at her grave site that early March afternoon, a warm gentle wind blew around me and I felt that this woman wanted to be found. She has been a challenge to find, but I have traced her life. All of the work has been worthwhile. Now, when I visit the little cemetery I feel her presence all around me and I know she is pleased.

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