Climbing Family Trees: Boring Books And The Treasures In Them by Kathryn Cox

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

Boring Books And The Treasures In Them by Kathryn Cox

“Boring Books and the Treasures in Them”
Kathryn Cox

As an avid genealogist, I love to visit cemeteries. I have also had picnics in a few and I just knew my kinfolk were sharing the time with us. Frequently I drag along my mother who humors me in my hobby. Knowing we had many ancestors from the area, my mother and I were in Connecticut visiting cemeteries and libraries, as well as enjoying the marvelous fall foliage. At the library in East Haddam I headed for the genealogy section. My mother began looking at what I call “coffee table books.”

Before long I was interrupted. "Is this one of our ancestors?" asked my mother. She had a book with a photograph of a historic house built in the early 1800's with the Chapman surname in the description, her mother's maiden name. "Yes, that is your great-great-great-grandfather!," I replied, thrilled with her surprising discovery. I immediately copied the information, including the map showing its location, compared it to the county map in the car, and headed out into the colorful, fall Connecticut countryside. Upon arrival at the house my mother asked, "Now what are you going to do?" I don’t know if she was more curious or worried!

I knocked on the door and gave a quick explanation of my interest. A welcoming voice invited us into a marvelous two-story historic house with original fireplaces in each room, original wooden floors, and a shining banister. I just knew my ancestor and his siblings had taken a fast shortcut down those stairs many times as children! We were given a tour, note cards featuring the house, and the opportunity to photograph the exterior. We learned that our ancestor had built the house and that Chapman descendants had lived in it about 150 years before it passed into other hands.

Shortly after I returned to Austin, Texas, I overheard a man at the LDS Family History Center talking about East Haddam. When I introduced myself he told me he had grown up down the road from that area and could tell me stories about playing with the Chapman children at that house. What a discovery! My mother’s lack of interest in genealogy led to one of our greatest family history discoveries!


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