Monday, June 15, 2015

Then and Now

One of the thinks on my genealogy bucket list has been to find the house of my 3rd great grandfather. My daughter was accepted into a two week summer school for Talented and Gifted students at a college near where my 3rd great grandfather ended his days which means a long drive twice a day and four hours a day for the next two weeks in which I have time to burn. So one day one while she was in school, I set off in search of his house.

I only knew the town where it was located in a mailing address but didn't know if it was actually in town or in the miles of surrounding countryside. I decided that since it is a small town, that I would be able to scour the town and the surrounding countryside in a few days if need be but since I knew it was standing 26 years later in 2002 when another picture of it was taken during a 76th family reunion there which I didn't know about until a couple years ago. I called up the organizer of that reunion and though she couldn't tell me where it was, she did seem to think it MIGHT be on the northeast side of town.

With that information to go upon, I drove down the main road through town and when I got towards the east side I turned north. Whether it be luck, good intuition or perhaps some genetic homing beacon, I drove right to the house. It was still occupied by someone and I didn't want them to feel like I was stalking them so I didn't linger. I took the photo below and drove on down the road away where I could see the house and the lay of the land and contemplate things.

Two generations of my family are in the photo above, my great grandfather and his father. My third great grandfather had died only six years before the picture was taken and I have featured pictures of his grave and a barn on a farm he lived for a time previously on this blog. For some reason, I felt connected to him at his grave and at the old barn that he used to work in on a farm he rented earlier in his life but felt little connection to this house. I could have stood in the very inches of earth that my great great grandfather stood for the photo and those of his son and my great grandfather but for some reason, being in the barn where they sweated and toiled working the land meant more to me.

Still I guess I can say I've been there and cross it off my genealogical bucket list. While calling the coordinator for the family reunion 13 years ago, she reminded me that the family is having the 90th family reunion since the above picture was taken later this summer and invited me to attend. I'm not sure if I'll go since it would inevitably mean meeting my biological father for the first time since he left 35 plus years ago. A family reunion is supposed to be full of good memories and not uncomfortable pauses in what would probably be awkward conversation. Hey, how have you've been? But then, perhaps I need to just get it done and over with and out of the way in a setting with plenty of others around to help alleviate any awkwardness. I guess I still have a couple months to decide.


sage said...

I don't envy you that decision about whether or not to attend the reunion, but I am impressed by that house and the fretwork screen on the porch.

Ed said...

Sage - The fretwork on the porch was the only thing that grabbed my attention and let me know I had the right place. Funny how you can look at a picture for hours ahead of time and still not be positive that you are at the right place standing in front of the actual house.

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of women in that photo. Was it taken during a period of war. Excellent that the place is still standing and with the frieze.

Ed said...

Vince - It was taken in 1925, seven years after World War I. I haven't spent a lot of time identifying ancestors who fought in World War I but I'm guessing the "Abbey's" had a man or two who served during that time.

Leigh said...

How great that you were so successful in your house hunt. Such an interesting bit of real history for your genealogy records.

Deciding whether or not to attend that family reunion would be tough. It would be an awkward situation for certain.