Rick and Gary in New Mexico. It was fun spending time with Rick after meeting him last year. The two of them are a little bit silly.
Gary, Frances, and Rick. Silliness continues. After spending the day with Rick, we headed for Amarillo, Texas to meet Darla for the first time. Rick didn't go but we took Frances with us.
What a treat to meet Darla and her husband Bill. We have had a year to talk on the phone and text but it was so much more fun to meet her in person. We also got to meet her father. Tom doesn't remember the past but he is also a very real person and not just a photo. In the photo, Niles, Gary Frances, Darla, Bill, and Tom.
Off to Springfield, Missouri to see my son and brother.
Taking a break at the Arch in St. Louis. This is Niles, Frances, Me, and Christopher. Next stop, Diamond, Missouri to meet David and Melea.
Maybe not the best picture but everyone is there. Frances, Niles, Me, Melea's son David, Melea, David, and Gary. We spent all day with them and were sorry to leave. We had a wonderful trip. We met Darla and David. We saw my family and did some historical research on my grandparents. It was a very busy trip but so worth it.
In July, we will finally meet Darla and David in person. For a year now, we have spent hours on the phone. We will pick up Frances and maybe Rick so they can meet them too. Everyone is excited to finally meet face to face.
The willingness of everyone to get to know each other is a blessing. I expected some interest but these kids want to be a family.
Insecurity or self-doubt sometimes plague me. I sent the books to all the family members except the Rickman's. They are older and we don't spend much time talking to them and quite frankly, they are the only two that I worry about offending. Karolene called and wanted to know why she didn't have a book. Apparently, David told her about it. So we sent the book but heard nothing back. This is where the insecurity strikes. While not wanting to step on anyone's toes, we printed what we know to be the truth right now. We also know that this can change in an instant. The truth is out there (reminds me of "X-Files") but it is not always apparent. I just learned that doing the Family History Writing Challenge. What I thought was true on the death of my great grandfather has changed based on a comment by my 2nd cousin. His version differs from mine and I now think that he has the more truthful account.
Yesterday, Frances called. She said that Karolene had not gotten a copy of the book. That was strange because it was sent over a month ago so Gary called her. Frances was confused. Karolene has her copy but told Gerald about it and he wanted to know why he didn't get a copy. Karolene loved the book and had no changes to make. I did ask her if the photos of her and Gerald were corrected because I pulled them off the Internet without being really sure that I had the right people. An educated guess is not always correct. The picutres were right and relief flooded my body.
The bottom line was Karolene thought she might send Gerald her copy but didn't want to. Gerald's copy goes out in today's mail.
My blog, Rhea/Yeakley Family History has taught me to write the truth as I know it. Beyond that, understand that the truth can change and once you accept that, insecurity and self-doubt can be a thing of the past.
When you think you've hit a block wall, it is time to think outside the box. I was frustrated researching Ancestry.com and the Internet and coming up with the same information. In the case of the Gaulthair's and Montoya's, I had everything I could find on my own. It was time to come up with some creative new sources.
In desperation, I sent an email to the Superintendent of the La Farge, Wisconsin, school district asking if they had school pictures from the 1940's. I figured that even if they didn't have information, they might be able to provide a picture or two. While it might not further advance my research, a picture provides a visual and makes that person real.
The Superintendent wrote back that she would look into it and said she would talk to her mother who still lived in La Farge. Unfortunately, that was the day of the school shooting and I knew my request would be overlooked as their schools would need to review their safety policies. So, it was with complete shock when later that afternoon, I received a call from Lonnie. He is the editor of the La Farge Newspaper. She had forwarded the request to him.
Lonnie not only knew the Gaulthair's, he is related on the Morgan side. He shared tidbits adding flavor and texture to the story we already know. He put an article in his paper and has had several people contact him. He shares what he learns and we have a running dialog.
In the meantime, I appreciate "FIND A GRAVE". Not only has it given me information, the photos of the grave sites are visible proof I am on the right track. They have volunteers who photograph headstones that are not on the site. I asked for one of the Gaulthair's and several of the Montoya's. In order to do my share, I also signed up to take pictures too and found it rewarding to be able to take four photos in our local graveyard. I was also able to clear up some confusion on a first name that was a stumbling block for the requester.
The Montoya request netted a big find. A very nice lady named Janice emailed me. She has been working on a project to document the graves in the historic San Francisco Church in Golden, New Mexico. Most of my husband's paternal biological family is buried there. She asked if I could help her with the family. Yes, I would definitely help. She sent what she know about one of the family memebers and I was able to make connections that had eluded me. I gave her access to my Ancestry.com tree and she was able to finally put a family together.
Contacting the school district was an inspiration. The "Find a Grave" experience is priceless. Both have more than exceeded my expectations. I wonder where else there is to look. I am taking suggestions.
As a Christmas present, I sent the book out. There are a few typos but I think the story is more important. Each person sees their own piece but the story is so much bigger. David's response was great. He said he read a few pages, looked at the pictures and had a meltdown. He sees he is an important piece of the puzzle and we have been looking for him many years. In the meantime, Lonnie has been sending tidbits from the people who have responded to the article he wrote in his paper. It is exciting to have someone on the inside and I am tickled every time he pops up in my email. All of the tidbits are being compiled so they can be added to the book.
I sent a note on Friday to the La Farge School District in La Farge Wisconsin, asking if they had any school pictures of Lydia, Frank, Violet or DeLos. I didn't hold out much hope but I am out of ideas and research avenues so I thought I would give it a try. I heard back from the Superintendent that they would check for me. What a wonderful response. Then, the Ct. tragedy happened and I knew my small request became unimportant when the safety of their schools became a major priority.
Today we got a phone call from Lonnie Muller. He is from the Episcope Newspaper in La Farge. My request was forwarded to him. We had a wonderful talk, he knows the Gaulthair family, and is related on the Morgan side. He shared some information about Lydia's mother and asked if it would be OK to put something in the paper asking for information about Lydia. YES, PLEASE!
I am sending him my little book. I know that the information I have may not be completely correct but as we peel away the layers, we get closer to the truth. I really wish he could see me doing the "happy dance".
I was careful, had friends read the little book and still missed some errors. However, they are not big enough to detract from the story and have been fixed for the next revision. Frances is sending some pictures of Lydia that Karolene sent to her. They are just before Lydia passed away and she looks very different. I want to include them. Still waiting for the package Karolene promised but she is making this more difficult than it needs to be. I know that she believes the past is long gone but it isn't for the rest of the kids who didn't live their lives with all the facts. Patience is a virtue which is, apparently, not one of mine.
Missing Pieces: The Gaulthair Children is done! Well, that's not quite true. If we find more children or if the Gaulthair Children have more to add, it will be revised. This is Gary's story basically but it is also the tale of the others. I would like to see this grow. Karolene sent some pictures to Frances that I would like to have and include. I am also supposed to get some pictures too. The missing pieces are less but not gone.
Warts and all, my little tiny book is done for now and I am sending in the final draft. I can't do anything more with it until we get more information. I want to get it out to the Gaulthair kids although I don't think it will be done for Christmas. I am letting them know that if there is something they want to add or change, I can always revise it. This has been difficult but rewarding for me as I have found what Gary wanted. He is completely happy with the new family.
It was fun to get the proof copy. It's much more real in print. Still, by the time I got the book in the mail, I had already rewritten the last chapter. I am much to close to this story so I've had a friend read it and make suggestions. She came back with an outline I found really helpful. I have one more friend reading it and hope to have it done and back for printing next week. It is not a masterpiece. However, I hope it's enough for all the kids to get a handle on the facts and provoke more thoughts and memories. This really is a never-ending-story.
Ann Eliese Hinds
We know a little about adoption. Gary was adopted but we also adopted our grandchild. It has added a whole new dimension to our lives.