Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday - A Little Information Goes a Long Way

It's Wisdom Wednesday, but I actually feel pretty stupid.

My great-grandfather's half-brother was cursed with a horribly common name: Henry Smith. Well, actually it felt like * I * was the cursed one. He was nearly impossible to search for between his common name and how little information I had on him. I had his birth date, but I had no idea when he died. I had a WWI Draft Registration card from 1917, and knew he had passed away by his brother's death in 1961. 44 years? That's a pretty vague date range!

I had a pretty good idea where he died though. That's the one nice thing about that branch of the family: once they crossed the pond, they settled into their new city and pretty much stayed there for the rest of their lives. On a whim, today I decided to email the town clerk of the place I was fairly certain he died in. I said I only had the name and birth date, but I figured it was worth a shot. And guess what? I received a reply a few hours later saying they had his death certificate on file! I am sending out a check first thing tomorrow morning. I can't wait to receive it! Even if it is a bare bones certificate with tons of "unknowns", it'll still provide SO MUCH information about this man that I know next to nothing about.

I've convinced myself for years that I was "stuck" with this man because I didn't know anything about him. One email and a few hours later, I've realized how very wrong I was. I'll be fanatically checking the mailbox for the next few weeks!


  1. It feels mighty good when we finally start to see small glimmers of light through those "brick wall" relatives we have in our family trees. Excellent! I wish you continued success with your research about this elusive ancestor.

  2. Good luck. It is great when we finally find something on a lost ancestor.