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!