It has been said, time after time, that when you start researching your family history, you should start with what you know and ask questions of those in your immediate family. I’ve asked my mom and uncle many things and they’ve been able to fill in some blanks. My uncle’s memory is phenomenal. We once spent four hours driving around Marion, Ohio trying to find the house where they lived when he was three. He recalled the route from the house to my mom’s elementary school, but we couldn’t find the house–at first. But when we finally did, it was exactly as he described. It was uncanny.

Their cousin managed to locate a bunch of family photos for me and she was able to tell me some stories about relatives gone long before I was born. My mom only had somewhat frightening memories of her grandmother, Emma Briggs Foster. In fact, Mom thought Emma was a witch. (Mom was pretty young and Emma wasn’t.) But Mom’s cousin was a little older and remembered spending time with her grandmother. She made Emma more real. I almost said “more human,” but that would be disrespectful to Emma. The last thing I would want to feel toward Emma is disrespect. (Bad enough I keep calling her Emma!) She’s the driving force behind my research.

Anyway, for as little information as I had about my mom’s family when I started, I think I’ve done pretty well at discovering things. I’ve been a little envious of those who had families who kept things. It’s been hard to do that in my family–or at least it’s been hard to keep track of the things that were kept–because we’ve always been on the move. Even I have managed to misplace a box of photographs I know I have somewhere. I had them in my last house, yet after 10 years of living here I’ve never managed to find them.

As for my mom, well, she’s had a box of family photos in storage since before I developed an interest in genealogy. Fortunately, said storage is climate controlled. Mom recently moved into a bigger space and as I type, she’s going through those photos. She’s several states away from me and her scanner isn’t connected yet. She called me to tell me that she thought she had found a photo of her paternal grandfather. I told her to take a picture of it with her phone and text it to me. I have a couple of very small photos of him, so I was pretty sure I could positively identify him for her. Sure enough, it’s him. And it’s a portrait that my grandfather (Mom’s dad) clearly took of him. Grandpa was very interested in photography and this picture proves that pretty much no one in his immediate family managed to escape his camera lens.

Mom has also sent me two other text messages, with photos of a couple of her cousins–along with the words, “And I’m a ways from the bottom. These were Mom’s and Grandma Branum’s.” I wonder what else she’ll find?

I’m so excited, I can hardly stand it!

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