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  • Writer's pictureDon Anderson

A Tale of Two Stories.............(and two pictures)

Two dealing strictly with genealogy and the kindness of others;

the other involves genealogy and DNA and the privilege of

helping a new cousin add a number of branches to her family tree.

1 Three hours to find my grandparents

Date - 7/14/15

Something was missing. I hadn’t the foggiest idea as to where my grandparents, Keith and Margaret McIntosh were buried. In fact, I had very little in the way of information or pictures regarding either one. I had their names, birth and death dates, location and marriage record. Keith had died April, 1973 and Margaret, December, 1978. Since they had died in Salem, the most likely source for answers was the Statesman-Journal, the local newspaper.

What to do??

An impulsive idea struck me. That afternoon, I had three hours open in my schedule. Why not go on a road trip to Salem? Maybe I’d get lucky and find copies of their obituaries in the local paper. I decided to travel to the main library in downtown Salem. Did I have enough time to actually pull this off?

Most public libraries carried archived copies of the local newspaper on microfilm, and in this case, the Salem Statesman-Journal would have printed the obituaries. I had never been to the Salem Public Library, but I did have directions courtesy of Mapquest. It took me close to an hour to get to the library and find a place to park. I kept thinking I’d probably run out of time before I accomplished my mission.

There were two hours left.

I entered the library and found the information desk. I asked about archived Statesman Journal issues and was told they were over with the microfilm machines. To save time, I asked the woman at the information counter to help load the film. She offered her services. Eagerly, I agreed to let her proceed. Knowing the dates of their deaths, I easily found the film that corresponded. Once she had set the film into position,

I began to search by date. In about ten minutes, I had found the obituaries for my grandparents, Keith and Margaret McIntosh. A copy machine was conveniently connected to the microfilm equipment. After I had made a couple of copies of each obituary, I looked at the library clock… I completed the task in 20 minutes.

One hour and forty minutes were left.

Back in the car, I read through their obituaries and spotted an unexpected piece of information- the name of the church they had attended while living in Salem. How would I locate the church?

Sure that Salem had a visitor’s center, I drove to the center of downtown and looked for signs. I spotted one almost immediately. I turned left at the corner, and there it was. Parking my car about a block away, I entered the building. “Can I help you?” the woman behind the counter said cheerfully. “Yes, my grandparents were members of the First United Methodist Church. Do you happen to know where it is located?”

She looked directly at me and pointed. “If you turn around and look out the window, the church is the big brick one about a block away. What I saw was unbelievable. Not only was I looking at the church, but I had parked my car right in front of it! If I had looked more closely at the surroundings when I got out of the car, the sign for the church would’ve been clearly visible.

Before I left the visitor’s center, I asked if she knew where the mortuaries listed in the obituaries were located. “Sure, one is about a mile away from here.” She gave me directions and I thanked her. Hurrying out the door, I made my way to the church office.

I found the office open and told the church secretary that my grandparents had been members there. I asked if they had any records, documents and pictures that might have been kept in the church archives. She made copies of the obituaries I was carrying. “If we find anything, we’ll mail it to you”. I gave her my address, thanked her and proceeded back to my car.

Twenty more minutes had passed.

I drove to the mortuary parking lot where my grandfather Keith’s services were held, which was one mile away. “Can I help you?” A man greeted me at the front desk. “I was wondering if you could tell me where my grandfather Keith McIntosh is buried.” I explained that his service had been performed there in 1973. “Just a minute, I’ll check our records.” He confirmed that they had done the services and called the company that handled the cremation. There was a new piece of the puzzle. I then assumed that both Keith and Margaret had been cremated. After the receptionist hung up the phone, he gave me the answer. “Your grandfather is interned in the cemetery on the hill. Turn right out of the parking lot, go one mile, and turn right. At the top of the hill, it’s on the right.” Never being much of a risk taker, Idecided to become one. I had the feeling that both of my grandparents were interred at the same cemetery. Margaret had a different mortuary listed in her obituary, but quite likely was in the same location.

Ten more minutes had passed.

One mile and a hill later, I pulled into the main gate of the cemetery and spotted the office on the right. I parked and went inside. Would I find someone to help me? No one was in the receptionist’s area. I heard voices in an adjacent room to my left. I didn’t want to interrupt what was going on. Time was running out. After waiting a few minutes, I decided to begin searching on my own. Just as I was ready to leave the office an employee came through the main door.

“Can I help you?” “Yes, my grandfather is interred here, and I don’t know where he’s located.” The man was to the point. “What’s his name?” I said two words. “Keith McIntosh.” “McIntosh, huh? Well, I’m Scottish too. In fact, there are a lot of Scots here!” His Scottish pride really showed as he spoke those words. In a few seconds he’d found what he was looking for and said, “Follow me, He’s in the mausoleum. I’ll take you right to the spot.” Once again, I had been amazed how quickly things were happening.

The mausoleum was just across the street from the office. Within one minute, we were standing in the center of the building. “Here he is, and it looks like his wife is next to him. Have a good day.” I thanked him as he left. I was all alone with my grandparents. To commemorate this experience, I took a couple of pictures with my phone, then decided to sit for a moment. I marveled at what had transpired.

In less than two hours - I had been successful in finding the obituaries, locating the church, visiting the mortuary and viewing my grandparents’ resting place. Gratitude filled my thoughts as I headed home, with time to spare.

#2 A whole lot of Stanleys

Just a few weeks ago, a new DNA cousin match appeared on my match list with AncestryDNA. Intrigued with the amount of DNA shared, I looked at our shared matches. Low and behold, she shared DNA with my Stanley line.

She had posted a family tree with ten names. There were two Stanley!

Now the hunt was on……...was this a Stanley match? I decided to message her,

You showed up as a match today. I noticed you have Arlene Stanley in your tree. Adeline Stanley is my Great Grandmother and I believe we are related through that line. Do you have any information on Arlene's parents? If you are interested, I have a substantial amount of information on the Stanley family and would be willing to share. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Would she respond??

The next day she did, providing me with her connection to the family. She responded,

Arlene is my grandmother. Her parents were james stanley and roxie dell may. I hope this is helpful. I would love to learn more!

I thanked her for confirming my assumption. I was also able to tell her how we are related.

Sounds great! Thanks for getting back to me. I just put together a descendant's chart connecting us. We are 3rd cousins, once removed. (a generation off). Please send me an e-mail and then I can share pics and other info.

I sent her me e-mail address with the offer to share all that I had been given during the search for my dad.

By having my DNA tested, I continue to interact with new cousins – building relationships and exchanging family information that either of us may be missing. Branches and leaves just waiting for us to add to our trees!

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