Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Middle-of-the-Night Visitors and Clues

Approximately 38 years and three weeks ago, I was at home in an apartment in Wheaton, Maryland, working on typing up a couple of years worth of genealogical research. I'd already been to Colorado a few months previous so was not traveling that holiday season.

As I typed away into the wee hours of one morning, I suddenly had a strong impression that someone had come to visit. Unseen and silent, his presence was still so powerful that I kept waiting for him to make an accidental noise. Living alone, you would assume that I would have been anxious about this experience. However, there was nothing threatening about his being there.

Eventually, I realized that he wanted me to see something in my notes. I turned page after page to see if he'd give me a clue about where to look. Nothing. With every find I've made in the ensuing years, I've wondered if that was what he wanted me to see.

No one's been visiting to any degree lately, except for new ideas and new information (much of it fueled by DNA tests). Nevertheless, as I read through the 1856 Des Moines County, Iowa, census page by page for probably the eighth or ninth time, I'm seeing little tidbits that could be clues. And having these pass through my brain, I find myself wondering how many details I'm sliding right over that could be part of a solution to my 40-year-old research problem. (I've pretty much given up on the "one" key piece of information that will trigger the crumbling of the brick wall.)

What to do? What to do? The only thing I can figure out to do is keep looking, keep reading, keep talking, keep learning, keep pondering, keep guessing, keep extrapolating, keep trying to notice all the aberrations and trying to figure out the whys and the wherefores.

Because that's what family historians do...either accompanied or all on their own.