Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Catching Cousins

I am not much into fishing, but when I stumbled upon the phrase, “Cousin Bait,” I got hooked by the concept—not because I favor tackling squirmy critters, but because of that eternal hope that my online postings will somehow (hopefully like Velcro) snag some passing, distant relative. I want to make connections. Family connections.

The first time I ran across the term, I was reading a blog post about Geneabloggers. The author, Sheri Fenley, was cataloging the various reasons why people write genealogy blogs. In the midst of the predictable litany, out popped this phrase. When I saw it, I had to laugh: it couldn’t have caught my eye any more if it were festooned with neon lights. An apt way to put things, the term sticks.

I mulled over the phrase for a few days, then wanted to revisit the site—but forgot where I first caught the article. “Google to the rescue,” I charged, but the right link didn't surface. Instead, I found multiple replications of the idea, including some titles with aplomb. “Cousin Bait” is, indeed, how some people roll.

Part of the reason I was attracted to the concept was that—after all, being honest here—I really hope that someday, I’ll get this wonderful email from a never-before-heard-of cousin who will tell me he or she has all the answers to my genealogical quandaries and will set everything right.

In my dreams.

After all, what right do I have to hope that my mystery Gramlewicz great-great grandmother’s descendants will ever materialize? I’m being pretty ridiculous to think I’ll hear from any Aktabowskis, either. But I can hope.

On a more realistic plane, I did hear from a distant cousin just this past week. Granted, the name was more common—Tully—but it did revive hope in this online process of sharing what I’ve learned with those nameless, faceless others out in the ether.

Sometimes, the process comes slowly: in this case, someone found a tree I had posted on regarding my Tully line, and sent me a message there. Turns out we were merely researching outlaws, but he had a closer contact to pass along for me. That contact yielded me the wonderful treasure I received in the mail last week.

I’ll keep trawling for that audacious hope, but in the meantime, it looks like line by line, here a little, there a little, will be what gives me clear sailing on this genealogy fishing expedition.

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