My chief complaint, when serving as genealogical guinea pig, is that people mistake my bumbling demonstrations as lack of knowledge, when my goal is merely to provide a down-to-earth example of how almost anyone can tackle the same research problem. My hope, of course, is that others give it a try.
My greatest joy, on the other hand, is seeing someone follow suit and try something new, leading to a personal genealogical victory of sorts. I had the opportunity to hear of one such triumph yesterday.
It was over coffee—the place, it seems, where I conduct far more productive business than one would assume, given the social setting. I was meeting with a friend whom I had known for years, as we had been co-workers at not one, but two different agencies throughout our careers. A mutual friend of ours, now out of town, had recently contacted this friend with a proposal for a day trip: "Let's spend the day in Sonora."
Sonora, if you know anything about northern California geography—or recall having me mention the foothill town in one of my photo-rescuing posts—is one of those places which once drew throngs of people seeking their fortune from the Mother Lode of the California Gold Rush. Now,
It was to those antique stores that my friend and her traveling companion headed recently. On the ninety minute drive up there, my friend mentioned how I go up to various foothill towns to search for abandoned old photographs to rescue and return to family members. She described the process I use, including which pictures become the most likely candidates for successful returns. By the time they arrived in Sonora, they were both primed to give their own experiment a try.
Of course, Sonora being the type of place it is, you will not find it surprising to learn my friends found several photographs to buy. (No, though it may seem like it, I did not purchase all available pictures at Sonora antique shops during my last visit; there are many more available for others to try their hand at the project.) Once back home, it didn't take my friend long to locate a descendant of an Italian family from the Chicago area whose nicely labeled family portrait had ended up in Sonora. Now, she was asking me about the next steps to take, excited to tell me about what she had already discovered in this pursuit of someone else's family tree. The excitement certainly is contagious!
Just enjoying this review of the process reminds me that I have a few more photographs remaining from my last foray to Sonora, myself. Perhaps next week, while in the background I continue wrestling with my Virginia kin, I can pull those pictures out and see about finding a way to send them home, too.