Monday, October 30, 2017

Day Thirty: Wait! Thirty?

I thought this month would never finish, but now that it has—nearly—I'm wishing for more time.

Today, in my Fall Cleanup project, I squarely faced the task of dispatching all the files in the folder for "R." Yes, that meant double-checking each of the issues of the Rootsweb Review before tossing it—mainly a perfunctory exercise. But it also meant uncovering an equally hefty folder under the heading for one surname I've yet to conquer: Rinehart.

The contents of the folder included genealogies offered up by several other researchers on this particular Rinehart line—from Greene County, Pennsylvania, some of whose descendants migrated to Perry County, Ohio—including their speculations on just what the roots of this family might have been.

I say "speculations" because that is all we were left with: guesses. No one seemed—at least, back in the 1990s when I last addressed this puzzle—to have found any documentation for any of the assertions which had been flung across the nascent Internet with abandon.

At least one of the people in on this Rinehart discussion was a woman who had a copy of her grandfather's journal, in which he had been careful to note his recollections of various long-gone family members. That was about the closest we could come to knowing anything for sure.

When you think about it, someone recalling, in the 1990s, a by-then deceased grandfather might have been referring to someone born in the 1890s. That grandfather, in turn, might have been able to remember stories of his ancestors which stretched back another hundred years. It might be feasible to conclude that such a person might have had enough time on his hands to actually be accurate in recording his memories.

Or not. We all know how family legends evolve.

Finding the Rinehart file and all the conversations surrounding this one root in my mother-in-law's heritage made me wonder whether I could now piece together all these hints and assumptions and draw up a tentative proposal for a family tree. That, in turn—somewhat like search angels might do for an adoptee hoping to find a birth family—might be a solid enough hypothesis to run through some stringent tests to see if supporting documentation can be located. After all, it's been almost twenty years since I addressed this research issue. A lot has materialized in digitized records—and even in finding aids for local collections.

With that in mind, I ended up keeping about seventy percent of the Rinehart file I originally started out with. It's still a sizeable stack. I assuaged my organizing alter ego by means of a reminder that I had just tossed an entire folder of like size not one hour previously. Surely that would count for something.

Above: "Farmhouses with Autumn Colored Trees," undated oil on cardboard by German landscape painter Walter Moras (1856 - 1925); courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

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