Saturday, December 2, 2017

Desperately Seeking Stories

It's gotten so bad, even my daughter's friends are sending suggestions. I'm finding myself inexorably pulled away from the stories I've loved so much and into the morass of unadulterated genealogy. I am drowning in begats, with no delightful details to put flesh on the bones of those names, dates and places. If we must pin down the date of the crime, couldn't we at least get the chance to learn a bit more about the whodunit?

So my daughter's friend suggests taking a drive up to the foothills. After all, those were the same hills that drew people from all over the world, at the height of the California gold rush. So many came there, made their fortune—or went bust—and returned home, wherever home used to be. But many stayed on and called home towns with picturesque names like Angels Camp, Railroad Flat, or Jenny Lind.

Over the years, those California transplant forty niners surely received letters from folks back home, sometimes even letters containing photographs of sister's new beau or brother's new set of twins.

Fast forward one hundred sixty years or so, and those photos end up in antique shops. Of which there are several up in those same foothills. That's where this friend came in: she suggested I go looking for more stories up in the back corners of the antique stores up there. Surely there will be some CdVs up there with a name stuck on the back. Perhaps that would be worth a story to pursue.

When I first started this blog, it was with the intent of sharing all the family stories I had already located about the many branches of our families. In both my own and my husband's family, those stories abounded, making for some easy sharing. As the weeks—then months, then years—flew by, there still were more stories to share, many which only made their appearance after a serious stint of research.

Now, I'm beginning to wonder: is there no one else in this family with a story to discover? I'm adding at least a couple hundred names to the various trees I'm researching on a biweekly basis, including confirming documentation about the details of their genealogy—those dreary dates of birth, marriage and death. I'm also following the trail of each of these new adds decade by decade with each census enumeration. Included with that is trailing the line of each sibling in that generation, then researching the descendants of those same siblings, following the same protocol of documentation.

And yet, no new stories. Maybe it is true: farmers make a boring lot. Hard working, but unremarkable. Nobody is off to seek his fortune, or gain the glory of a hero's life in a war. Nobody has gone off to college to break out of the mold and better himself. Nobody's even played the part of the town scoundrel or landed himself in jail. Nothing that even hints of a grand story.

It may turn out that I'm forced to take that drive up to the foothills, after all. If that's where the stories are, sure, I'll try my hand at poking through dusty bins in the back of antique shops. Who knows? Maybe I'll find another family treasure just waiting to be sent back home to Ireland.



  1. Take me with you! I want to go to Calaveras County or maybe Amador County or maybe even Tuolumne or Mariposa County. Let's make a day (or 1/2 day) of it.

  2. Sounds like a fun trip!! I hope you find some photos that are screaming a story:)

    1. Thanks, Far Side. I am hoping so. That area is full of history. Here's hoping I find some of it tucked away in a hidden corner of an antique shop!


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