We assume that our family members cannot help us in our efforts to piece together our tree. We assume that since our relatives have not talked about the family, they know nothing. Back in 2008, the year my beautiful mother passed on, I started out with one sheet of paper with a few names. It was my grandfather Westmoreland’s family. Later, relatives gave me obituaries, photographs, and I took notes from conversations, no matter how small the detail. I came by this info because I asked questions, lots of them!
Before I go on, I want to look at how useful obituaries are. I use to collect them whenever I would go to a funeral; I saw them as souvenirs; something you tuck away and pull out when you are sorting through old papers. One day it struck me, I had gold nuggets in my possession. Obituaries tell us where our relatives were born, lived and where their parents are from. I took those obits and began my search on Ancestry.com.
It was scary at times when I would find, yes find, what I was looking for. The information that is so readily available overwhelmed me!
As I mentioned, my mom died in 2008. I got wind from an eighty something year old Westmoreland cousin that I had a great aunt, sister to my grandfather Westmoreland, who was still alive. She was the last child living of fifteen. She was from the first marriage of my great grandfather. She was ninety-two or so at that time. I got her daughter’s phone number, called her up and told her what I was doing. Keep in mind that I had never met this relative. As our conversation began to wind down, she said, “Delores, if you ever want to come for a visit let me know.” I immediately asked if I could come down the next weekend. She gladly said yes to my request. My mother never knew about her and looking at her age, I did not want to chance that she would pass on me; I trekked down to Norfolk, Virginia.
Armed with my brand new camera (with video capabilities) from a good friend who had no clue that she was going to be a vital part of my research ventures, I headed to Virginia to pick my great aunt’s brain. Oh yeah, I was dying to meet her, but she was a link to my Westmoreland past and future! She told stories of my grandfather’s life in Laurens, South Carolina. She talked about her cousin Drusilla Pilgrim. Pilgrim was the maiden name of my great grandmother. I did not discover this until I got home and started reviewing the video and researching.
Today, I have an information book for each grandparent! This all happened because I asked questions. SO, get to asking.