After my success researching my mom’s maternal line, I turned to her paternal line- specifically, her father’s mother.
Mom told me that her name was Pearl Rothwell and that she was a chiropractor. Easy peasy, I thought.
I turned to Canada’s free online census and began searching. It didn’t take long to realize, there was no “Pearl Rothwell” to be found. That was a disappointment. But, I reminded myself that not all records are online and many have been lost, so I gathered myself back up, and turned back to my trusty friend, Google.
For several pages of Googling, I found nothing. I was getting frustrated. I told people around me that clearly my family were circus people or were hiding from the law because there was zip, zilch, nothing, nada out there.
Then finally, a breakthrough. On a random message board, I saw someone post about an “Ida Pearl Craine Rothwell Onley.” Victory was mine!
I threw that into Google and there she was on Ancestry.ca. The picture that came up was the very picture that hung in my grandma and grandpa’s house for as long as I could remember.
I quickly Googled her and the owner of the picture and found yet another thread, this time on Ancestry, discussing who she was. The conversation was between an American man, Bill, who claimed Pearl as his great aunt, and a woman, Margaret, who claimed her as her grandmother.
“Wait a minute,” I thought. “Her grandmother? Pearl was my mom’s grandmother!”
I sat in shock for a moment. I had found my mom’s cousin. Not some random person, 16 times removed, but my mom’s actual first cousin. Fortunately, Margaret provided her email in the thread, so I emailed her right away.
She emailed back quickly and explained that she’s the daughter of one of my grandfather’s sisters. As a little background, my grandfather (who passed away when I was 12) was the youngest child and his sisters were quite a bit older than him. By the time I was old enough to know such things, they had all passed away, so to me, it’s almost like they never existed. I had never seen a picture of them, so until I found Margaret, it never occurred to me that they got married and had children. Which is silly, of course, but that’s childhood for you.
Margaret was gracious and we exchanged several emails. We’re now friends on LinkedIn, which is cool. She’s a writer, like me. That made me happy.
I also got to ask her a silly question. I’m the tallest female grandchild in my family by about five inches and I have over two inches on my mom. I was always told that grandpa’s sisters were tall and that’s where I got it from. Here was my chance to confirm it! Also, at the time, I was the only person in my whole family with brown eyes (since then, one of my uncles has had a brown-eyed boy). Was the brown eye gene tied to the tall gene?
I sheepishly asked, and she said no. She reported that she’s about the same height as my mom and her kid is short and no one has brown eyes. Oh well. It was worth a shot.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would find actual family on this adventure. Even if I hadn’t found anything after this discovery, I would have called it a success.
Next time, I’ll be covering my first epic #fail.