Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Nice Story About the Internet

Stuff that happens when you have a blog

Around the first of the year, I had a letter from a reader (I'll call him "Fred" for this little story.) Fred wrote that he was born in 1929 at Duff, Nebraska, the same little community where I lived as a child. His family moved to a different part of the county in the mid-1930s. As a young man, he joined the Air Force and left the area. He and his wife now live in Arizona.

Fred wrote that he had stumbled across Prairie Bluestem while searching for information about hay stackers. He asked if perhaps I remembered his uncle and aunt. I certainly do. They were neighbors who lived just a few miles from us in the Duff Valley.

Then, around the first of February, I stumbled upon a family tree on the internet that included the name of Fred's uncle -- the uncle whom I remembered from my childhood. I sent Fred a note, pointing him to the website, even though I figured he'd probably already seen it in his own research.

Several days later, Fred wrote back that he was very interested in that genealogy. He hadn't seen it before. He said he had called his sister and they'd had a long talk about the names in that family tree and how they were related.

I thought that was pretty cool, but that's not the end of the story. Today, I received another note from Fred about the family tree website. "What a surprise to dig into some of the genealogy," he wrote.

He attached a photograph from the family tree archives and a note he'd written to the site's owner: "Finally realized what a great photo this was for many of us in the family..."

Grandmother The photograph is an old family portrait. Fred was excited about it because it includes his grandmother (the sweet-looking lady at right,) some of his uncles, and other family members. One of the other ladies in the photo is the great-grandmother of the man who posted the family tree.

Fred estimates that his grandmother might be 45 or 50 years old in the photo. If I'm reading the family tree right, she was born in 1875, so that sets the photo sometime in the 1920s, before Fred was even born.

The news about the photograph of Fred's grandmother was one of the highlights of my e-mail tonight. Isn't the internet great?!

UPDATE: I read Fred's letter again, and I understood part of it a little better now. If I keep looking at his family tree. I guess I'll eventually get it all straight! He says he found a photo of his great-grandmother on that family tree website, also!

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.