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Lost & Found

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Have you ever lost anything in a store, on a plane, at a concert, at church or even at home?  I’ve left books on air planes, lost small items at church and lost any number of things at home.  With the exception of our homes, once we realize we’ve lost something, we usually check with the lost and found.  Sometimes our items are safely stored in the lost and found; sometimes they are never seen again.  So, what happens when we lose people?  I know we don’t actually lose people, but we often lose contact with them.

The picture above, of my sister Harriet and her children, is probably from the 1970’s.  Back in the mid 1990’s I lost contact with my half-sister and brothers – Harriet, Raymond, Larry and Phillip.  In 1994 when my family moved from Delaware to Georgia, we lost a lot of files and paperwork. This was before cell phones, Facebook and Twitter and the internet was still in its infancy. Without common friends and relatives, finding people was not an easy task.

When I first started looking for Harriet, I tried telephone numbers that I had in some old-school address books.  I called phone numbers that I had for Harriet, Phillip and my dad’s first wife, Miss Elizabeth. I sent letters to the last addresses that I had and all I got was nothing, nothing, nothing!

To complicate matters, my father had a third set of children, one of whom I had never met.  All I knew about them was their names – Tina and George.  I met George briefly when he was about 5 or 6 years old.  I had an idea of their ages and I remembered their mother’s name was Barbara, but I didn’t have any common friends, addresses or phone numbers.  Needless to say, I had absolutely no idea how to find them.

Over the years, I conducted many internet searches and was unsuccessful.  Finally, on June 7, 2016, I did another internet search.  Again, I found some information on Harriet, all of which was old – old phone numbers and old addresses.  This time, I decided to expand my search to her children.  I found disconnected phone numbers and old addresses, but my search led to an entry that said my nephew Thaine had presence on social media. Jackpot! I headed straight to Facebook.

Facebook can be a massive time suck or a gold mine of information.  In one day, I went from having no information on my siblings to finding all of them.  Unfortunately, my brother Larry had passed away and so had Miss Elizabeth.

So far, contact with my siblings has been Facebook, text messages, and phone conversations. I’m looking forward to a trip to Philly so I can reconnect with Harriet and Phillip and connect with Tina and George.  I’ve also connected with my brother Raymond who moved away from Philly.

My search too over twenty years but it finally paid off.  I’m so glad that I kept searching and didn’t give up.

 

That’s My Daddy

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When I was five years old, my parents separated.  My mother left Philadelphia and went back to her home town of Nashville to help take care of her mother who was seriously ill.  Even though I was still living in Philadelphia with my god-parents, I didn’t see my father on a regular basis and when he did visit, we didn’t talk about family.  When dad died in 1985, I still didn’t know anything about his side of the family.

In 2012 I joined Ancestry in hopes of gleaning some insight into dad’s family.  After working my way through a ton of census reports for a George Washington born in Georgia, I managed to find one census document.  I don’t know why in the world so many people named their sons George Washington other than to teach me to carefully peruse documents in search of the one I needed. In addition to the census report, I found his military registration and a death record from the state of Pennsylvania.

Even though I was extremely frustrated, every few months I would run a search on dad’s name with no new discoveries.  Then one day in August 2015, I ran a search and the picture above appeared.  At first I started to ignore it but something said, click on the picture. I looked at it and said, “That’s my Daddy.” I looked at the information on who posted the picture and saw that it was posted by a Winnie Whitfield who labeled the picture “Uncle George and Maggie.”  I contacted her through  Ancestry messages and found out that she was my first cousin – the daughter of dad’s sister Essie Mae.

It wasn’t long before Winnie and I were talking on the phone and exchanging addresses.  By this time, I was living in Smyrna, Georgia and Winnie was living in her home town of Tifton, Georgia. Between phone calls and visits, Winnie and I have become close friends and she has shared a lot about dad’s family.

You never know when a random search will pay off.