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.