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October is Family History Month

October is Family History Month.  My first thought upon learning this is, isn't every month?!  

Seriously though, this reminder is the perfect opportunity to reboot my genealogy.  As I said in my very first post here, I have been working on my family tree for ten years. I have notebooks filled with notes scribbles, binders  of yellowed newspaper clippings, and lots of old photos of people and places I don't recognize. It is time to get organized.

Lofty Goals-

I have to admit its a little overwhelming.  There has been more than one day in the last month that I wanted to stay home from work to just work on my genealogy.   I have been working hard to create my tree on the Ancestry site since I sent off my DNA.  I have 80 pages of matches!  I don't know if I will ever be able to get through it all.  There is so much I want to do. There are classes to take, timelines to create, notes to revisit and most importantly I want to review all the information and sources I have on each family member and create a cohesive narrative into something to my family will be able to read.  

More than once this week I have been reminded of the sage lines in the classic Ann Lamott book about writing, "Just take it bird by bird."  And I guess that is all that any of us can do.  

Serendipity and Surprises-

Last month I posted about how I quite accidentally came across a small newspaper entry from 1981.  A woman from Montana was searching for her relative, Olga Poyhonen Roe.  

Olga Roe was my great grandmother.  The Poyhonen's are the group I know the least about and the family I find the most frustrating. I was full of joy and dread at the same time.  What a great lead!  But I was 30 years late in responding, would this person still care? Was she even still alive? What would I say, "Sorry I am late, but I was in 6th grade when you advertised."

I was able to find her via some internet searches and sent off my letter. And waited and waited. I was starting to give up hope.  

Yesterday, the phone rang and it was her!  Alive and well and happy to connect! We talked and discovered that her grandfather was my great grandmother's brother!  Apparently, there were a few brothers who came to America, one who stayed in Finland and one who migrated to Russia.  We will talk again soon and hope to make plans to meet this summer.  

Genealogy is full of surprises. It can bring me to tears of frustration and tears of joy in the very same day.  

This week I am celebrating Family History Month and taking a break from my computer work by attending a workshop led by Cyndi Ingle of Cyndi's List at the Tampa Library.  


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The earliest documentation I can find for Elizabeth Cassidy is the 1855 New York State Census.  She is 5 years old, referred to as Betsy Ann, the daughter of George and Mary Cassidy.  She is their second child of eight and the oldest girl. 

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