We were busy over the July 4th weekend and had plans the 1st, 2nd and 3rd. When my husband asked me what I wanted to do on the 4th, I told him I just wanted to hang out at home. He finished some projects in the yard and my kids hung out with neighborhood friends who were doing the same thing that we were. I decided to check out Ancestry.com again and see what I could find.

Genealogy is the thrill of the hunt for me so I wanted to work on a side of the family that I haven’t really researched. This is my mom’s paternal side of the family and more specifically, my great-grandmother’s family. She lived to be 98 years old and I was lucky to get a five generation picture that included both my daughters, me, my mom, my grandfather and my great-grandmother. How many people can say that?

My great-grandmother, Alice, was very sharp up until the last few months of her life. In 1990, I asked my mom, grandmother and great aunts (Alice’s daughters-in-law) and of course, my great grandmother over so I could interview them. They brought documents, pictures and their memories. I taped our conversation and took lots of notes. At the time, Alice was 88 years old. She told me the names of her siblings, parents, grandparents and could remember a lot of the birth and death dates. She even told stories of the family. My favorite story was of her grandparents, whom she remembers as Olaf and Minnie, meeting on the boat to come to the US.

So, more than 20 years later, I pulled these notes out again and decided that Ancestry was the place to find more information. I started typing in the names and dates of the people Alice shared with me and I found plenty of census records that matched. However, census records were hand-written and then interpreted by someone else to put into the computer. There were many misspellings. There is a way to correct them as a member of Ancestry – for example Steinhouse should be Steinhaus – and I kept running into the same woman making corrections on the records of my family.

I clicked on her name and saw she had posted on a few forums requesting information and/or answering a question someone else posted. It turns out the names and dates on these posts matched my family. I contacted her, knowing it might be days, months or years before I heard from her. Her posts that I was referring to were from 2004 and 2008. I was extremely surprised when I got a message from her a few hours later! Her name is Carole and we share the same ancestors in Olaf and Minnie.

Carole shared a ton of information with me since July 4th. We have emailed daily and she mailed two large packages of information to my house. In the packages I found the death certificates for Olaf (really Ole) and Minnie (Wilhemina – Minna) and tons of other stuff, including pictures. The most interesting pictures were of her dad and his siblings taken on a building rooftop in 1923. I have a picture of my grandfather, his mother and aunt taken on that same rooftop! The halfwall that goes around the edge of the rooftop has what looks like a padded side with strips of wood running diagonally. Although my picture is not dated, my grandfather is a baby, making it possible for it to be 1923. Carole said the picture was taken when they were gathering for her grandmother’s funeral – a possibility that those pictures were taken on the same day!

My picture - my grandfather, his mother, Alice and his aunt.

Carole's picture - notice the wall behind them?

So, while I split my time between work, kids’ activities, keeping a house running, and writing, I have to make time to update my genealogy records for this side of the family. With Carole’s help, I am able to trace this side of the family back to Denmark in 1635. She also found a cousin in Denmark who told Carole that the farm that Ole grew up on is still in the family. How cool is that?

If you have never used Ancestry.com, I highly recommend it. You would be amazed at how much you can find. You may even find a cousin like I did!