Baby Steps

I previously wrote about a family mystery that was resolved only after the death of a relative, and how what we found looking through boxes gave us clues that led to the identification of that family in France.  I had no idea when I wrote that post that the story was not complete.  Identifying people by name and dates of birth, marriage, death, births of children, etc really is only a very small portion of the story.  I thought when I wrote that earlier post that I had gone as far as I could.  The full names of the 3 girls in the 1944 photo were identified, a 1946 directory linked them to their father.  Their father’s birth record linked him to the family but there was more.

How did I find the information?  The only real solid clues I had were the first name of a woman, her married last name and the town in which she lived in 1967, in France.  Contacting agencies in France, I looked around for someone with that first name who had married someone with that last name and I gave a range of years, guessing that she might have been about the same age as the American cousin to whom she was writing.  The range began with my guess at when she was about 18 years old (about 1915) and ended with the year in which the letter was written(1967).  Jackpot!  The marriage took place in 1930 and the record indicated that she had been married previously.  That marriage record identified her parents by name, and also her husband’s parents.

Then, looking for records in which her parents’ names occurred, I discovered the names of her two siblings.  One of them was the man in the 1921 photo of his marriage.  Documentation filled in the names of his spouse.  French records, at least those from Nancy are amazing – on this man’s birth record was a note of his marriage and also of his death.  I found similar notes on other documents.

The find of a 1946 directory linked this man to the 3 girls in the 1944 photo.  A look at a cemetery list gave me information about the death of the man and his wife and also of his sister, the writer of the French letter and her husband.

Poking around further, uncovered the marriage record of one of those 3 girls.  The cemetery list revealed the death of her husband.  A French phone book gave me a potential phone number and address, and this morning I spoke to a long lost relative in France who told me a little about her son and grandson.  The “French connection” sounded healthy and strong – I wish our summer travel plans were not etched in stone so we could rush off to meet her.  Hopefully in 2014 we will find her still healthy and strong when we travel to France for an amazing reunion.

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