On Friday I had a patron come to visit me at the library. I have been helping Pat with a "brick wall" she had been trying to break down. In genealogy, a brick wall is basically a stopping point in research. There are no records to be found, the trail has gone cold, the information is not coming...or so you think. Genealogists work to break brick. Pat had come to see me several months ago. She had been researching her husband's family. Her husband had passed away and a family mystery had lingered. Her husband's father had told them many years ago, that he had been adopted. He knew that that his biological mother had perished in an apartment fire, and he knew nothing of his biological father. His name had been changed when he was adopted and thus, the name passed on through the family.
Pat and her daughter had been investigating the family mystery. Managing to find the adoption record of Pat's father in law, they had located a biological paternal last name for the infant born in 1905, of Whittaker. The baby, Pat's father-in-law, had been given up for adoption when only months old. Because of the early change, the records stopped and the trail, for Pat, went cold.
When she initially came to see me, I too, took up the records search for the biological parents. Pat had located the mother who had died in an apartment fire, months after her baby was born. The father, Whittaker, was no where to be found. After searching many records, I finally located the father's name on a Find-A-Grave memorial, as a brother, to the deceased on the memorial.
I have ALWAYS preached to my genealogy group, the power of reaching out, and encouraged Pat to email the owner of the virtual Find-A-Grave to see if she had any knowledge or history had been passed of a baby being given up for adoption. Pat emailed. Twice. With no response.
We had a genealogy meeting at the library on Tuesday. Pat came. She was understandably discouraged by the brick wall that she had hit. I logged into my Find-A-Grave account and located the memorial again. I copied the email address of the manager, the one also named Whittaker, and encouraged her to try again. The meeting ended and Pat left.
On Friday, working at my desk, before my shift, I heard an intercom call come through. I was requested at the front. It was Pat.
I sat with her on a couch that we have in the periodical section of the library. With tears streaming down her face, she said: "The first thing I want to say to you is Thank You."
She went on to explain that Sylvia Whittaker had answered her email and knew of the Whittaker man. They did not know about a baby having been given up for adoption in 1905. No "stories" had been passed on. But, she mentioned to Pat, if your son has a DNA test, have him upload it into Ancestry and we will see if it is a match.
Pat went on to tell me that when her son's DNA was uploaded, Sylvia Whittaker confirmed, they were a match, and the family had found a new family. The mystery had been solved.
But....here is the part that got me. Pat mentioned that on the day she had received the good news, she had been at the cemetery visiting her husband's grave. Upon her arrival she realized that someone had taken the balloon and the flowers that she had left for his birthday. She was discouraged and somewhat lost and feeling alone. Then....the good word about the broken brick wall.
I hugged Pat. I teared up with her. I asked her what her husband would think, and she smiled and said he would be amazed. Her son was flabbergasted, and she couldn't wait to tell her daughter but wanted to do so in person. They had an entire new family.
This is what genealogy does. It isn't just gravestones and records. It gives people back to the people who love them.