Friday, September 18, 2015

Library Treasure - Forgotten Ancestors - Forgotten Research

A cousin walked through the basement level of an obscure library in London a few years ago randomly looking for titles that were of interest.banffshire_field_club_journal

An old black tome with the word Banffshire visible on the spine caught her eye.  Opening the book, the pages spilled out across the table.  The binding had failed due to age and the readily apparent years of hard use.

Picking up the page bundles, the name Gordon stood out on one of them.  A quick scan of the page resulted in a shout of joy.  The article covered our Gordon ancestry.  The information in the article came from private genealogical study paid for by our 5th great granduncle, Cosmo Gordon.

Although his name was Cosmo, like the famous Cosmo Gordon's of Scotland, he wasn't famous.  He did work for the British Government in relatively high level positions and was paid enough money to satisfy his desire to know his Gordon lineage.

A copy of the genealogy research report ended up in the possession of a family who allowed an author to copy it and include the data in an article he wrote for the Banffshire Field Club Journal.

Another genealogy legend was created.

Due to the condition of the book, my cousin wasn't allowed to copy it.  She quickly jotted down the facts in the article and sent them to me.

I looked for a copy of the article in the library catalogs across the States but found nothing.  I needed to see that article to completely mine all of the genealogy data and hints in it.

Eventually I found a listing for the Field Club online.  The didn't have a web presence as that time so the contact information came from one of the hundreds of search queries I sent out using every term I could think of that might result in a 'hit'.

After a few tries, I found a telephone number that rang in the Field Club offices when the historian was present.

I asked her if she knew of any publications in the States that may include the article I wanted to see.  Of course the answer was negative but just before we were going to ring off, she remembered that there may be a copy of the article on a shelf in the basement where the few extra copies were stored.

A week later, I received an email from her saying that she'd found one surviving copy of the 100 year old article and there were a few other articles that might mention the Gordon family.   I found a way to transfer funds to purchase the articles and send them to me.

When they arrived, they were just what you'd expect to see in a bundle that had set in the humid conditions of a basement by the ocean for a century.  The old metal staples in the fold were rust covered.  The paper was yellowed and stiff.  The contents of the article were pure gold.

Cosmo's report gave me clues that I never would have found here in my area 5,000 miles away from where they happened hundreds of years ago.

Anyone who has engaged in genealogy research in Scotland that involves members of clans knows that surnames often changed from the birth surname to the name of the clan.  Members of these families often did not baptize their children in the Church or England or in the more prominent Protestant churches, thus birth, marriage and death records aren't easy to find.   Cosmo's report included the names that have proven to be difficult to prove with sources.  I probably wouldn't have found them without the content in the report.

My Gordon ancestors were brewers and property owners.  Some of them didn't have sterling characters as witnessed in the actions of great uncle Alexander Duff, but most were honest people living their lives for their families and country.

The old Field Club Journal articles continue to yield clues as time goes on.  My research uncovers topics and snippets of information that resonate in my mind because of the information I've read in the articles.  The collective information frequently gels into clues that result in more proven ancestors and facts that support their existence.

The success in this story all derive from browsing through the aisles of an obscure library and the faded letters in the title of an old worn book catching the eye of my cousin.  She wasn't looking for nor expected to find information about our ancestors, but like all good genealogy stores, this story follows their common theme.....  Being in the right place at the right time and taking a few minutes to let the genealogy 'magic' happen.

Posted 18 September 2015 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog