Friday, October 6, 2017

Never Know Where your Cousins Are

Doing genealogy you get to meet a lot of people. One of my favorite things to do is descendant research, where I pick a set of ancestors and trace down all their children, grandchildren, etc. Doing descendant research I have found many people I have known for years to be related to me. They include people that I went to school with(up to 5 currently), co-workers & some my parent's friends/classmates.

About two months ago as I waited for my great great uncle's DNA results to finish processing from AncestryDNA, I started to do descendant research for his side of the family. I started with my 2nd great-grandparents, George Klein and Theresa Melinda Schifferdecker who had four children, George Jr, Margaret, Mary and my 2x great uncle. After I've finished collecting the records for the all descendants, I usually go and see if I can find anything else out about a cousin with a quick look up on Facebook. I typed a cousin's name in the search bar and found her profile easily. Turns out this cousin lives in the same town as I do. At this point questions start flowing in my head, "Have I ever seen this lady before," I wonder "if I have ever been at the same location as her and not have known it?" At this point, I was filled with curiosity. I was able to use records that are publicly available to advance my research. After seeing this information  I immediately jumped from my desk and did the "genealogy happy dance!" Not only does this cousin live in the same town as I, she lives in the same neighborhood subdivision as I! Oh wait, it gets better. She is my neighbor! Our two properties are adjacent to each other!

With this information, I quickly ran over to her house and knocked on the door. Luckily she answered! I introduced my self and showed her a photo album I have of George Klein's cement work. When meeting someone out of the blue it is always good to bring something to prove that you are who you say you are, in this case, it was the photos.  She invited me in and we talked about how we are related, we talked about family members and how everyone was doing. It was a great visit.

The second visit she invited me over and we shared some genealogical information with each other and she gave me some information I never had before. In this paperwork was two packets about our German ancestors who came from Germany to St. Clair, Illinois, they were written by another cousin. The packets contain a wealth of knowledge about the Klein, Benedic & Suss family, it included marriage details about my 4th great-grandparents, John Klein & Maria Anna Martin, the Kleins & Benedics story of immigration to America, naturalization records and more!

With each visit, I get to know more about my Klein family with family photos and family stories. Since meeting this cousin I have been in touch with three more cousins that descend from John Klein and Maria Anna Martin which means more information is passed on to me. One of the reasons I continue to do genealogy is for all the stories about my ancestors and even my cousins. I will always be an advocate for reaching out and connecting with your cousins. You never know who you might meet and what you will find out!

Pictured are Mary Louise Benedic and Bernard Klein, my 3rd great-grandparents. Pictures courtesy of Georgia Klein. 

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