She was born in 1955. When her mother and father left the hospital after her delivery, they went home without her. She had been given up for adoption.
On the other side of town, a childless couple had been waiting for three years for a little girl. At long last, here was a precious baby girl who needed a home. It was love at first sight. They paid the adoption agency $300 and took her home.
Growing up, Julie knew she had been adopted. She had been told a bit about her birth parents. Father was French, mother Norwegian. They were older. They could not afford financially to keep her. She thought the last name was Corday.
As Julie had loving and kind adoptive parents, she never had a need to find out about her real parents, who after all, did give her away at birth. Sometimes, though, she would day-dream about who her real parents were.
It wasn’t until Julie’s father had been gone for many years and her mother was passing, that Julie turned some thoughts toward her birth family. I have a genealogy business called Personal Pedigree. After not having seen each other much in the nearly 40 years since we graduated from High School, where we had been best friends, we had reconnected and renewed our friendship. During one conversation, I asked Julie if she was okay with me trying to find her birth-family. She said okay, but had some reservations. I told her to look through her mother’s papers the next time she was at her house and see if she could find something that would help.
Julie found a paper that said her name at birth was Annette Marcele Coudry and it gave her city of birth.
Keeping in mind all the clues we had, I search the records and finally found a Marcel Coudry who had been born in France. He had come to the US in 1920 when he was 18 years old and joined the US Army. This one was possible and he would have been “older” when Julie was born. Furthermore, Julie’s middle name could have been for her father’s first name. Was it only a coincidence? Records said in 1948 Marcel married Bernice Mack who was born in the state of Washington, hmmmm, that’s not Norwegian. Keep digging. Okay, Mack was a previous married name, but her maiden name was Strand. Sounding better. Her parents were both born in Norway, but came to America separately and met and married in Washington. That made Bernice Norwegian. All this is verified on the marriage license I found. This had to be it!
Oh boy, the detective in me was alive.
Sad news. Both parents are no longer living and had been gone for many years. It made me sad to think that Julie would not be able to meet and talk to her birth-parents. While searching I found there were two half-brothers and two full-brothers who were all older than Julie. This also made sense as five children would have been hard to support (on their marriage license, Marcel was listed as a shoe salesman and Bernice was listed as a receptionist). Three of the four brothers were listed as still living. There was a phone number for one full-brother. I let Julie know I had found a possible brother named Charles.
Cross my fingers that Julie will agree to a call to verify we have the right family. What will I do if she says no? Good news, she says go ahead. I will make the call and give Charles a chance to say he is not interested in meeting a sister after all these years, especially if this would disrupt his current life.
I am excited. I make the call. A man answers the phone. Is this Charles Coudry? Yes. Hello, you may not believe this story, but I am certain you have a sister whom you have never met. I tell him Julie’s story. He says that that makes sense. He remembers being a little boy and his mother coming home from the hospital to say she had a baby girl that was stillborn. However, he always thought it was odd that there was no grave to go visit.
We exchange e-mail addresses and I send him a picture I have of Julie from High School. He sends me a picture of him around that same age in the Navy. They do look like brother and sister. He sends a photo of their parents. She resembles them too.
Julie and I take a trip to meet her brother and his wife. Once they met, there is no doubt at all in any of our minds that they are truly brother and sister.
Julie’s adoptive mother had since passed away, and she is happy to have a very warm, kind older brother. He is equally delighted to have a younger sister. She is looking forward to meeting her extended family in the near future.
This search had a happy ending and is also a new beginning. This, in my books, is a reward in itself. It makes me smile every time I think about it.
Searching and finding the truth for a family, proving or disproving family stories someone heard while growing up, finding cousins one never knew they had in this or another country and just the excitement of the hunt is what keeps me searching late into the night and why I enjoy my genealogy business. Heck, it doesn’t even seem like work to me!
If you would like to go on a familial or ancestral hunt and see what can be dug up for you and your family, then contact me via my website, PersonalPedigree.com or e-mail me directly at email@example.com. I do my very best to provide you with documents, stories and pictures to back up what I found in my research.
You just never know what or who will turn up.
It is all good and well to search and find, through detective work, long-lost friends or relatives – and it IS exciting and very rewarding – but what about those you care about here and now?
A good friend just retired from many years of dedicated service in a Veterinary Hospital. We decided to make something that will evoke memories for her that she can cherish while at home.
Another friend and I collected up all her scrub shirts, cut them up and made a quilt, a pillow and a bag to hold them in. On the back we wrote out who it was from and thanked her for her work. It brought tears to her eyes when she received it. She can now sit in her living room, on her couch and just look on her lap and remember the good times and camaraderie. It also keeps her warm and comfortable – what more could you ask?
Here are some pictures, so you can do this or something similar if you like. I would like to hear what other ideas you have on this.
I was asked by a client to find out whatever happened to a cousin of his named Bud, who he had been very fond of. No one had seen or heard of Bud since about 1940. While doing my research, I found that Bud had a son named Conrad. Conrad was not known about by my client.
The flip-side of this story is that Bud was a father that Conrad knew virtually nothing about. He was told as a very little boy that his father had died. His mother and step-father took him one day to downtown Los Angeles and told him that he was changing his name. He was around 6 years old at the time and this was in 1941. This seems to have been an effort to keep him hidden from his real father.
He was told his name would be changed from Conrad Max to Larry Conrad (I am leaving last names out of this). He did not think Larry sounded very tough and protested this. In an effort to appease, he was asked what name did he want. He thought a moment and said “Jack”. So, he became Jack Conrad with a new last name.
A sad thing is that he grew up within a few miles of a whole family on his real father’s side that he never knew about – including my client. Both sides went about their lives for over 75 years not knowing each other, but yet, could very likely have crossed paths, they were so close.
Last year while searching for Bud, I discovered Jack by noticing an obscure reference that he existed in an unpublished book by someone who was writing about some ancestors of that family. I tracked Jack down through his birth date and other pieces of information and found that he lived within 45 miles of my house.
How nice it was to talk to him and go meet he and his wife. I was able to put together a little ancestry book for him that had photos of his grandfather (his real dad’s dad), newspaper articles about his real father, pictures of his father and stories of past and present relations. I introduced him to my client and my client was able to tell him things he remembered about his father – my client and Jack are actually 1st cousins.
I do not know where his real father ended up. The trail ran cold after he disappeared and assumed a new identity once he had escaped from the prison road camp in Trinity County, which was run out of the prison he was assigned to – San Quentin. No one had seen or heard of him since 1940 or so. Maybe one day, I will find out what happened to him.
It was with a sense of accomplishment that I was able to fill in some of the lifetime questions that Jack had about who his real father was, what he looked like and what really happened to him. He proudly keeps his ancestry book in his home and shares it with others.
Solving the little mysteries in life is a good thing…
WORDS FOR THOUGHT
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.”
“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
“One determined person can make a significant difference; a small group of determined people can change the course of
Working in the field of Genealogy has given me a definite perspective of life and, in the long view, a perspective against which I gauge my activities.
Do you ever wonder if what you do today matters? Many ads you see tell you that you only have one life to live and so they encourage you to do what you want to get the “most” out of life.
Well, without going into a big religious or philosophical debate, let’s just stick to what the words associated with Personal Pedigree mean and go from there.
PERSONAL: Concerning a particular person and his or her private business, interests, or activities.
PEDIGREE: A line of ancestors; a lineage. A list of ancestors; a family tree. A chart of an individual’s ancestors. This word comes from Middle English pedegru, from Anglo-French pé de grue, literally, crane’s foot; from the shape made by the lines of a genealogical chart.
GENEALOGY: An account of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor. This word comes from Middle English genealogie, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin genealogia, from Greek, from genea race, family + -logia -logy; akin to Greek genos race.
ANCESTRY: A line of descent. This word is also Middle English: from Old French ancestre, from Latin antecessor, from antecedere, from ante ‘before’ + cedere ‘go’.
Okay, so if you strictly look at where you came from and where your line of descent is going, even if you ONLY cared for your own family, you would want to do the best you can do for yourself AND for who will be affected by your actions after you.
Let’s look at a broader scale and some numbers. It is a fact that John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, who sailed to America from England in 1620 on the Mayflower (and who were married in America in 1622) are my 10th great grandparents.
Do you know that you have 4,096 10th great grandparents? This means you have 2,048 10th great grandfathers and 2,048 10th great grandmothers. From the other perspective (and of course, depending how many children each subsequent generation has), a 10th great grandfather could have tens of thousands of great grandchildren. As a matter of record, one national society that keeps track of descendents of John Alden and their spouses, five years ago, had records of over 54,000 people!
Now, what do you think your actions of today mean when you look at the fact that there may be, down the line, 50,000 and more people who your present-day activities will affect?
What if John Alden never married Priscilla? What if he decided to not stand up for his personal rights and stayed in England? What if he decided to just look out for “number 1” and wasted his life and talents away while “having fun”?
That would mean that today there are over 54,000 people who could not proudly call themselves descendents of one of the most influential people who came to America. They could not look to their ancestor, pull themselves up by their boot-straps and muster up a bit more courage to carry on.
It DOES make a difference what you do today.
I would like to hear your stories on how your ancestors actions made a positive or negative impact on you today – and what you are doing or not doing as a result of that.
Email your stories to me at firstname.lastname@example.org - I may publish one or two of them on my website.
WORDS FOR THOUGHT
”If you want happiness for an hour? take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day? go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year? inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime? help someone else.”
“The lives and happiness of our children, as far ahead as the mind can reach, depend on us today. If we succeed, posterity looking back will record that this was indeed man’s finest hour.”
Carl A. Berendsen
“We begin from the recognition that all beings cherish happiness and do not want suffering. It then becomes both morally wrong and pragmatically unwise to pursue only one’s own happiness oblivious to the feelings and aspirations of all others who surround us as members of the same human family. The wiser course is to think of others when pursuing our own happiness.”
Welcome to On the Trail. I will try to keep things informative and possibly helpful to you. You may write me and ask questions or comment as you wish. I really am very interested in finding relatives, restoring strained relations and anything to do with uniting families.
As you can see, here I am in England. I am in the St. Michael’s church yard in Brierley Hill. I have just discovered a grave of one of my ancestors.
There is a wealth of history and culture about Brierley Hill and the surrounding area of Staffordshire – now known as The Midlands.
Did you know that they built canals (complete with locks) in the 1800s to convey goods made in the area to the coast so they could be shipped around the world? The boats and canals are still in existence and use for travel.
I would love to hear back from you!