February 20th, 2011

my head is harder than that particular wall

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

One of the lovely things about genealogy in thisdayandage is that it's really non-challenging to pursue lots of lines of research simultaneously. My tree is online so someone else is doing backups for me, and, further, they collect all kinds of data which they grant me access to in exchange for a monthly fee to my credit card which might be perceived as onerous to some but is not worrisome to me.

The really lovely thing about switching from one line to another whenever one gets a _little_ too frustrated, is that all the tricks that you learned to try on one person (and kept failing) often produce results elsewhere. So today, having whacked my head against Great-Uncle Elmer's career as an able seaman a few too many times (specifically, I was finding things, but while entertaining -- he's 5'6" and 150 lbs give or take for much of his adult life, and has no tattoos -- they weren't giving me names for the kids that I could turn into facebook searchable names of grandchildren through the wonder that is pipl.com), I tried some other things.

First up: look up more marriages in the Washington State Digital Archives. This is sort of like fishing with dynamite. You _will_ find things (at least, you will if you lived in Washington State your entire life and can remember anyone's name) and they _will_ provide at least a few minutes worth of entertainment (why did they get married _there_? Wait, I _know_ the officiant. And one of the witnesses, too! Etc.) -- but they might or might not be what you care about. I continue to fail in my efforts to find my grandparents' marriage, and my aunt's as well (for that matter, my first marriage isn't showing up -- there are holes in what has been put online). Weirdly, I found grandma's twin sisters marriages in 1928. They drove all the way down to Seattle to find a jp -- and brought dad both times, mom once, and twin sister once (going by the witnesses). License and ceremony on the same day. I'm thinking great-grandpa may have had a much, much bigger problem with religion than just having a hate-on for the group that would become Jehovah's Witnesses.

Feeling pretty good, but not great (didn't find the grandparents' marriage license) about that exercise, I thought I'd bang my head against the wall that is my grandfather's arrival in the US. I knew when he'd left (1914). I knew which port he left from (Rotterdam) and therefore which port he must inevitably have arrived in (NYC). Shouldn't be hard to find, right? Except I've banged my head against this wall before to no avail.

As I'm paging through the really ridiculous number of proposed matches on this search, I'm thinking, goddess this is a pointless waste of time. I've hit my head against this particular wall so many times now I'm not sure why I keep doing it hey wait, what's _that_? The right year? The right departure port? And a relatively minor misspelling?

A couple of clicks and I'm looking at quite legible handwriting that gives the _town_ my grandfather was from (which I know, and believe me, there weren't two people by that name in that town, much less emigrating in that year) and _his father's name_ as a next-of-kin.

On the one hand, yippee! I've got the coldest, hardest, most certain confirmation imaginable that this is _indeed_ the right record. On the other hand, wow, if I had no mortal clue about anything, this would be really helpful in terms of figuring out where my grandfather came from. Only, I've already been to visit the village itself, so that's a wee bit of a let down.

But nevertheless, woohoo! My head outlasted that wall!

ETA: And look, there's older brother on the exact same boat the previous year. With a buddy from the same tiny town. Hmmmm.