Making Family Connections

I consider one of the true gifts of the Internet and social media are the opportunities that I have had to connect or re-connect with family members some of whom I knew about and others that I never even knew existed.

My siblings and I have reconnected with our cousins on our father’s side of the family and had our first ever family reunion (talked about that here) this past Summer.

I posted about my paternal grandmother’s family’s millinery shop and mentioned the names of her older sisters.  That connected me with a second cousin who is helping me to learn more about these women, and we shared some family photos from the early 1900s.

A few weeks ago, one of our cousins from my mother’s side of the family reached out to us.  She is a retired librarian and has been working on her family’s genealogy which includes a fair amount of information on my mother’s ancestors.

I admit to being a little overwhelmed by all of this new information on my family ancestry, but I am in awe of the pictures that we have all shared.  Pictures of my family that would have been lost without our ability to connect via the Internet and social media.

This is a picture of the farmhouse and barns on the property where my mother lived as a young girl in Sherard, Illinois, circa 1944.

This is a picture of mother’s family from 1943.  My mother would have been about 8 years old in this picture.  She is the one wearing the sailor hat like her older brother.

My mother was the second to the youngest of 10 children.  Here she is with her younger brother and her grandmother.  Her grandmother died in the year this picture was taken.

This picture is from the early 1950s, and my mother would have been about 16 years old.  The two younger children are my cousins.  They are the children of my mother’s oldest brother (the sailor in the previous picture).

Here is a picture of my cousin and her family (again, her dad was the sailor in the previous picture) in 1954.

My mother’s family was splintered apart as a result of addiction to alcohol and abuse related to that addiction.  Cutting off behavior was rampant in this family and even continues to this day with a few of my own siblings and my mother.

So, I consider it a gift to get to know more about my ancestors, to meet my relatives, and to provide a connection from the past to the future for our children.

But in the east the sky was pale and through the gray woods came lanterns with wagons and horses, bringing Grandpa and Grandma and aunts and uncles and cousins.
– Laura Ingalls Wilder

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