I Wear Tight Genes

Wherein I attempt to relate the trials and tribulations of tracking down information on people who are dead, but bear some resemblance to me...when they were alive.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Hey, I Should Play the Lottery

Have you ever experienced one of those coincidences where you're forced the question the nature of the event over and over again until it's solidly in your mind as a good reason to go down to the local convenience store to play the lottery? Either that, or just stay out of lightning storms.

Well, a few months after I created my family tree site, my brother forwarded me a URL for an obituary. It was the announcement of the death of my great uncle, G.E. Valley. Because of a falling out between my grandfather and his brother, I never knew much about my great uncle. I read through the obituary in awe: Not only had George been instrumental in helping the Allies win World War 2, but his interests and lifestyle seemed closely matched to mine. I only wish I'd known him when I was in A.P. Physics in high school. That would have been a trip.

At the bottom of the obituary, it lists the "survived by..." section, which genealogists all over know is a true goldmine of information, particularly when you're dealing with an unknown person. My brother had forwarded the obituary in the first place because of one name on the list: John W. Valley, who's residence was listed as Madison, Wisconsin.

I googled him and quickly found that he is a professor at the University here in town, and I got his office phone number. One email and a phone call later, and I'd found my cousin (once removed).

Having never met before, and coming from families where even his generation of cousins had never met him personally, it was particularly interesting to both of us to meet up. After finding out that he lived about 5 blocks away from me, I started to have those lottery feelings again.

Anyone got a scratcher?


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