Several years ago, I connected with an elderly first cousin three times removed. Her grandfather, Francis Stephen Lamb, was my 3rd great-grandfather.
Through persistent sleuth work, I found her address and mailed her a letter. Her response was music to my ears: "I have the answers to all of your questions." From snail mail, our correspondence evolved to email. We traded messages back and forth for several months. She didn't own a computer, but would respond each week while she was at her local family history center. We even spoke on the phone a couple times.
She had a wealth of knowledge about our shared family history. Like a sponge, I soaked up all the stories and information she would share.
She told me, sadly, that no photos existed of Francis. She had never seen one. I resigned myself to the fact that we would never know what he looked like.
Yesterday, on Thanksgiving, I learned from this cousin's daughter that she had died last year on Thanksgiving.
I was saddened both to learn the news and to discover that I was unaware of her passing for an entire year. I searched online for her obituary. Turning to FindAGrave.com, a series of clicks through her family line brought me to Francis' memorial page.
After the page loaded, I was
very pleasantly surprised ecstatic to see a photo of Francis that had been uploaded by another user earlier this year. He had been photographed after all!
It felt serendipitous to discover the photo on the same day I learned of the passing of his granddaughter who believed no such picture existed. Perhaps she had a hand in directing me to the picture.
This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for distant cousins who share family history and hair-raising, serendipitous finds that bring you face-to-face with your ancestors.
|Francis Stephen Lamb pictured with two of his children.|
Photo used by permission.