I mentioned to my husband that in light of our multiple downsizings, we were fortunate that neither of us is a collector.
My husband smiled and said, “I think you do have a collection. You have collected the people and ancestry in your family!”
“And yours,” I responded with a grin.
People ask, “How did you get into genealogy? Did your family talk about its history?”
“Not really.” My maternal grandmother (Nana) talked a bit about hers and claimed that we were descendants of Myles Standish of the Mayflower through her father William Herbert Standish. He died young in a carriage accident and was evidently the great love of her three-times married mother, Nellie Holley Standish Kidder Smalley. When Nellie died, her wish was to be buried with William.
But that was it. No big lore and to be frank, we all just smiled and humored her when Nana claimed the Standish connection. No one really took it seriously.
December of 2006 I was goofing around on the Internet. I stumbled on Ancestry.com and it offered free access to the Name Bulletin Boards. This is an extremely hit and miss way to do research because the conversations are in threads and can start about one family and end up about another, but I was fascinated! I did a name search on my real father’s name since my paternal grandmother claimed we were related to Joseph Priestley, the famous English scientist. I quickly discovered I didn’t know enough about that side of the family to find the boards of any use and so I tried my maternal grandfather’s name, There was a bit less to tread through for Baskett. I plowed through the list with an investigator’s zeal and finally, there it was.
Dorene Standish in Oregon had posted that she was looking for the family of Lorena May Standish Baskett. I shrieked with glee! That was us! That was me! I posted immediately that I was a granddaughter of Lorena through her daughter Marie and that I would love to correspond with her. She responded and soon a wonderful door was opened. Dorene was incredibly generous with her knowledge and time and she encouraged me to dig in and see what was in the family tree. She had done all of the heavy lifting getting her husband George (Nana’s nephew!) approved for General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) membership and all I really had to do was to document the generations between Nellie Holley and William Herbert Standish and me! I could do that!
I had no clear idea how to begin, but Dorene graciously took me by the hand and I started gathering hard copy documentation on these relatives. Birth, marriage, death certificates, divorces, and multiple states and it occurred to me although I was seeing many headstones online in FindaGrave listings and on Ancestry.com (Yes, I joined!”, I didn’t see any for my family as I built the application that would eventually ensure our acceptance into the GSDM and eventually the DAR.
Dorene solved the mystery for me. Our family had not been well off and although the ancestors were buried (mostly in one particular cemetery in Washington), there had not been funds for nice markers. Concrete with names and very basic information etched on it were what we found.
Dorene and I talked it over and if we wanted to change them, we were looking at two double stones and one single for another of Nana’s brothers who died in California. She checked the local monument makers and we decided to share costs. She and George would coordinate the placement of the markers. We decided together on beautiful granite with more engraved detail and in no time, it was done.
In 2013 Dan and I took a trip up to Washington and drove up to my old hometown and then to the Woodlawn Cemetery where so many of my family rest. As we searched through the headstones of all sizes, and some markers so old they had sunken deeply into the soil, I felt blessed that we had been able to help make this lasting change in our family’s history. Future genealogists will have a bit easier time tracing the trail and I was able to say goodbye one more time to Nana (Who was right all along!).
I love owning this particular “collection.”