I knew that my great aunt Margaret (or Mickey for many of us) had done a lot of research into the family history of her parents immigrant ancestors. My aunt died in December 2009, several years before the genealogy bug finally took hold of me. On a hint from my dad's sister I called Mickey's son and asked if there was anyway I could get copies / have / see her stuff.
There was silence on the line...
"Oh, I am so sorry. No one came and took it so I threw it all away about 6 months after she died. I had to sell the house and clean it up."
To say that I almost cried is an understatement. I was speechless and all I could muster was an "Oh my." He told me he would look through the house and see if anything was kept, but essentially I shouldn't get my hopes up.
I was not able to make it home for her funeral due to extremely bad weather there and here. Many of you may remember the 2009 -2010 winter as especially bad in the Mid-Atlantic States. We spent several days buried in snow without power. My dad could not make it due to my mom being very ill. If I had only known...
My first phone call after this revelation was to my father, who of course swears that he was never contacted by his cousin. Dad is a historian, and a pack rat. He would have driven the 20 hours to Indiana from his home in the southwest and cleaned out the rooms himself to save the files. Of course dad now wonders how much of his mom's research, that was given to Mickey, is now gone forever too.
Morale of the story: act TODAY and not TOMORROW on your family history artifacts, others in your family may not have the same longing for knowledge that you do.
photo credit: jana shea via photopin cc