06 April 2010

Doing the happy dance!

We all like to read about genealogy "happy dance" moments!

From my dear friend Rosanne Leeson (Los Altos, California), comes this delightful email. She wants everyone to be as happy as she is now after watching the Matthew Broderick episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" and following a clue on the show to the solution to a Civil War family mystery.

Her family arrived very early in the USA (pre-Civil War) and she is an experienced and seasoned researcher of her Jewish family.
Wow! I am sitting here with tears in my eyes!

I have just had my first benefit from watching the "Who Do You Think You Are?" show!

Saw the last one with Matthew Broderick, when he finds his great-great's grave in the Marietta GA National Cemetery. I never even knew that such a cemetery existed, or that they had moved Union dead there from Atlanta.

I had been hoping for ages to find out what ever happened to my great-grandmother's youngest brother, who she had brought over to the US from Bavaria in the early 1860's. I had gotten his record from NARA, knew when and where he had died (in a hospital in Atlanta of miliary fever).

Had asked someone in Atlanta to try to find out what had happened to his body. The only answer I got was that they had probably thrown his remains into a common or pauper's grave. NICE!

He had only been in the US a short time, spoke very little English, but signed up to fight for the Union cause in NY, where my great-grandparents were living. He was 20 years old when he died. I always felt so sad that there was no closure for any of the family descendants.

Then I learned about the Marietta National Cemetery. Got online and found not only history of it, but a list of those buried there. BINGO! Great-Grand-uncle found!

I just called the cemetery and the gentleman was wonderful. They are sending out someone to see if he had a stone and, if so, to photograph it for me, and send in a week. He said that he thought there might be a stone or his name would not have been on the list. If not, I will order one. No fee for a picture! Their duty and pleasure to add closure after nearly 150 years!

Rosanne, a semi-retired librarian, is a consummate genealogist, specializing in Romania (RomSIG) and Alsace (has translated many records and visited over the years). She's also vice president of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society.

What this points up is that even very experienced researchers can learn something every day!

We never know when a ray of sunshine will illuminate that lost record that has eluded us for decades. We never know when a resource may provide a missing link.

I'm sure all Tracing the Tribe readers join me in congratulating Rosanne on her achievement, and congratulating WDYTYA on providing the clue.

Our well-known colleague Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak noted this post in her most recent Huffington Post article. Thanks, Megan.


  1. Congratulations to Rosanne! What a great feeling that must have been, discovering the Marietta cemetery and gggrans little brother. chills!! Maybe thank you notes to Lisa Kudrow and NBC are in order.

    I'm doing a happy dance for Rosanne too!
    Judy Simon

  2. Anonymous5:55 AM

    I did a dance for Roseanne. No matter how long you have been researching, you still occasionally have those AHA moments. Just wanted to let everyone know that you can find the list of Federal cemeteries administered by the VA at http://www.cem.va.gov/cems/listcem.asp
    The list is by state.
    Marlene Bishow

  3. What a ray of sunshine this is! So happy for Rosanne!!!

  4. Wonderful story. And, I'll bet there many more out there, that we haven't heard of yet... ;-)

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Bill ;-)

    Author of "Back to the Homeplace"

  5. Included a link to this in my latest HuffPo piece: http://huff.to/cL1dOd