[I am working my way backwards through Amy Coffin’s 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy because I wasn’t paying attention the first half of the year. This is week #30…Serendipity]
This happened sometime in the mid-1990s after I began volunteering with AOL’s Genealogy Chat. Because of chat, I came into contact with many genealogists and learned of different online resources. One was a database of people working on their Portuguese roots.
One day when I was going over the list, I saw the name of a woman who had roots in Oakland. Her name was Margaret. Something about her entry caught my eye so I sent her a note.
Margaret and I were not related, but we continued to exchange emails. It was in the course of those emails that we realized we connected in deeper ways. Margaret grew up in the same neighborhood as my Pacheco, de Braga, and Bonita cousins. Not only did she grow up in that neighborhood, her father lived with my Great Uncle and Aunt, Antonio and Alexandrinha Pacheco, when he first came to America.
It was because of these ties that Margaret had stories and information about many of my grandfather’s cousins. She had grown up with them, gone to school with them, and lived next door to them when she married. When I mentioned a name, Margaret was able to supply a different aspect of the family history through her own memories.
I can’t begin to tell you how valuable Margaret has been to my research. Where many of my entries are names, places, and dates, Margaret was able to fill in details about their character, their nicknames, and stories about their lives. These are things I would never have found out through my research. Though Margaret didn’t know my side of the family, she knew practically everyone else.
I could have looked at her entry in that database and concluded their was no connection. But, something made me send that email that day. I am so glad that I did. We all wish we could talk to someone who “was there”. I’ve actually had that chance! My genealogy would not be what it is without Margaret’s willingness to share.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com