Saturday, September 3, 2011

When the Lights Go Out

Today our power was finally restored from Hurricane Irene's impact on Maryland. All in all with the extensive damage the storm unleashed we were pretty fortunate. The biggest inconvenience our home suffered was the loss of electricity for almost a week.

Somewhere into the third day I started getting a little stir crazy, and maybe a wee cranky. What to do without the Internet? No blogging, Ancestry, or tweeting! Had enough of crossword puzzles, card games, and reading by candlelight.

Then inspiration finally struck my family research brain! This would be the perfect time to organize files, read hastily scribbled notes, and solve genealogy puzzles. Maybe without online distractions I would focus more fully on records already in my possession.

To keep track of various documents I began using Rubbermaid storage bins for portable filing. Each person has their own personal hanging file. Before each surname is a "possible" file with information to investigate later. It is quite embarrassing to tell you these files have become more out of sight, out of mind than necessary.

With the electricity out researching these bins became the number one project. Working my way through each file I started discovering information from the early days of this genealogy adventure.

The adage "you may already have what you are looking for" hit me right between the eyes. In the Springer family file were these two emails sent from a fellow researcher in 2007.

This form details the layout of the Springer family plot in Indianapolis, Indiana.

This section of the email discusses the relationships of various family members. The information stated about Daniel M. Springer (husband's great-grandfather), Margaret Todd Springer (husband's great-grandmother), Emma Springer and Raymond Ruth were common knowledge in our family.

Missed back in 2007 were references to other Springer relatives! The details about Jacob M. Springer (brother of Daniel) and family jumped right off the page. With this information I have located more data, found photographs, and connected with another family line.

Moral of the story? Don't wait until the lights go out to reorganize information in your possession. You may already have the answer.


  1. Excellent piece, and good lessons learned. I especially liked, "Maybe without online distractions I would focus more fully on records already in my possession." I need to do that. Turn off the TV, FB, Google+ and other things. And, your, "you may already have what you are looking for" I need to begin going back through my old papers as well.
    I am Not going to wait until our electricity goes out to find a clue! Thanks Deb

  2. Great article! Glad you were able to turn lemons into lemonade! Very inspiring!

  3. This is so true! I discovered it when my wireless went on the blink several months ago and vowed to keep on organizing what I had. Unfortunately, I soon slid back into my former ways. Hopefully you will inspire me to go back to what I already have.

  4. That is good advice... I have a ton of material that my mom gave me that I always plan on going through more carefully, but I never seemed to find the time. Next week, I'm going to find the time and set aside a little time each morning to go through it piece by piece. Thanks for the nudge. I just might break down a few walls because of it.

  5. Deb,I have a gene question. My husbands great grandparents emigrated to Baltimore from Bohemia in 1869. They were Catholic and I would like to know what German Catholic Churches were in Baltimore in that timeframe? If I could narrow it down perhaps I could find the Baptism of their son who was born shortly after their arrival.

    Thanks in advance.

  6. That is a really heart-warming story and one that I could learn from myself, having tons of notes stashed away "on file" or on my "to-do" list. When you are trying to compile family history books it is especially important to get those notes in order!
    Thank you for sharing this inspiring story with us...may we all take a leaf from your book. :-)

  7. Great story and lesson learned. I had one of those 'already had what I was looking for' moments last week looking at one my folders. I was actually looking for something else and 'poof' there was information very much related to what I was looking for which I received some three years ago. Oops!

  8. Thanks all for the comments! With all the technology at our finger tips we forget the good old fashioned methods.