Genealogy = connections

From left: Me, Penny, Sue, Mary (seated)

From left: me, Penny, Sue, Mary (seated)

Thanks to my family history research (and this blog, really), I had an extraordinary day this past Friday, meeting my mother’s cousins and aunt. My mother was born in Missouri but her family moved to Spokane, Washington, in 1936 (looking for a better climate for my grandfather, who was recovering from tuberculosis). They left behind my grandfather’s parents and siblings, a close-knit family.

As a result, I didn’t grow up knowing this branch of the family and we sort of disappeared off the family radar. But that changed when my mother’s cousin, Jerry Brown, found this blog and introduced me to the Brown cousins, a wonderfully welcoming group. So when I saw there was a genealogy conference in western Missouri, I registered and arranged to come in a day early and meet my family.

It was an incredible day. These people are hilarious and fun and we laughed and laughed and laughed. It started with lunch in Nevada, Missouri, with cousin Penny. After that, we met cousin Sue at the old-folks’ home where Penny’s mother, Mary, lives. Mary is the sole surviving sibling of my grandfather, Crawford Brown. (Crawford died in 1996, two weeks shy of his 90th birthday.) She is 99 years old and has a twinkle in her eye and is quick to laugh. That’s us in the picture up top.

Then we went to Milo, Missouri, where my great grandparents (Crawford’s parents), who are Penny and Sue’s grandparents, had lived. I saw the site of their in-town house, where they moved from the farm in 1959, when they were in their 70s. And we went to Milo cemetery, where they are buried. We also saw the site of their farm (and I heard many hilarious stories about Sue’s antics at the farm when she was little).

The graves of my great grandparents, A.J. and Rhoda Brown

The graves of my great grandparents, A.J. and Rhoda Brown

Then these lovely women took me on a quest to find the cemetery where my great grandfather Jeffries (my grandmother Sue’s father and father-in-law to Crawford) was buried, along with his parents and grandparents. Mind you, these Jeffries are no relation to Penny and Sue, but they were up for helping me find the cemetery. It wasn’t easy. We had some directions from an old book, but they didn’t turn out to be entirely accurate. To make matters more complicated, there are two cemeteries within a few miles with homophonic names (Meyer’s and Myer’s), so asking directions wasn’t terribly fruitful. But then I got my husband, Barry, on the case from home and Google maps saved the day. Once there, Sue and Penny helped me find the actual graves. Here’s the grave marker for my great grandfather’s grandparents.

The grave marker for my 3rd great grandparents, R.A. and Harriett Jeffries

The grave marker for my 3rd great grandparents, R.A. and Harriett Jeffries

Luckily the day was beautiful, sunny and in the upper 70s or low 80s. It wouldn’t have seen like such a fun adventure the next day, when it was cold and windy.

After our grave-hopping (we went to both Meyer’s and Myer’s, as well as Milo cemeteries), we went by the site of the original homestead near Rockville, Missouri, that my great grandparents established when they moved to Missouri from Nebraska in about 1914. And after that we met more cousins at a Mexican restaurant in Nevada for dinner, as well as Sue’s 90-year-old father (widower of Crawford’s sister, Nancy). A family reunion date was selected for 2014. I am eager to attend!

By the time I headed up to my hotel in Blue Springs, Missouri, I was exhausted. But so tickled to have had such a wonderful day.

When I started doing family history research, it was all about a solitary detective hunt with feelings of triumph when vital records were obtained. What I didn’t realize it would be about was connecting with family, sharing stories and memories, and uncovering life-enhancing relationships.

I am so grateful for the time spent with this new-found family. And I am so grateful for my interest in genealogy!


  1. Jerry Brown says:

    Great story Janine – I am oly sorry that conact came so late as we have had great family reunions in the Nevada area for the past 10 years or so. We will see if we can make the 2014 a big one

  2. I really enjoyed your post Janine. I actually started the Max Brown branch’s family history search in 1988 when I spent a week talking to my father abut what he remembered about the stories his father and mother told about their families. I was lucky enough to live in Washington DC near the National Archives and found many links. I wrote a little book and gave it to my dad and mom who were very pleased to see their stories actually had some substance. My sister Judy and brother Jerry then picked up what I had done and really did some work to expand the family history to what it is today. I now live in Australia and don’t know if I can make the 2014 reunion but would love to attend. God willing, I’ll find a way.

    • Jim, I hope you can come to the reunion! Jerry and Judy have shared their research with me and I’m so grateful for the work you started! I’d love to see your little book some day. June 28, 2014 is the proposed date for the family reunion. I hope to see you there!

  3. How energizing it is to move from that solitary detective hunt to real-world researching, networking and connecting to build extended-family relationships. I loved reading your story, Janine!

  4. Kristiana says:

    I loved this post! I just started reading your blog a few weeks ago as I sorely need to get more organized with my genealogy!

    I too used to think that genealogy was a solitary pursuit, but I’ve made some wonderful connections of my own along the way–probably the most significant being my father-in-law’s first cousin who hadn’t had contact with our family line in over 30 years. We’ve emailed for a decade and finally got to meet when she came to SLC for a work conference last year and we had a wonderful time together. It really can be life-enhancing as you put it.

  5. Sue hughes says:

    Connecting with family that you have lost touch with is so rewarding. The kinship between cousins was definitely present. Three women on a mission to locate cemeteries in rural Missouri was a challenge and one commonality we shared was determination just like our ancestors and of course a cell phone and another co-pilot, Janine’s husband guiding us from St. Louis!

    • Sue, it was so much fun and I so appreciate your giving me so much of your time! Tenaciously tracking down that cemetery was great–and it felt so good to find it! Looking forward to the next time I see you.

  6. Penny Beattie says:

    Janine, Sue and I had a great time! It was so much fun investigating the cemeteries, laughing, hearing family stories, and sharing your enjoyment in finding the Jeffries’ grave sites. Love your Blog!

  7. John Laflen says:

    Janine, I’m so pleased you found the graveyards near Rockville. Mom (the Mary who is my mother, the last surviving sibling of your Grandfather Crawford) had told me about Crawford and Sue courting at the church between their homes.

    Also Uncle Crawford went to the U. of MO., I’ve looked in their digital library, and I can find only one reference to a Crawford Brown, he was in the newspaper there as something like being a member of the National Guard.

    I’m pleased a reunion is being planned, I’ll plan on beiong there, and will offer a hysterical tour of Milo, where Grandpa and Grandma Brown (and Laflen) lived, where I and my sisters lived and went to school at a 1 room school house, and where Jim Brown and his siblings went to school when they lived with grandpa and grandma Brown while their father was overseas in WWII. My sisters were born in Milo, my brother Robert Laflen and I were born at a rural home about 5 miles from Milo.

    • John, I hadn’t thought of looking at the University of Missouri digital library…you are so clever! Thanks for passing along what you found.

      I really look forward to meet you at the reunion and going on your hysterical tour of Milo.

  8. Janine and all — don’t forget that Daughters of the American Revolution has online information as well. I’ve been having a wonderful experience just because I found that someone had challenged “our Patriot’s Line” that my mother had established with DAR years ago. I found old connections and made many more Alaska (whom I’d met as a little girl 50 years ago) to Maryland, Minnesota to Texas and new folks along the way that have added their bits and pieces and some extraordinarily detailed family history. of course is also about “old” lines but the connections with living people who help fill in the story of how we got to where we are and recalling what our past generations have told us (that we didn’t think were very interesting back then)… I made a trip to DC for a family wedding and added a trip to consultant with a staff geneaologist at the DAR National HQ. A person like me who has had MANY MANY generations of family here in the US since its founding can feel JUST AS important as those who have more recently come to the US and bring an incredible drive to declare that they have American Rights too. Sometimes I think we (I) can take for granted what our family generations have GIVEN to us. Where I live, my Anglo (WASP) heritage is the minority. Have fun and be glad that you can connect with that energy from the past. Especially when you feel that you are being “mowed down” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jamie, thanks for that important reminder of what a great genealogical resource the DAR is. I have yet to explore it (much) and look forward to using delving in. I’m definitely glad that I can connect with the energy from the past. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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