Saturday, October 2, 2010

Reading the signs...

I told you I got an e-mail from cousin Milton the day before yesterday. I hadn't heard from him in ages so as I was thinking about it yesterday, I knew it was a sign. I just got this feeling. And I know that genealogy is, for lack of a better word, a science - we posit theories and we search for truths, and we back up these theories and truths with facts and evidence. We're scientists. We're detectives. But we also get feelings in our guts and we learn to trust our instincts when we know we know something but we can't prove it as truth...yet. Even NYPD detectives follow their guts sometimes when they're working a case...but maybe that's just the superstitious Irish in me talkin'... :)

Anyway, this doesn't have so much to do with my gut telling me to follow a lead so much as it was my gut telling me that Milton emailing me and the record I had just ordered from the New Jersey archives were connected. Beyond the obvious way, in that John Reinhardt, whose record I ordered, is a relation of Milton, too. So the day before yesterday I heard from Milton. And today my dad picked me up for work and told me I had gotten an envelope from the New Jersey archivss.

Now, you give a government department enough information and you would hope they would be able to work quickly. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. But I gave the NJDARM a ton of information to track down John Reinhardt's death record, based on information I had gotten off of the FamilySearch website, and they got back to me...within a week. Hallelujah - maybe God does exist!

Anyway, the disappointing news is, this record doesn't tell me anything I didn't already know - John Reinhardt, my 5th great grandfather, died in Union, Hudson County, New Jersey in October of 1870. He was married, 56 years old, born in Germany, and died of "atrophy of the brain." Actually, that last part I did not know, and now that I'm thinking of it, 56 is awfully young to die from so-called brain atrophy - some kind of dementia perhaps? I'll need to look into that. Unfortunately, what I had really been hoping for, some reference to his as-so-far unknown parents, was not there, but it does do two huge things for me: one, it verifies the information I already had, like I said, and two, it tells me that FamilySearch's record collection (not their family tree collection - that's user-submitted and awfully inaccurate!!) *is* to be trusted, that I can use it as a reliable starting place to find out other stuff. Like when and where John's wife died. That information is there. Now I just have to look for an actual record as evidence.

And now, too, I'll have something to write Milton back about, that I found a record, that it didn't tell us anything new, but that the record was there, and that it proves *John* was there, and if he died in Union, New Jersey, there's a good chance he was buried around there, too...

Road trip!! :)

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