Barry's Relatively Speaking: Threads Of Friendship

Posted on Nov 05, 2012

Barry's Relatively Speaking shares the personal experiences and stories of genealogists found in the Everton Genealogical Helper Magazine collection on Melissa shares the following experience.

Several years ago I placed a genealogical query in a New York newspaper, a paper which was circulated near what I felt was the possible location of my great great great grandfather's residence.

A few months passed, my query was published, and I received just one reply. A lady recognized my family names as those she had seen on large monuments in her town's cemetery - the same cemetery in which some of her own family members were buried. Not only did this lady, who is not a genealogist, take the time to write to me about these stones, but she also made a special trip to her cemetery to photograph them and record all the data engraved on them.

The photographs were priceless to me, and the data led me, over the following year, to locating living relatives, descendants of my great great great grandfather's sister, residing in my own state of Michigan.

One of these living relatives visited me unexpectedly one Saturday afternoon while enroute to a neighboring state. With her she brought several heirlooms she had inherited - items that had belonged to my great great great grandfather's mother: a parasol, a Sunday hat, monogrammed pillow cases, and a friendship quilt. As I studied the many names embroidered on the large friendship quilt, several of which were my family's, I recognized one name as being that of an ancestor of my New York friend, one she had mentioned in her letters.

Suddenly I was struck with the full impact of what these names meant. Little did my New York friend, with whom I have now corresponded extensively, realize that when she reached out and showed kindness to an inquiring stranger, she was actually reviving a family friendship that had laid dormant for over 200 years. The threads of friendship were more deeply sewn than the quilters could ever have dreamed. Not only has a beautiful quilt survived the many generations, but so has the friendship that the quilt represents.

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