Saturday, April 28, 2012

Serendipity Strikes Again!

Despite the many years of genealogy research under my belt, it did not take long before I quickly dubbed serendipity as my full partner in crime. There are just too many instances of important discoveries that seem to randomly fall into our laps from the oddest places - too many to ignore the Big 'S' and its importance. Years ago, I purchased a small, rectangular gold frame at an estate auction that seemingly housed a calendar print glued to a piece of cardboard. I was happy with the purchase, since all I wanted was the beautiful frame, but once I got it home, I discovered a gorgeous panoramic photograph of an unnamed church congregation from roughly the 1930s or 40s hidden behind the front print.
I really only had a few clues to go on when trying to figure out which church this group was sitting in front of: purchased in central Kentucky, "Lafayette Studios, Lexington Kentucky" embossed in the lower right corner, and a building cornerstone that read "Christian Church, 1894". Based on the size of the congregation, the location of Lafayette Studios and even the type of house sitting next to it, I arrogantly assumed this was a Lexington Christian Church. While I never conducted full scale research on the photo, it was always something I looked for when driving downtown. When leaving work, I would sometimes just take some extra side roads to view a different brick church that might fit the architectural mold. Over the years, it was definitely a church whose outer details were very committed to my memory.
Earlier this week, I was conducting some research for a patron, and was only having marginal success finding their family. Since church records and histories can have additional snippets of local history, I took a chance and picked up this book about the First Disciples-Christian Church in Georgetown Kentucky by Ann Bevins, 1981. I looked through the book and wasn't really having any luck, but when I went to put it back, it fell a bit out of my hands and onto the book shelf with the back cover flipping open as it came to rest. Since I hadn't looked at my panoramic shot in a year or two, I was having what I thought was an extreme deja vu moment - but apparently, my brain was pulling out this memory, and I was suddenly reminded about the photo and missing church. This is what met my eyes:
In an instant the mystery was completely solved. I had not only found my group and building in question, but also a full history of the congregation. Since I have lived in Georgetown for the past 10 years, the mere fact that this Church was in my town completely shocked me.....but then I read enough to realize that this beautiful building, built in 1894 and photographed here in 1939, had tragically burnt in 1947. The current structure was built in 1955, and did not resemble the 19th century brick in any way. So, Serendipity solves another mystery. I did not happen to have family members in Scott County in the 1930s, so for those of you who might be wondering about the identity of the peeps featured, here is a partial list as printed in the back of the book. I will confess that the 1939 image made me think of the 1940 census.....matching a name to a face in 1940 would be quite a treat! I think I'll wait until the index is finished to tackle that one!
C

13 comments:

imagespast said...

I'm pleased that our old friend Serendipity helped you out again. And I'm not the only one to take detours with some notion of finding some genealogy-related building!

Little Nell said...

That must have given yoiu quite a start, but an exciting find nonetheless.

Wendy said...

I'm sure that find had you humming the Twilight Zone theme song. Wonderful story! Gives everyone hope of a serendipitous moment of their own.

Joan said...

Cherie, what a well-played story! I love it when suddenly all of the pieces fall into place and Voila!

kybarb said...

I really enjoy reading your blog and wondered if you had any suggestions for someone just starting in genealogy research. Did you study genealogy in college or take classes anywhere or just learned on your own? I notice there will be a big genealogy conference in Cinti soon. Are the classes offered there for professional researchers or can anyone take them and not be totally lost? Also are there any online classes that would be helpful? I have not done much research past gathering all the materials together that past family members have saved plus I do have ancestry.com membership,

Bob Scotney said...

What a lucky and an amazing find.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

I love it when stuff like that happens! Good for you to have found the info it all right there. Sad that the church burned down.

Kathy M.

barbara and nancy said...

What a story. I love it when something like that happens.
And to think the church had been so close to you, but unfortunately, burned down. What a shame.
Nancy

Postcardy said...

Great story and great luck.

Christine H. said...

Wow, that certainly was serendipity. How fun and interesting.

Linda said...

Serendipity indeed, excellent that your mystery was solved. Love the Norman Rockwell illustration of the census taker, 1940.

Cheri Daniels said...

Thanks everyone! Moments like these definitely give me the goose pimplies!

@Kybarb: First of all, the NGS conference coming up next week in Cincy is for all levels of genealogy! If you are close by, and can make it, it is a wonderful way to learn the standards necessary to build solid skills!

Also, your starting out with things passed down to you is exactly how most of us get started! Being keepers of the history is such an important part of genealogy in my opinion! Once you start with what you know, and what has been passed down to you, then just make the decision to educate yourself on the subject. There are tons of free tutorials and lessons out there that you can use to start building your skill base and teach you how to keep good citations and stay organized.

As far as my own experience, I too started with my family heirlooms, photos and documents and then went from there. I did take some classes - many are free - but I also leaned so much through working in libraries for the past couple of decades. I then followed my experience with a BA in history and a Masters in Library Science. Both taught me a ton about primary and secondary sources and how to use them in proper context when researching and building a case study. They say genealogy is one of the hardest historical subjects to research because of the strict proofs needed - but I still love it, and the strict nature just means we leave a solid trail for the next generation to keep the lineage information alive! After the conference, feel free to e-mail me directly if you need any more advice.....and keep reading the blogs! They have great advice from those in the trenches!

kybarb said...

Thanks so much Cheri! I am hoping to keep adding to my knowledge a little bit at a time as I can. I would love to see a post on your blog for new genealogy researchers--list of places on the web for free tutorials and lessons would be wonderful, organization of materials, etc. Photos of how you organize & store your own genealogy info, etc.

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