by Barbara Leiger Granato
From the time I was a young child, I was always curious about my ancestors. I knew my parents and my grandparents, but who were their parents, and who were the parents of those parents?
When I was in my mid-twenties, I discovered that there had been a book written about my mother’s father’s family. As a matter of fact, at that time it was in my uncle’s attic. Nobody in the family was interested in it, and it was just gathering dust. When I asked if I could have it, it was more than willingly given to me. At last – my dreams would be answered; I was about to discover more about who begot who begot who.
The book was published in 1931. This was a good sign, since my mother was born in 1924. But – when I looked for my mother’s name, it was not in the book! So, then I looked for her father’s name, but his name was not in the book. Well, I just so happened to know the name of his father, but – you guessed it – his name was not in the book either.
My mother suggested that I may find the answer by contacting one of my great aunts who was still living. And sure enough, Aunt Mary had the answer I needed. And that is when I found out that my 2nd great grandfather’s name was Sylvester. That was the missing link I needed to discover my direct link to the ancestors from whom I descended.
When I shared this information with the rest of the family who had not been interested in the book, all of a sudden there was great interest. It seems as though when I learned the name of this ancestor, memories were jogged by the rest of the family. And the memories were thrilling! The family story had been passed down that Sylvester had been a body guard to President Lincoln!
“Really?” I wondered. Well, he must not have been a very good one! Still, I wanted to learn more about our family “hero.” What a fascinating story this was!
Sylvester had lived in a small community northwest of Philadelphia, so my husband and I and our two children made the trip from Whitesboro, New York to Trappe, Pennsylvania where we found our hero’s grave. From there, we went to the Historical Society of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania in Norristown to learn more about him.
I walked into the Historical Society with so much pride. After all, our family was important! This is where I would uncover the truth about Sylvester. And oh, my – was I ever surprised by my discovery!
To be continued...
Lessons learned -
- Look for family genealogies
- Ask family members questions
- If possible, travel to the place where your ancestor lived
©2015, Barbara Leiger Granato
After retiring from her job as a secretary at Mohawk Valley Community College, Barbara Granato had more time to pursue her love of genealogy. She is a member of the Oneida Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, currently serving as the chapter Registrar and Vice-Chair of NYS Lineage Research for DAR. In addition to teaching Beginning Genealogy classes, she is a Board member of the Central New York Genealogical Society, as well as a Board Member for the Oneida County Historical Society. She also is a member of the Landmarks Society of Greater Utica and serves as a tour docent to the mansions on Rutger Street in Utica, and writes murder mysteries which are performed at one of the historic mansions once a year. She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists as well as the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.