Saturday, August 30, 2008

How I Started

My quest to find out my family history started with my then-fiance. Her father was adopted. He knew his birth name and his birth date and that was about it. His adoptive parents were rather quiet about the whole thing and the state had protected the name of the natural parents on the birth certificate.

My soon to be Mother-in-Law and Grandmother-in-Law had very good records of my wife's ancestors on her mother's side and on her adopted families side, but the rut had been long established and the needed break was not there.

We live in Vermont and in fact at the time we lived in Montpelier, the state capitol. Every town in the state publishes a town report on an annual basis. We do something called town meetings every March. For the smaller towns, the community gets together and discusses whether the school budget should be passed or whether the town needs a new road grader or donate money to the public library. They are quaint, efficient, and fun. For those of us in larger towns and cities, we just vote on issues like we do in November. Anyway, these town reports, besides having budget information and a list of teacher salaries, also publish birth, death, and marriage certificates filed in the town for the previous year.

A trip to the State Law Library revealed a huge archive of these town reports. We talked about it and decided to see if we could find anything. We looked in the 1953 Annual Report for Randolph, home of the hospital for the county, and by luck found him AND his birth parents on the first try. We had two names and like a good jigsaw puzzle, once we had the right piece we could connect a whole bunch more.

This story has a bittersweet turn. There was relief and excitement that my Father-in-Law's story ha been uncovered, but there would be no happy reunion. Sometime soon, I will tell you about how I found out about Rootsweb and how further digging would bring up a rather unhappy story.

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