Genealogical Deja Vu

April 19, 2011

Genealogy

Remember when I posted about my genealogy thing in a 55 minute post?  I’m still kind of weirded out by the  chance encounter that occurred.  Here’s the dealio….

In researching my Whildin ancestry I turned up several distant cousins over the last year.  These cousins were wonderful about filling in huge amounts of family history for me.  You see, my grandmother, Elizabeth Whildin Shinton Blake, was the Whildin descendant…and her parents were dead before I was even born.  Her grandmother….who she was named after was the first Elizabeth Whildin Shinton…had died when my Nana was about 5 or 6.  At the point that I was born, and after, there was little interaction with any distant family in Lansford, Pa and nobody really talked about them.  It took until I was about 57 to figure out why my Nana’s middle name was Whildin and that we were related to these people named Whildin.

Anyway.  I digress.  I had hit dry spots in my family research so began researching other, more distant Whildin relatives, looking for clues about the rest of the Whildin and Shinton clan.  I had found a distant cousin in Hanover…a wonderful woman named Elvira…who is about 87 and knew all of these people very, very well.  Her mother was a first cousin to my great grandfather.  I began researching her aunts and uncles. 

One uncle was fascinating.  It was the late 1800’s or early 1900’s and one day his wife and children had just disappeared.  He came home from work one day and they were gone.  Who knows why?  I guess somebody does…and no doubt the reasons were similar to those that cause separation and divorce today, but back then, divorce was a significant exception…not the rule! 

With only a bit of research I located one of this fellow’s daughters.  I was able to find her marriage to a fellow who became a Baltimore judge.  I located her children…one of whom became a Vice President at AT&T in the division I worked for 30 years.  I quickly located HIS daughters…and her marriage to a young physician in Allentown.  Wondering how to contact them to see if any other information existed, I researched THEM.  I discovered where the young physician’s wife worked and talked it over with Elvira. 

It’s so dicey when you find living “relatives” on the internet who don’t know you are a relative and out of the blue you contact them.  You feel kind of like an internet stalker (as my kids are prone to calling me) and I am sure they wonder what it is you want that you are contacting them (money?  refuge? favors?).  Oddly enough, not everybody shares our love for family history…I don’t get it…but it’s a fact.  SIGH. 

Again, I’ve digressed.  Elvira contacted this young woman and told her that she and her dad were actually fairly close cousins.  She knew his mother well before she disappeared with her mom…they were first cousins.  We both hoped she would hear back…but nothing was forthcoming so we decided this gal was one of those who does not share the fascination (obsession?) with family history.  We wrote it off…and moved forward.  That was sometime last year.  I expected I would never be able to contact these people…and could not share any of the information Elvira and I had…neither would we ever know if any information existed about what happened to this uncle of Elvira’s wife and daughters.

Fast forward to February 2011 at the hospital in Mike’s room.  I sat on a chair at the foot of Mike’s bed…numb, exhausted and intensely watching every move of the nurse, the perfusionist, Mike and Mike’s equipment.  Every medical professional who walked in the room was subject to visual or verbal scrutiny as I tried to manage every aspect of a situation that was so far out of my control I could barely comprehend it…let alone tolerate it.  A young and handsome doc walked in.  I had not seen this face before.  I was immediately suspicious.  He sat down on the waste hamper next to me, took my hand in his, introduced himself and told me first things first, he believes in God.  Then he discussed Mike’s care plan.   Nothing much registered…I numbly answered questions, asked my own…decided to hold on some treatments that were not absolutely required…and we parted ways after he examined Mike. 

I continued to sit at Mike’s bed.  The young doc came back in the room….he had forgotten something.  I looked up as he walked past me and a breeze lifted his white lab coat away from his body.  As I looked up and it moved, I noticed his name embroidered above the pocket.  Something clicked…even though I felt positively stuperous.  My famous instant recall was not operating at full speed…but clearly it was still there.  Some bell rang in my head. 

Dully, out loud…searching in my mind for why this name was familiar…I said his name out loud as one talking to themselves searching their brain for information.  He turned and looked at me quizzically.  I wasn’t looking at him…I was looking inside my brain…but my mouth was still talking.  He looked at me and said “Yes?”  Still babbling to myself, I said and his wife is XYZ and her father was ABC and his mother was QRS and she was a Whildin descendant.  The poor guy was looking at me like I was having some sort of crazy psychic moment. 

BINGO! The brain connected the pieces and I had placed his name.  He was the young doctor from Allentown who had married the Whildin descendant of the gal whose parents divorced so many years ago.  I apologized to him for my weirdness…and explained I was a family historian who had researched my family…his wife’s family.  And that she and I were cousins, albeit distant.  I mentioned I had found another elderly cousin in Hanover who …and he filled in the blanks…named Elvira who had written to his wife…though his wife was very busy and had not written back.  He mentioned that the whole divorce situation was very tragic…and we both shook our heads in wonder at how small the world really was and how weird that these circumstances had thrown us together in this way. 

Next day I was able to bring in some prints of photos I have of his father-in-laws grandparents when they were young, his aunts and uncles and his great-grandparents.  He mentioned his father-in-law would like to call me and asked if it was ok with all of this going on.  I said yes, of course.  And though we have not spoken as yet, I plan to give him a little call sometime this week.  The young doctor tells me he has a book that outlines the Whildin ancestry…I’d like to see if it is a report I had already received from another Whildin cousin…and to see how it matches up to what I’ve found in my research!

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One Comment on “Genealogical Deja Vu”

  1. Jennie Yanez Says:

    Amazing! Wow! It is a small world isn’t it. How wonderful and this young doctor was one of Mike’s doctors… Truly God was working in this as well. Hope you have made contact with the father-in-law by now; but, if not, at least you know he is interested and will at some point.

    Blessings,

    Jennie

    Reply

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