Do we believe in synchronicity? In ghosts? Of course, we do. We’re genealogists. Ghosts are our specialty.
Sometimes I can feel one tapping me hard on the shoulder saying, “No, not 1852. It was 1855.” Or “No, not his brother. It was his uncle.” Sometimes I imagine they’re twisting in their graves with everything we get wrong.
Someone asked the interesting question “Why genealogy?” And the answers came back along the lines of it being a drive we have to connect the world at a time when the world is so disconnected. Makes perfect sense to me.
But is the world really so disconnected? I’ve noticed a synchronicity factor that’s hard to fathom and it makes me do a double-take every time.
For instance, a few of us had been pondering for awhile over the possible existence of an original source document that a long-deceased writer may have taken excerpts from. If it did exist it was one of those things we would have given our eye-teeth to get our hands on.
One day I got an email from one of these fellow-ponderers. She had just had a call from her sister (not a genealogist) who had just had a call from a distant cousin, (not a genealogist and not ‘in the loop’) who just happened to be cleaning out her basement. She had come across a box of old papers including a document my cousin might be interested in? You guessed it – The One! If we’d found a sunken galleon we couldn’t have been more excited.
It had been a few months between the time we were champing at the bit and the discovery of the document. In this next story it took a week.
A more distant cousin and I sometimes correspond about our more distant common ancestors. One day I was skimming through one of his charts and I noticed a description of a Will, division of property, etc. I’d probably looked at it a hundred times but it had never registered before. This time it stopped me in my tracks. I have another document that makes a passing reference to the original family farm in a location about 200 miles further north.
So I sent an email over saying “Something about this is other than what it seems.” He wrote back that he didn’t know anything about another family farm and we let it go, being distracted by other things. You know how that goes.
A week later I got an email from this same cousin attaching an email from another person, unknown to both of us, who said he had found a land deed for one of his ancestors. He thought my cousin might be interested to know that the land was bordered by property owned by one of ours. You guessed it – The One! Other family farm.
Things happen in 3’s, they say, so here’s another one.
I was looking up census records and got stuck at a person called Christophe, who married one of my German cousins. I couldn’t find him anywhere in the public records. But that was really a side issue because I was too busy being fascinated with the name. Maybe someone wrote it down wrong and it was really supposed to be Christopher? It’s funny how these kind of details can eat up an entire day.
I decided to go out for groceries. I picked up a few and headed to the nearest cashier. Right at eye level, in front of my nose, was his name-tag: Christoph. That’s the first person in my life I’ve ever met called Christoph and I’ve been on earth for a really long time. So, of course, I said out loud, “Christoph … is that supposed to be Christopher but the name tag wasn’t wide enough?” and he said “No, my name is Christoph. Do you mind telling me why you asked?”
So we had a conversation about Chris, and Christoph and Christophe and Christopher. He said “Christophe” is the French version. Now, I probably could have looked that up on the Internet, but why bother when all I had to do was go out for groceries and get the whole shebang in person?