There is something to be said about "willy-nilly" searches, typing in names into your search engine to try to locate any crumb of information you can find on your ancestors - it can be successful. I caution you though to thoroughly verify the facts stated by comparing them to your known facts. You can also be led astray with reputable ancestry sites as well especially with family tree's. The biggest problems I see with family trees is that if one person has incorrect information and you take it as fact and record it into your tree the problem snowballs. I have found my Grandfather B. on many family trees - but the parents listed are not his parents. All his facts; date of birth, place of birth, death dates etc are definitely him - but this is not his family. I have his records of birth, baptism and confirmation so I know the information I have is correct and of course the information that he relayed to the family. However, the "willy-nilly" can work - just be cautious. But I'm getting off the topic of my success story for today.
My Great Grandmother Trientje was born in the Village of Moorlage, Germany in 1868. She married my Great Grandfather in 1892 and 3 days after their wedding emigrated to Nebraska, USA. Trientje had a sister and two half brothers. Trientje was diabetic and when my Grandmother was just 2 years old her mother died. Of course at such a tender age my Grandma really didn't have any memory of her Mother. Only a few things that her father told her. He said she was a lot like her mother, loving and fun to be with.
Loving a mystery I felt I just had to find out more about Trientje and her family. I was fortunate that my Great Aunt had taken the time in 1980 to record our family genealogy. So armed with that information I began my search. I knew that Trientje's half brother had emigrated to the US and in my Aunt's records she noted that the last known place of him was in Oregon. It was also recorded that the family had lived in California before moving to Oregon. So I started searching through census reports. Fortunately I had enough information to know that I had found the right person. From that census report I learned all the names of his children. Since there are no census reports available after 1930 (yet) my lead may have ended there. However, I knew they moved to Oregon and it only seemed logical to me that some of the children probably moved there also. My hunch paid off and I located one of his sons in the same town in Oregon. I obtained a phone number and placed a call. I was hesitant to call because this cousin was in his 80's and I was afraid he would think my call a scam or prank and I didn't want to alarm him. After all he didn't have a clue who I was - what to say - what to say? I practiced a little spiel - "Hi, my name is - I'm working on family genealogy - and um I think we may be cousins." Kind of lame huh? His response was - a long oh - and how so? So I told him what I knew: his fathers name, grandmother's name and etc. His response ----- well hello cousin! We chatted for nearly 3 hours - it was just wonderful! I learned so much about his family (mine too) but was disappointed that he really didn't know more about his fathers family. He informed me that his father had a lot of bitter feelings about Germany and never really talked too much about those years. My heart was a little broken at this point - I thought maybe he could give me more insight about the family. But, I was thrilled nonetheless to know him. He thought that possibly his Uncle and Aunt who remained in Germany probably died during the war because he didn't know of any communication after that time.
I wasn't about to give up though. I located the Ostfriesland Genealogical Society website and left a message of who I was looking for in 2007. I had actually forgotten that I had left a message there when one day in July 2007 I received an email from a gentleman who claimed to have some information for me. I was a little skeptical though - because you never know who is reading these messages. I decided though to take a chance and respond - the information he sent seemed pretty legit to me based on what I knew so....... He provided me with a great deal of information on my Habben family and some on my Great Grandmothers. We went back and forth for a while and then I didn't hear from him for several months. And then "The Ties That Bind" began to come together.............