For Momma - Memorial Slide Show (Turn Playlist Music off before watching)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Quest of a Genea-Holic - Part 3

I am a genea-holic! Are you? Those that are will fully understand the concept of the “happy dance of joy”. Those of us who search for our ancestors know the joy of at last locating the missing link – that one piece of information that ties our entire family history together. Sometimes we find that we share DNA with extraordinary people who have accomplished great deeds – but for most of us we find people who worked hard, loved their families and just made the best of life that they could. It's exciting when we find out our great great great grandpa was the mayor or that our great great grandma was a suffragette. But, sometimes the joy can be bitter-sweet.

As I filled out the search boxes on the Family Search website I honestly did not expect anything to come up. Years of filling in the same information –“ Gustav Bebensee – born 1863 – Germany – Died ? - emigrated 1898” with no results made me skeptical that there would be anything new. For I had fully convinced myself that aliens had abducted him. My computer was running a tad slow that day so while it loaded the information I ran downstairs to get a cup of coffee. When I came back the information had loaded and as I sat down, coffee cup in hand, I saw what my eyes could not believe. I started shaking so that the coffee in my cup nearly drowned my keyboard. Oh my gosh can it be?! I thought about taking some Valium, my heart was pounding, and I could feel the adrenalin rush through my veins. OK, I thought calm down – figure this out – don't get ahead of yourself. (ya right!)

So slowly I read through the information:

Gustave Bebensee
Washington Death Certificates – 1907-1960
Death Date: 07 Dec 1914
Seattle, King, Washington
51 years 3 months 14 days
Birth year: 1863
Married – Jennette Bebensee

I was sure this was at least the same Gustave that appeared on the 1910 California Census. It took me a little bit to figure out if the birthday matched – geeeze - how many days in November, October and September are there? Ok, I'll admit it – I had to look it up. Oh my – that worked out to August 23, 1863 – my great grandpa was born on that date. I thought maybe I was just making it worked so I called my brother in Ohio and asked him to calculate it – he came up with the same. After looking up the Washington State Board of Health and finding out that they charge $32.00 for a death certificate, which I thought was extreme, I was a little hesitant about the cost. At long last to be so close and yet needing that document to let $32 stand in the way seemed kind of dumb – but what if I get it and it's not him - $32 is a lot to pay for some other Gustave. It only took a little nudge from my Mom though and I ordered it. Within 4 days I had the document in hand. I'm 99.9% positive that this is my great grandfather. There are a few elements that are missing that would really cinch it – his parents names are not on the document, apparently his wife, Jennette, either did not know or it was omitted.

You would think after so many years and generations of search that I would be doing the happy dance of joy in hip-hop style – to be the one that finally tracked this man down should be reason to shout it from the roof top – but for me it was bitter-sweet. An overwhelming feeling of grief came over me and I felt an unexplained pain settle into my heart. The news meant that he didn't die some tragic death in an earthquake. It did mean that he chose to start a new life – one that did not include his children. My thoughts went to my grandfather, his son, whose dancing blue eyes filled with tears as a boy, longing with all his heart to be reunited with his father who he loved so. I'm glad he didn't know – so glad he didn't know the truth................

But wait - there's more - join me as my quest for information continues..........

1 comment:

  1. How sad. I bet he never thought that many years later his descendant would be feeling the repercussions of his decisions at the time. He didn't think about how deeply connected we are to our past and our ancestors. Fortunately we do know better and will pass on wonderful family histories to our descendants. Looking forward to the rest of the tale.



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