While researching my family tree, I have been astounded by the generosity of complete strangers from across the globe, and just how much the pass-time of genealogy brings the best out of people.
A global pursuit
Over the lsat few years, my research into the direct ancestors of my children, plus into other “Longleys of note” has taken me to Yorkshire, East Anglia, Ireland, the United States, and more recently St Helena.
In these travels, which have so far been almost exclusively online, I have been amazed at the help and generosity with time that I have encountered.
In New England, I have been corresponding with a lady regarding Gretchen Fiske Longley – a Titanic survivor. She happily volunteered information, and sent me scanned copies of a document that was immensely helpful and interesting.
I have been researching a family member in Yorkshire who, under tragic circumstances, killed his young daughter. Over some months, we have exchanged numerous emails and pieces of information. This lady, who now feels to be almost a pen pal, is in Ireland.
A relative in Australia continually helps me with photos, historic pieces of research, knowledge, and tips.
More recently, I have been researching the disappearance of a relative who was last seen on St Helena – a small island in the middle of the Atlantic. I have been in contact with half a dozen individuals who have helped me with knowledge, researched stories themselves, paid for documents, and even deposited funds in St Helena on my behalf.
It is truly wonderful how strangers, separated by hundreds, or in my case, thousands, of miles go out of their way.
The other side
Balancing up the previous sentiment, I have also encountered equally unusual, but slightly more puzzling behaviour. I had been researching a famous Longley mechanic, as well as a family who had run a bedding company. The help that I received matched my other experiences, until such time as it became apparent (through Ancestry DNA testing) that we were not blood relations. The very moment that the lack of genetic connection had been established, all communication with both individuals ceased entirely.
These two individuals owed me nothing, and I had never purported to be related – simply having a connection through a surname. There’s nowt so odd as folk.
Re-paying the debt
Whenever I’m contacted about my tree and research, I’m totally happy to share. I’ve put hundreds of hours and hundreds of pounds into my work. Any images I’m entitled to share, I share. It feels right to put back in what you take out.