The siblings of my Fredericka (Sartorius) Janssen (1865-1913) falls into that category. Like many of my Ostfriesen families, the villages of birth in Germany for the parents were already well-established and I concentrated on locating new information on her ancestry and not her siblings and their families. Others had compiled that information, I had no reason to doubt it, and decided to focus my genealogy time on families that were more confusing and where I had more questions.
Then I came across this obituary for one of Fredericka’s younger sisters, Vola (Sartorius) Price. I knew she had lived in Galesburg, Illinois, for a while but was not certain when. And as soon as I saw the obituary, I remembered something that apparently was buried in my head over thirty years ago where it must have buried itself deeper and deeper over time. My great-grandmother Tena (Janssen) Ufkes (daughter of Fredericka) had corresponded with a daughter of Vola. That daughter lived in Galesburg when she and my great-grandmother were in their late eighties. The daughter, whose name I cannot remember, was nearly blind at the time and corresponded with what struck me as the largest handwriting I had ever seen. I’m not certain why those details stuck with me, but they were apparently easier to remember than the daughter’s name.
Then I read the place of burial.
I have driven by it on my way to work every day since April of 1997.
Admittedly Galesburg is not far from where I grew up. I only live about eighty miles from where I’m “from,” but it still struck me that I had been by that cemetery over 3,000 times and had never realized it was the final resting place of my aunt.
The serendipity probably is not a lesson of this little discovery.
But I was reminded that sometimes there are things stuck in the depths of our memory until something jars them out. I had not thought of the letters from the nearly blind cousin in over thirty years.