Many genealogists have reported unusual coincidences occurring while doing their research that led them to breaking through a brick wall, or to find a long lost cousin, or similar wonderful discovery. These "coincidences" include everything from random phone calls from long-lost cousins, to coming across just the right book to answer a burning questions after years of fruitless searching, to just getting a feeling that they should look at this one book or talk to that one person at a conference, and finding a wealth of information that they never would have otherwise had they not followed that feeling. These experiences have many names - genealogical serendipity, psychic roots, spiritual promptings, etc. I'd like to share two such experiences I had recently in my own research.
A couple weeks ago, I had just finished my lunch break at work, which I'd spent going through my Joseph family files. (I told you they'd take a long time to go through!) After I'd gone back to work, I had a boatload of paperwork come my way, and I figured I'd just skip my afternoon break (usually 10-15 minutes), push through the paperwork, and go home. However, I had a feeling I should take my break, and just do a little more genealogy before going home. I took the break, went down to the lobby, and hopped online. In going through my files, I noticed I had a lot of files for my great-great-grandfather's sister, Tina Leistiko, but I didn't have an obituary even though she died fairly recently (1959) in an area with lots of newspapers. I'd searched the index for it before, but never found it. This time, I thought I'd try actually browsing for it, just to see. I picked the Montana Standard, and opened the issue for the day after she died, 30 May 1959. Guess what I found on page 2 - her obituary!! It was fairly long, and gave me lots of details about her that I didn't know. I kept searching and in the space of my 15-break, I had several more obituaries for people that didn't appear in the word searches but were there nonetheless. And to think, I almost didn't take that break!
Then just last week, I was going through more Joseph family files, and was entering what I had on my great-great-grandfather's brother Ludwig (aka Louis) Joseph, which wasn't much. I remembered I had found him in the 1930 census, living in Michigan. Again, I had a feeling I should check Michigan newspapers for him and his family. I logged onto Newspaper Archive and searched Michigan for newspaper articles about Ludwig Joseph - and hit the jackpot! In just a few minutes, I'd found a dozen articles about him, his wife Sarah (Seraphina nee Lorenz), and their daughter Adeline! I suddenly had all kinds of info on their family - Adeline's graduation from 8th grade at Trinity Lutheran School, info on Adeline's marriage to Herbert Leitz in 1940, obituary and funeral info for Sarah (including a list of out-of-town attendees for the funeral), and more. There's also a whole other set of 12 articles about Herbert Lietz and his family, which look like they might very well be about the same family! All from following one feeling to look for Ludwig.
I've had other experiences like this, and I'm sure many of you have as well. It's just one more thing that convinces me how important genealogical research is, and that those people we are researching want their stories discovered and told.