To Look or Not to Look
The newspaper had a short article about a teenager who had won a track and field Memorial scholarship to a summer camp. It said that the high school awarded this scholarship every year in memory of a former student who had been killed in an automobile accident while in college.
The surname was the same as Mary who had been married to my third cousin. I remembered the conversation I had with Mary's oldest brother, John, now retired and living in Arizona. John told me he had two grown daughters, "And there are no sons left to carry on the family name." At the time, I was still tracing my family roots and hadn't thought to ask him about his kids yet. But I thought, yeah, OK, he's being helpful.
Now, I wonder if he had a son who died and that is why he made such a point to say that. He had also mentioned that he lived for several years in that same suburb where the school is located. Maybe he didn't tell me his only son was dead because it was too painful for him to talk about it with a stranger on the phone. The young man died in the early 1990s. His SS death record is on the Family Search website. The death record lists the county he died in and, of course, his home town. I could easily visit the state library archives and look up a microfilm or microfiche of the obituary. It's public information, but I'm not sure what I'd do with that information other than put it on my wikitree for my records. I haven't visited my wikitree in months. Actually, I had not planned to research that particular branch of the family any further, for fear of hurting the living by letting skeletons out of closets.
But I have no control over what goes in the local paper. I had been looking for something else on that page. Like I said, right place, right time.
So far, I haven't had time to visit the library. I'm not sure what I would do with the information. My husband and I don't have money to give to the scholarship fund at this time. I understand why these people might not want to meet long-lost relatives, by marriage or otherwise. It is public information.
When talking to living descendants, it's very interesting to read between the lines; not only what they say but also the things they leave UNSAID.