Friday, December 30, 2016

It's a Small World After All

It’s a small world after all. That’s not just a lyric to a Disney song. In many cases, it’s quite literally true. Take, for example, what happened to me Thursday afternoon. I was innocently trolling Facebook when I saw a post in one of the fitness groups that I belong to. A map was posted that showed the route of where one of the other members was talking a walk with his dog. I recognized the area and asked where exactly he was.

The map was from Lyndonville, where my family was originally from before coming to Lockport. My grandmothers both lived in Lyndonville. My entire life we had visited the small village. In fact, we still go down for the Independence Day festivities, particularly the parade and the craft show. So, I am very familiar with the lay of the land.

The map began on West Avenue very near to where my grandmother used to live. In my post to Jim, I asked where on West Avenue where he lived. Come to find out, he only lived two houses from my grandmother. And then he asked who my grandmother was. When I told him, Virginia Cooper, he told me that she was his mother’s aunt. A small world indeed. And this is exactly why social media can be so much more.

Being an historian and a big family history guy, I immediately asked who his mom was and who his grandparents were. After some back and forth inquiries, we finally settled on the fact that we were second cousins. Well, hello cousin! We engaged in a few other pleasantries and went about our regularly scheduled programming.

A short time later, Jim chimed back in with the idea that my grandmother had a bunch of the family history, and wondered if I had it. Of course I do. I have a bunch of Cooper family information that my grandmother had accumulated. I have not been through it all, but I have skimmed through most of it to see what there was.

I’ve done some of my own, independent research on the family, going so far as to order in parish records from the town in England the family was from. I’ve spent hours at the LDS library on Maple Road going through those films tracking down the elusive nuggets of our family history. During these history excursions, I found several skeletons that either the family didn’t know, or my grandmother wanted to stay hidden. I’ve also discovered key departures from the generally accepted family tree. Sometimes I find glee in these little surprises.

So, now I’ve put myself on a mission to research and gather as much information on the Cooper family that I can. I owe it, not only to myself but also to my cousins, both familiar and new. I’ve done other parts of the family on my mother’s side, but I’ve mostly focused on my dad’s side. That was simply because grandma had done a fairly good job on mom’s side. Nothing had been done on dad’s side. I thought it was important to get some research done there.

Furthering the small world scenario, Jim asked me where I lived. When I told him I was on Walnut, he mentioned that his dad was on Walnut, too. In fact, we can see each other’s houses from our respective front porches. On my normal morning walks, I walk right by the house. Hopefully, we will be able to get together and compare notes on family history. It’s always fun to find new family members.

This isn’t the first time I’ve found family members by accident. While researching the Bacon family, I cold called all the Bacons in the phonebook and left messages. One of those calls resulted in a return message and a visit to a long-lost relative. I am still reaping the benefits of that relationship by getting to know other parts of the family. Everyone has a little bit different piece of the story. Together we might be able to weave a fuller tapestry of our family. It is a never ending endeavor.

Craig Bacon is always on the lookout for family members and new stories. Contact him at if you believe there may be a connection. He’s always up for genealogical talk.