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Sometimes, on a journey, you veer off the path you had chosen to take.  Perhaps you saw a sign offering you a chance to see some great local sight.  Maybe you just happened to look over and see something to the side of the road, and you wanted to check it out.

In one instance, my husband and I, while on our honeymoon trip, were enticed by a tape.


Though the Polaroid I took was slightly damaged, it still shows the “Sky Blue Journal” set of tapes that offered us insight into history and sites as we traveled through Minnesota. In the background, you can see one of those sites. You can also see our travelling companion, Blue. That’s another story. 😉

The tape happened to mention there was a statue of the Jolly Green Giant just a few miles away from where we were travelling.  Of course, I wanted to see it.  So, we went, and sure enough, there he was!  You almost expected to hear the “Ho, ho, ho!” from the massive, 55 foot tall guy.  We didn’t stay long, but we got pictures and enjoyed a quick break from our cross-country trip.

Lately, with my research, I’ve felt pretty much the same way.  I try to focus in on one person, but I might catch a glimpse of something that leads me off my path.

For instance, I started researching my great-grandmother, Bessie Mae Layne Newell Massey.  I was hoping to find some additional records about Herbert Newell, her first husband and my great-grandfather.  Instead, I wound up getting more information about George Massey, her second husband.  While interesting, it was not what I was looking for.

I did find one item today on one of these side trips that gave me some additional information on my grandmother’s family.  I was looking for information on another great-grandfather, Manford Lawson, and came upon a death certificate for one of his sons:


You can see that James died of whooping-cough. This is just about the time that the whooping-cough vaccine was developed. Too bad it didn’t save him.

James was another of the family’s “One Hit Wonders”.  He made his one and only appearance in 1920 on the US Census.

James in the 1920 Census.

Sometimes, being sidetracked can be fun, but at other times, it can be frustrating.  I’ve had a particular post in mind, and it just seems like every time I start the research for it, I find myself on tangents.  Even fruitful moments like finding the death record for James don’t make up for the fact that, right now, I should be finding other records for other family members.

Have you ever been sidetracked like this?  If so, how do you break away from the side trips and get back to your genealogical path?