In my earliest post, I mentioned that part of my motivation to begin research on my family tree was a request by my Dad to track down his brother’s children, whom the family had lost track of after their parents divorced. I had decided to try and use the past to help make the link to the present.
However, my uncle was a rather elusive character in the past. Part of that was the lack of information I had on him. Sure, I had his full name. I had his military service number. I knew some of the general places he had lived, and one specific place (the one place we had as a family visited several times when I was young). From census data, I was able to get an approximation of when he was born. But as far as specifics, I knew little.
While I had gotten from the US Census data on Ancestry.com a year and a month of birth, I did not have an exact date. My uncle had been in the Air Force. I did not know when he enlisted or when he left the service. My searches on Ancestry.com were not revealing much of anything on the Air Force at all. It seemed strange, so I started expanding my search. which led me to the National Archives.
As I was looking around, I happened to spot a link about a fire in 1973, and so I decided to follow it. I was dismayed by what I read. Fire had devastated several of the records for both Army and Air Force personnel; 75% of the records for those in the Air Force discharged between September 25, 1947 to January 1, 1964 that were in alphabetical order after Hubbard, James E. were gone. There had been no copies, and no indexes. They were totally destroyed.
I felt I had reached my first major road block to any progress in finding the information I sought. Military records might have listed information on my uncle’s dependents, so I might have gotten more information about them that way. Without those records though, I might not ever be able to find the information about my aunt or my cousins.
However, this particular road block could possibly be cleared. After all, what if my uncle was discharged after January 1, 1964? What if his was one of the 25% that somehow survived the fire? Without investigating further, I would not know whether the fate of my uncle’s military records was safe or in flames.
Since I knew that military records could be requested free by next of kin, I turned to the only living next of kin I knew of: my Dad. I made it as easy as I could for him. I filled out the forms with all the data we had for my uncle, and then sent them on to him to sign and then mail.
While we waited for those records, I wasn’t going to stay idle. I did take some detours on my journey at this time. I decided to see how far back I could go on the Taylor side of the family tree. I had found information on my great-grandfather, William H. Taylor, in Missouri in 1900, but not anywhere near where I expected him to be. I knew based on the census data that he was born in West Virginia. How had he gotten from West Virginia to Missouri, and from the upper part of Missouri down to the southeast corner?
My second detour would actually be a jump from the Taylor path completely. I would begin researching my mother’s side of the family.
Finally, my third detour would not even be about my own family tree at all. I would begin looking at my husband’s family tree. My husband’s paternal grandparents had immigrated to the US from Hungary. I wondered when and where they had arrived in the US, and from whence their journey had begun.
While I had hoped that at least part of this adventure would be a snap, it was proving to be a bit more arduous in the earlier stages. Answers were not going to always come easily. Genealogical records were not always going to be out in plain site, and not every person on my tree at Ancestry.com would have a hint leaf next to their name. I would need to dig to uncover the information. My ancestors were out there, waiting to be discovered, and I knew the best way to find them was to keep looking. One path may be blocked, but others were open to travel and be discovered.