I had the great fortune of finally meeting up with Gail Skaggs, her brother Timothy and her mom. I’d contacted Gail almost two years ago through Find a Grave to discuss my great-grandpa William Arby Lemaster because she seemed to have quite a bit of information on my Lemaster side. Turns out, she and I are third cousins and we have a lot of matches on our DNA. So we’ve spent the last two years emailing back and forth about our family and helping each other with pieces we’re missing from our trees.
When I met up with Gail and her family, she pulled out a box of photos that came from Dewey Lemaster, her grandpa and brother to my grandfather, Curtis Lemaster. She pulled out the photographs thinking that I might be able to help identify certain unknowns, but the most amazing thing happened. One of the very first photos she pulled out was a small school picture from 1930. On the back was written “Curtis Lemaster.” I about fell off my chair. It was my grandpa Curtis at age 12! Until that moment, I had never seen a picture of grandpa young – not even in his teens or twenties. All my photos of grandpa are of him from my childhood and he’s already in his late 50’s/early 60’s. But there was that sweet, little familiar face, slightly smiling, wearing bib overalls and showing his remarkably long arms that my mom commented he always had. To my delight and surprise, Gail gave me this photographic treasure after making a copy for herself. I think my heart nearly burst in my chest with excitement.
I immediately sent a snap to my two uncles, neither of whom had seen that picture before, and they were thrilled. My cousin Shawn also had never seen it. We were all so tickled! I tried to show my dad, who is still suffering terribly after his second stroke and he didn’t really seem to grasp who it was. When we told him it was his own father, he shrugged and said “Whoever that is!” I wish he could remember more.
It goes to show you that for however many bad, rude and jerky people you may find on Ancestry (or any of the other genealogical sites, for that matter) there really ARE those people out there who are helpful, caring and willing to share their information. Luckily for me, Gail is part of my actual family and while I found a new relative in her, I’d like to think she and I would have been friends regardless even if we wouldn’t have been related. So please, don’t give up when someone won’t reply or someone won’t share information you’re looking for. Keep going, keep reaching out and perhaps you’ll get lucky too. I’m always amazed how Providence has placed some of the most amazing people in my life when I needed them most during my genealogical research.