June 13, 2002 - Passing The Torch - by Karen Williams

The following came to Clan Stirling via rootsweb.  What a wonderful experience Karen has shared with all of us.  If you have experiences you'd like to share, please send them to mike@clanstirling.org

Passing the Torch - by Karen Williams (kjwilli5@cox.net)

In 1987, my younger brother was killed by a drunk driver. The next year my mother received a letter from a distant relative explaining who he was and that he was researching their mutual family history.  My mother was still distraught over my brother's death and put the letter away intending to respond later. Several times during the next few years she searched for the letter intending to respond, but could not locate it.

Sometime during June of 2001, I finally stopped pretending to be nonchalant about family history and bought a genealogy software program, CDs, books and the whole nine yards. After several months of searching and actually finding relatives my mother never knew existed, we spent an afternoon going through her dresser drawers for obituaries, old addresses, and finally found the letter.

I excitedly sent off letters to the researcher and his local genealogy society in an attempt to contact him, and was informed that he had died. He had left his research to his local society, but I lived across the country and was unable to go look at the documents myself. Everyone has been kind and helpful but it's not the same as reading through the documents yourself and knowing which ones you need and which ones you don't.

It was quite a let-down after my initial expectations.  Then I received some information that at first chilled me, but upon reflection encouraged and warmed me. The distant relative had died in June of 2001. The same month I had begun my research in earnest. The torch had been passed -- a family needed to be remembered.

Since then I have contacted a few more distant cousins and am happily sharing and discovering information.