Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – The Day the Genealogy Serendipity Angels Smiled!

The following is from Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings website!  Thank you, Randy!

Yes, it’s Saturday Night, and time for some Genealogy Fun!

My friend, Leland Meitzler, posted his Top Ten list of “Most Satisfying Genealogy Events” yesterday – and it’s a good list – please read it and respond to it if you want to.

For today’s SNGF, if you choose to participate (cue the Mission Impossible music!), please:

1) Tell us about one (or more) “Satisfying Genealogy Moments” from your family history and genealogy research. What was it, and how did it make you feel? You can make a Top Ten list if you want to!

2) Write your own blog post, or make a comment on this post, or make a comment on Facebook, and tell us about your “moment in time.”

The Day the Genealogy Serendipity Angels Smiled!
by Sherry Stocking Kline, October 10, 2009

My Number One favorite all-time Genealogy Experience was one of those “ahhh moments” when Serendipity and the Angels smiled on us.

It was July of 2005, and my husband and I were leaving soon to visit our son in Illinois, and we were taking my mom who was 93 at the time, to Barren County, Kentucky for a day or two and try to locate my Mom’s dad’s childhood home.

I did some research before I left. I re-checked on library hours, wrote down addresses, packed up a notebook (and laptop), and called the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center in Glasgow, Kentucky to talk to the wonderfully helpful woman I had spoken with on a previous occasion.

I nearly hung up the phone…

I nearly hung up the phone when I learned that the woman who had been so warm and friendly before was not working.

That would have been a mistake.

I sighed to myself,  decided to take a chance, re-state my facts and share my story with the woman who had answered the phone.

“I’m looking for information,” I said, “about my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, Willis Washington Jones and his wife, Martha Ellen Smith and her parents, Charles and Virginia Hawley Smith.”

There Was Dead Silence…

There was dead silence for at least three heartbeats.

And then she said (and here I still get goosebumps) “Charles and Virginia Hawley Smith are my great-great grandparents, too.”

“Oh. My. Gosh.” I thought.

“Hello, cousin!” was my astonished reply. The genealogical angels had not deserted me; they had given me a wonderful gift!

My brand-new cousin’s name was Nancy Bertram Bush, she was ‘into’ genealogy, and she invited us to give her a call when we got to Glasgow.

A couple of weeks later, we were in Glasgow. I stopped at the courthouse, looked up some land records, and learned more about my great-great grandfather Smith’s land holdings.

When we arrived at the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center, I gave Nancy another call and we were in luck, she was home.

Nancy Had a Gift for Mother…

She hurried over to the Center to meet us, (and a nicer new cousin I can’t imagine meeting). She brought along a treasure, a photograph of my mother’s grandparents (complete with the names) that had been mailed back to the family from Kansas and presented it to my mom.

29 - Nancy Bertram Bush, standing and Dorothy Jones Stocking Barry seated.

29 - Nancy Bertram Bush, standing and Dorothy Jones Stocking Barry seated.

Mom had never seen photographs of her grandparents and when we brought the photograph home, we were able to identify Willis and his wife Martha in two other photographs that we had.

Nancy offered to take us around Barren County with her husband to try to locate the former home of Willis and Martha Ellen. We went up hill and down dale, we stopped at one family farmstead that had Smith family buried there, and we tramped through tall grass to record names and take photographs, but this was not our destination.

Our next stop proved to be the home of Charles and Virginia Hawley Smith, and we were able to visit with the family and see the land and outbuildings, some of which might have actually been standing during Charles & Virginia’s time.

The Family Cemetery Had Been Returned to Farmland…

Thanks to researching cemetery books we already knew that their family cemetery had been returned to farm land, which was disappointing.

66 - L - R: Nancy Bertram Bush, Norman and Sherry Stocking Kline, Dennis Bush pay respects to family members at the Temple Hill Baptist Church, Barren County, Kentucky

66 - L - R: Nancy Bertram Bush, Norman and Sherry Stocking Kline, Dennis Bush pay respects to family members at the Caney Fork Baptist Church, Temple Hill, Barren County, Kentucky

Next we stopped at the Caney Fork Baptist Church and cemetery and walked through the cemetery and paid our respects to cousins, great-aunts and great-uncles.

When we watched my mother get out of the car and in her words “stand on the land her father had played on as a child” and look around and see “where he came from,” it was a meaningful moment for us all.

We were grateful we were able to help her do this.

Dorothy Barry standing by car next to the Temple Hill Baptis Church & Cemetery - Barren County, Kentucky

Dorothy Barry standing by car next to the Caney Fork Baptist Church & Cemetery - Temple Hill, Barren County, Kentucky

Thank You, Cousin, Nancy…

It was with deep sadness that we received word about two years ago that our new-found cousin, Nancy Bertram Bush, had suffered a heart attack and passed away.

Thank you for a wonderful Genealogical Moment in Time, cousin Nancy.

11 Responses to “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – The Day the Genealogy Serendipity Angels Smiled!”

  • Beautiful story. Another part of why we do this.

    • Thank you for the kind words! It was a very special trip for us, and a time that I will always cherish. I’m so lucky, really, I still have my mother, and she will be 98 come January, good Lord willing. I wish she were able to travel, we’d go back, but that would be too much for her now. Your blog is wonderful, Mavis, seeing your tap dancing photo on your blog at brought back many great memories for me!

  • Thank you for sharing this inspiring story. I also have family history in Barren County, Kentucky! My kith ‘n kin from that area include :: GILL :: HENRY :: KIRTLEY :: OWEN :: ROBERTS :: ET AL.

    • Thank you for the great comment! I wish I had my family tree more documented in Barren County, Kentucky, then I could check and see if we have common kin! It is certainly likely that we might! Mine lived in the Glasgow/Temple Hill area, but some of them also moved around, so we might find common family. Let’s keep an eye out! Thanks for writing! I just added some pics that I forgot to add last night! The Kin that I know names of are: Jones, Smith (should be a law against those two surnames marrying!), Hawley, Bertram, Bush, Crabb, and Mayfield.

      You have a great blog at: I love the way that you do your photographs there, and would like to learn how you do it, or what program that you use!

  • […] The Day the Genealogy Serendipity Angels Smiled… […]

  • Kay Bush:

    I want to “THANK YOU” for the very kind words written about your new cousin in Barren County, Nancy Bertram Bush, my mother. I came across your web site and was so moved by your article. She would have been so pleased!!! I guess I am now your new-found cousin!!

    • Your comment on my post has brightened my day today! I am so glad that you came across my website, and that you took the time to say “hello” to me! Thanks to your mother and father, that short trip to Kentucky holds such wonderful memories for us! They took time out of their day to make our trip so very special. And if we had stayed an extra day, you mom would have introduced us to more family there, too. Yes, we are cousins, and I’m so excited to “meet” you. I had hoped we could come back to KY, stay longer, and meet more family, and perhaps some day we can do that, but I hope we can keep in touch! If I have any family info that will help you, I would be very glad to share it with you, too! Sherry

    • Karl Mousley:

      Hello Kay!

      I am a cousin of Laurie Bush (of California) and the g-grandson of Joseph Black Bush. I understand Nancy Bertram was a cousin of mine and thus you are too!

      I’d like to get in touch with you. Can you drop me an email?

  • Karl Mousley:

    Nancy Bertram Bush was a cousin of mine – I am interested in locating some of her living offspring – and the site of the Bush / Barlow cemetery. I understand it is in “rough” condition – does anyone know the location and possibly the current owners of the property?

    Joseph Black Bush (later of Calera, Oklahoma) was my g-grandfather.

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