Afton Reintjes and I drove from Utah to Dallas Texas on a research trip for several clients with “dead-end” pedigrees. We left the 8th of September with great anticipation of the exciting finds we would be able to make at the Dallas Public Library–where almost every published source for Northern Texas counties and many records for all the other counties in Texas awaited us.
The morning of September 11th, we arrived at the library at 8:30 am so we could be ready to research as soon as the Genealogy Section opened. We selected seats near the book stacks. We selected the first of more than 300 printed volumes we searched that day.
A few minutes later, we were deeply into our research when Lloyd Bockstruck, the Genealogy Librarian, excitedly beckoned to us. We went to see what was up. He had brought a small screen television into his office and the entire genealogy staff were gathered around it. We watched in shock as the news played and replayed the 1st airplane smashing into the World Trade Center, each commentator speculating on why such a horrible mistake could have happened.
In stunned silence we choked back tears as the 2nd plane hit the other tower. By now, we realized these acts were not mistakes–they were a deliberate and carefully calculated attack on the United States. We just did not know who the perp was.
All over Dallas that day, all public buildings, banks, schools, and other service buildings in Dallas were put on lock-down. City streets were cordonned off and carefully monitored by police in patrol cars and on foot with the aid of private security officers working downtown. Two Arabian suspects were apprehended and held for questioning at the airport. They were later implicated as planning to hijack another plane leaving Dallas that morning for our Nation’s Capital.
The library closed early, with some question as to whether they would be open the next day. Amazingly, our research was more productive in that shortened day, than we had experienced for some time.
The Dallas Public Library has a valuable, little-publicized index–The DeGolyer Index to Names and Newspapers of Texas Chronology. It’s a card file originally compiled to identify oil leases and land ownership. Additional portions of the Homer DeGolyer Collection are located in the Fikes Room, Southern Methodist University. Because oil land leases and ownership are tranferred to heirs, these card files also index children, spouses, and family connections. Census and county tax records are included–making this one of the first indexes which were available for Texas census records.
As commerce and travel came to a halt in Dallas, Afton and I headed north into the counties of our research to walk cemeteries and visit funeral homes and other local record sources. Our visit to Webb City was especially fruitful. We visited an old town cemetery where one tombstone cracked a 20-year genealogy problem–Elizabeth E. Collier’s broken stone identified her maiden surname of Davis!
Two weeks later, as we left Texas for home, we both agreed that our finds made the trip worthwhile and our decision to drive, even though it was a long trip both ways, was a great decision. We came and went as the authorities would permit. And we completed our work without incident.
Before leaving for our trip, I prepared a research report for a client’s family reunion. When I got home from Texas her letter awaited me:
“I am so excited about the report you sent in time for our reunion. I arrived in New York on September 11th just before the destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Our reunion was smaller than we expected because the people couldn’t get there or were afraid to travel. Those who attended our genealogy meetings were as excited as I was that you could document the tie to Ulster Ireland. When we finally got home, I held a mini-reunion just for relatives in Nebraska and Kansas. We have many questions for you.” Marilyn Hodge, Holdredge NE
Regardless of your political philosophy, we need to remember how we felt to be attacked without provocation. How disrupted our lives were and still are. And we need to share our experience with others so that collectively, we remember.
Three genealogists died this summer, whose contribution to this passionate pursuit of ours, is little-known outside of their small circle of influence–which includes me:
Ursula Huelsbergen, Lawrence KS. German research specialist for the Max Kade Center for German-American Studies, University of Kansas and University of Wisconsin.
John Richard Dale, III, Independence MO. Long-time treasurer for the American Family Records Association (AFRA) founded by Kermit B. Karns in Kansas City MO.
James Hennessey, Salt Lake City UT. Irish research specialist, who developed a very successful strategy for tracing hard-to-find ancestors in Ireland.
Each one of them influenced me and the way I research. I will miss their association and friendship more than I can express. And I will always cherish the genealogy tricks of the trade I learned from these great people.
I decided to shift the description of collections in my Genealogy Library Center, Inc. to next week so we could remember 9/11 today. And this summer we rescued the Moore Collection from oblivion–literally snatched from the trash barrell! Tune in next week for all the horrendous details and if you have a Moore line from WA and WI back across New York through New England, be sure to tune in next week. Your very favorite genealogist , Arlene Eakle.
P.S. Post Alert: By the end of the month, my book catalog, Genealogy 2006-07, will be posted on my website . Some new stuff, some old stuff recaptured for you, some very good stuff. Be sure to check it out.