Are My Roots Showing?

The chronicle of this woman's perpetual game of hide-and-seek with her ancestors

Cousin Bait Hooks Another One … Sort Of.

February 27th, 2013

There I was … minding my own business.  Suddenly, I hear the familiar “knock knock knock” on my cell phone, letting me know that I have an email.  Hmm.  That’s weird.  It’s from someone I’ve never heard of, but the subject line is “John Gallagher.”  Hey, I know a John Gallagher!  That’s my Grampa!

John Joseph Gallagher pic

John J. Gallagher – maybe a high school photo?

Turns out the email is from an attorney who practices elder law (wills, estates, etc.) in New York.  He has a client who says she was a high school classmate of my grandfather’s.  Wait … what?  Yeah, apparently his client was thinking about him one day and wondered how he was doing.  The attorney wanted to know if I could provide some information for her and possibly provide information for her to contact me.

Now I’m going to backtrack just a second.  How did he find me?  Well, his client told him several things that she remembered about him … he was a motorcycle policeman in Ridgefield, New Jersey and his family lived on Virgil Avenue.  He plugged this information into Google, which led him to my blog.  This one.  Right here!  So he emailed me.  (Okay, as far as we know she’s not a cousin – but at least my blog is doing its job, right?)

Okay – back to the story.  Of course, I was skeptical.  Here was someone I don’t know purporting to be a lawyer with a client who was a classmate of my grandfather’s, seeking information.  After a pseudo background check, I determined this guy was probably on the up-and-up, but I still wanted to keep my personal information private.  I replied to his email, explaining my hesitation at providing my private contact information and only provided my cell phone number.  If he wanted my address or anything else, he would just have to wait until I confirmed that this woman is indeed who she says she is.  Meanwhile, I had to break the news that my grandfather had passed away in February 1990.

John Joseph Gallagher c. 1980s

John Joseph Gallagher c. 1980s

Fortunately, he completely understood my reluctance.  He explained that his client was (obviously) quite elderly, in failing health, and had a full-time caregiver who was on vacation at that time.  He told me that he would wait until she returned before he gave the bad news to his client, since there was no way to tell how she would react to the information.  Then he would work with us both to arrange a time to speak by phone because “she will certainly be eager to speak with you.”

Excited?  Uh … yeah!

I passed the news along to my maternal relatives in our Facebook group, asking if any of them have ever heard of this woman.  My aunt nonchalantly pipes up, “oh, I have his old high school yearbook if that will help.”  Oh. Em. Gee.  I immediately ask her to send it to me so I can scan it and send it back.

I’m looking forward to hearing from this mysterious classmate, and hoping that she has some interesting stories to tell (and photos to share)!  I also can’t wait to see that yearbook!

This is very exciting indeed.

Do we share any ancestors?

Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com


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Are My Roots Showing?

Comments

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  • Laura Aanenson says on: February 27, 2013 at 3:13 pm

     

    Super exciting! Can’t wait to hear the outcome!

  • Smadar Belkind Gerson says on: February 27, 2013 at 9:56 pm

     

    Congrats, Jenny! It’s so exciting to see the blog is “doing it job”! Keep up the good work! Can’t wait to hear what you learn from this lady. She must have had a special relationship with your grandfather to ask for her lawyer to look him up! So cool!

  • JennyLanctot says on: February 28, 2013 at 6:03 am

     

    Laura – You’ll probably be the first to know!

    Smadar – That’s what I was thinking too. Wouldn’t it be exciting if she was a high school sweetheart or something?

    • Smadar Belkind Gerson says on: February 28, 2013 at 8:25 am

       

      How romantic would that be? One of my dad’s first girlfriends posted a photo in facebook and asked if anyone knew him or his wear abouts. I came across it looking for photos of my grandfather. He looked so young in the photo she posted and I had no idea who she was, so of course I didn’t want to give him away. I checked with him first, and he was so excited, so I put them together. They have now reconnected and become friends. It was very cool!

  • JennyLanctot says on: February 28, 2013 at 8:34 am

     

    What a wonderful story, Smadar! Unfortunately, mine can come to no such conclusion, given that my grampa has been dead for 23 years, but it will certainly be interesting to unravel this mystery :)

    • Smadar Belkind Gerson says on: February 28, 2013 at 9:07 am

       

      There are so many scenarios Jenny though! She could have had his child for all you know!

  • JennyLanctot says on: February 28, 2013 at 10:51 am

     

    Well, that WOULD be something, wouldn’t it? Finally – SCANDAL in my family tree! Woo hoo!

  • Mariann Regan says on: February 28, 2013 at 9:43 pm

     

    It is amazing how easy it is getting to find people! A lawyer with Google can find your blog. Wow! I’m glad you were careful — for some people, the enthusiasm might have made them rush to contact. And now your aunt has his yearbook. People are becoming more and more able to span the years.

    Just in the pass two months I’ve had two second cousins find me. One found me by blog, and the other by email. They knew my name because some family member had passed my family history book to them — but I did not know either one of them, and now I’m corresponding with them.

    Fortunately, they wanted to give information to me (old family stories and documents for archives) rather than take information from me. I feel lucky.

    It seems as if privacy is disappearing these days, which can be both wonderful and terrible. When I’m at my computer, I just try to write everything as if I were writing for the front page of a newspaper . . . even those are fast disappearing.

    You have some more exciting discoveries ahead, I hope! Your Grampa looks like a nice guy, both young and old. I see a sense of humor in that half-smile.

  • JennyLanctot says on: February 28, 2013 at 9:49 pm

     

    Thanks for commenting, Marriann! I am careful, and fortunately (as a paralegal), I have access to ways of verifying lawyers are who they say they are, so I wasn’t too worried. As a matter of fact, I received a call from this wonderful lady this afternoon – but that’s for another blog post. Suffice it to say, I am confident that she presents no danger. I just wish my grampa was still alive.

    I think it’s wonderful that you’ve found 2 cousins who are generous with their information and stuff. It’s rare that they find you, and even rarer that they are willing to share!

    … and you’re right – he had a wicked sense of humor.

  • Debi Austen says on: March 1, 2013 at 10:44 am

     

    So cool! I have tons of my grandmother’s stuff and she has so many photos of what appears to have been her best friend. I found someone researching this BFF on ancestry and sent them a message offering to share photos. Sadly, I never heard back from them. But your story gives me inspiration to try agin! I can’t wait to hear about your conversation with the woman.

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Are My Roots Showing?

The chronicle of this woman's perpetual game of hide-and-seek with her ancestors