She was a beautiful, young Irish maid, working in a wealthy English household. Her employer’s oldest son fell in love with her. When he announced intentions to marry her, his parents said they would disown him. He married her anyway. Then, bride and groom ran away to live happily ever after. “Her name was Mary Cordial,” my maternal grandmother Marilyn Matilda Dietz told me, that distinct glimmer of pleasure in her eyes—the one she always had when she retold this story. “And you are her legacy.”

This blog is a resource for those who want to--have to--find out more about who they came from.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Left Wondering

The cover page of The Wonder Book, copied from microfiche at the FHC.

When The Wonder Book arrives, I ask Mary at the Family History Center if she wouldn’t mind my taking a look right there and then on the center’s microfiche reader. She’s happy to oblige.

Quickly reading the dim screen, I learn the date of the Bullock’s emigration: April 28th, 1865. I also find a list of baptisms, courtesy of copied Bristol records, that reflect my Williamsburgh Bullocks. There are a few minor discrepancies--all of the children are said to be the child of Thomas Bullock and Jane Elizabeth Gare, with no mention of Jane Yarde; William’s and Charles’ years of birth are off by two years each (Did Thomas intentionally lie about their ages, I wonder); and Uncle Harry’s name is given as Fredrick Henry (not Francis Harry/Henry, per U.S. censuses and his death certificate). But otherwise, everything fits.

Then, I have a jaw-dropping moment. While reading p. 106, I find out that the author made this wish in print: “One of my great desires is to locate some member of this family before I leave this earth!”

Immediately, I check the date of publication. 1974. I check the author’s name and find (1912 - ). The blank means she was still alive at the time of the book’s printing, but that was 36 years ago.

“You should try contacting her,” Mary says, when I share this find.

The author would be 98 now. What’s the likelihood she’s still with us?

“Give it a try,” Mary suggests. “You never know.”

When I get home, I hop online to google the author’s name, only to have another jaw-dropping moment. I find her obituary, dated 2009.

“I just missed you,” I say to the screen in disbelief.

The obituary provides names of descendants. I try looking them up via Yahoo White Pages, and I find an address. I write a letter, explaining who I am, expressing condolences, asking whether anyone has assumed Zettie’s work and would like to compare notes. I provide my contact information.

That was back in early April. I still haven’t heard from the family, but I remain hopeful that at some point someone will contact me and let me know if Zettie’s wish might have been fulfilled by another Bullock researcher who’d come along sooner than I did. I really hope that it was.

Until then, I’ll be wondering.