When I first started on my genealogy research in the early 1990s I read a lot of "How To Do Genealogy" books and they all agreed on one thing--"Talk with your oldest relatives." Unfortunately all of the next older generation were already gone. Except for one living aunt on my father's side of the family, I was in the oldest living generation. Fortunately, when my Brown family grandparents married it was a second marriage for both of them and altogether I had 15 cousins, and three of them had also died. My mother was very good about keeping records and I have her birthday book with a space on each day of the year where she recorded, not just birthdays of family and friends, but also death dates next to the birthday and marriages on the appropriate day. With that information I was able to fill in quite a few details on the family group sheets I was compiling.
My next step was to send a family group sheet with all the data that I had for each of my aunts and uncles and another for each cousin. I asked each cousin to fill in any blanks that they could and also to make any necessary corrections. I also asked them to write down any remembrances that they had of our extended family. I was pleasantly surprised to get answers from all of them with quite a few additions and corrections for my genealogy.
I have continued to keep in touch with them and let them know about new discoveries as I made them and they have continued to send me information as they found it. We also have continued to have yearly Brown Family reunions, although they are not as well attended as our family is getting scattered and many of the cousins are no longer able to make the trip. My first letter with the family group sheets went out in 1993 and in January of 1994 I visited my cousin Mary Jean and asked her to get out all pictures, documents, etc. that she had. She did not have the reunion pictures that I thought she did, but she did have a photo of my great grandmother, Grandpa's mother, and my uncle had written on the back information that unlocked several family secrets and sent me to a different county in which to research. Among other things he said Grandpa's mother was buried in Vassar under the name of Clark who she married after her husband died. You will hear more about that after I finish Grandpa's story.
It was cousin Richard that found what I call the BOMBSHELL LETTER in an old desk that his father had inherited from his father, Grandpa Brown.