Author’s Notebook – Sometimes Wishes Do Come True

Jean has now safely arrived in New France and soon I will continue the story of my French-Canadian ancestors. But, as is so often the case in genealogy, something bright and shiny has caught my attention and has detoured my journey.

I won’t go into all the details of my extensive research into my Voigt ancestors. You will get all the details when I start writing that side of my family’s story. But I will tell you that I know a lot less about the Voigts than I thought I did, and I hit brick wall after brick wall trying to locate any ancestors of my grandfather and grandmother in the area of Leipzig, Germany. Records are hard to come by in what was, for 40 summers, East Germany. I corresponded with clerks at numerous archives and hired competent researchers to scour records and locations on my behalf. I sent pages and pages of German documents to one of the very best translators in old German documents I could find. One document didn’t make it into that batch, and as it turns out, it was the crucial piece of the puzzle. Again, that story will come later. But after all that work I was left feeling that, perhaps, my sister and I were the last of the Voigts, and her children and grandchildren would foster the only reminders of this part of our German heritage.

I have maintained a tree on Ancestry.com and on WikiTree for many years. I hoped that somewhere along the line, one of those cute little shaking leaves would put me in touch with a member of my German family. No joy.

Then, on Boxing Day last year, the following email showed up in my inbox courtesy of WikiTree (I have redacted the name to protect her privacy):

Screenshot 2019-02-13 at 10.12.17 AMI get many, many emails through WikiTree every week. Mostly they are from my French-Canadian colleagues who are scouring the planetary family tree in an effort to eliminate duplicates and make sure all the information is correct. This one looked different somehow, so I opened it immediately – and had to read it twice.

Whoever this turned out to be, I knew I already liked her because she was offering me a correction to my family tree and could back it up with documentation. As it turned out, we are very much related.

My Great Aunt (Emma Ella Voigt) had two children I did not know about (see – document, above, that never made it to the translator). One of those children, Christa Horn, had a son, Heinz, who had a daughter who was now looking for her ancestors. Our common ancestor is Freiderich Julius Hermann Voigt – her great-great-grandfather – my great-grandfather. What are the chances I would discover a second cousin, or more correctly, that she would find me!

So I wrote back and we have been corresponding regularly ever since. Fortunately for me, her English is WAY better than my German. Her English improves with each email. I am now taking a few baby steps to write in German – which is no easy feat for someone who never studied the language. Thankfully, there is Google Translate.

I have been a bit distracted. The Voigt side of my family tree has been pulling at me to pay attention so I can provide information to my cousin and since I believe that everything happens for a reason, I am not fighting that pull.

Stay tuned for more about Jean and his arrival in Chateau-Richer as well as the evolving story of my German cousin.

 

 

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