Monday, February 18, 2013

Find Me

I've been searching my family roots for about 3 years now and my biggest frustration has been my father's father. I found a great deal of information about his life but nothing about his death. The only thing I knew was that he died in nineteen fifty-six. Where he died, what day he died, why he died, and where he was buried were as big a mystery to me as he himself.

My grandfather was the forget man in his family even before he died. My parents learned about his death about three months after he died in an aside my aunt wrote in a letter to my father. We were living in South America at the time and at the end of the letter my aunt wrote something like, Oh, by the way, Dad died. And that was the end of my grandfather.

Fifty-four years after his death I started searching Illinois death records and, when I could not find any record of him, played with the idea of driving to Peoria, Illinois to look for him in the Peoria County records. I ran his name through the Find A Grave website numerous times. Each time, as I learned more about him, with a different set of criteria that expanded my search target bit by bit until I finally made it all of the United States. Nothing. I went to all the cemetery websites in Peoria hoping I might find him that way. Nothing. By now he was so forgotten he had disappeared.

Saturday I sat down at my computer and started searching again with a great sense of urgency., nothing. Find A Grave, nothing. The Internet. Nothing but the same old information I had already found. I went back to and went through the search process category by category just in case any record was buried deep in the list of results. Nothing. I went back to the Internet, typed his name in, and again found nothing but this was new nothing as none of the results that normally came up were listed. I checked my spelling and saw I had misspelled my grandfather first name. I felt defeated. I was never going to find my grandfather.

I decided to try one more time and as I retyped his name in Google I said aloud, "Adlai, help me find you."
I pushed the enter key on my laptop. There is was, a listing for an Adlai Shannon on Find A Grave. I clicked on the link. Adlai B. Shannon, died 1956, age 70, buried in a cemetery in New Orleans. No birthday, wrong middle initial, wrong age. Is this my grandfather? I go to the Louisiana state death records index and enter my grandfather's name. There he is, Adlai E. Shannon, died November 15, 1956, New Orleans, age sixty. I silently start crying because I know my grandfather wanted to be found and that he helped me do so.

The forgotten man is no longer forgotten.

No comments: