Sometimes I get a story from an Ancestry.com member that’s just so wonderful I have to share it. The following, from Kathy Kennard, fits that description perfectly:
“My great-grandfather, Hans Knutson, came from Norway and, according to family history, had a bit of a lisp. When he told the officials his name, they understood him to say Newton, rather than Knutson. That was the name that was written down. He liked it, according to a relative, so he decided to keep it, although it was never changed legally.
Most of my great-grandfather’s sisters kept the Knutson name; only one used the name ‘Newton’ like Hans. I, however, didn’t know this for many years, which made tracing this family a bit difficult.
One day, my mom made the remark that Hans had some relatives named Moe. She wasn’t sure how they were related but just had some recollection of that fact. So I did a little research and found the Moe family. It felt like a small and somewhat odd lead but I was willing to go anywhere it took me.
I found a Kari Moe who came from Norway at about the same time Hans had so I contacted someone from her family. The man that I spoke to was adamant that his grandmother, Kari, was not related. Her maiden name was Knutson, not Newton and he knew the Newton clan, as they were all neighbors, and they were just not related. ‘Surely someone would have mentioned it before now,’ was his response.
Several months later, this same man called me. His aunt had just passed away and it was his responsibility to clean out her house. In her Bible, he found some obituaries: one was the obituary of his grandmother. It listed each of his grandmother’s sisters and her brother, Hans Newton. He called me in excitement and to apologize. He also wanted to let me know that on the wall was a picture of Hans Newton with each of his sisters, and he was happy to make a copy for me.
I now have a picture of my great-grandfather and the history of the Moe family, which I would have never had if I hadn’t followed that one lead through Ancestry.com.”
Thanks Kathy. And if anyone else has a story to share, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the way, if you want to learn tricks, tips and how-tos for success with immigration records, do what I did: take all the hands-on advice you can get from Ancestry Weekly Discovery editor, Juliana Szucs Smith. Attend her FREE online class, Coming to America: Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors, tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern. You can register for the live class or watch it at a later date in our archive (live classes hit the archive about a day after broadcast) at http://learn.ancestry.com/LearnMore/Webinars.aspx.